18ft Skiffs look outside Australia
The 2011 European 18ft Skiff Grand Prix Circuit gets under way with the first regatta at Lake Balaton, Hungary on 12-15 May, and is certain to progress the class in the Northern Hemisphere if the preparations receive the support they deserve.
New Secretary of the European 18 Foot Skiff Class Association, Norbert Peter (Germany) is a progressive thinker with a real love of the class and the skills necessary to help bring the various countries together in a more organised manner.
Soren Clausen (Denmark) is the man driving the highlight event of the European season, the Mark Foy Trophy at Sonderborg, Denmark from 6-11 June, and his work in organising TV support from Eurosport has been nothing less than brilliant.
The countless hours he has spent liaising with European and Australian video producers, together with the LIVE tracking, will ensure the event receives fantastic worldwide exposure for sponsors.
Like Norbert Peter, Soren Clausen is a positive, forward thinker with a love of the class and a very good promotional brain.
Having these two men responsible for the welfare of European 18ft Skiff Racing is the most promising move for the class in a decade.
Norbert Peter explains: "We are trying to move the class in a new direction. Former competitors who began around eight years ago have started to disappear and we need to encourage new teams. We are trying to put a new package together which will give teams a forum to produce professional sport as well as having fun. We have a bunch of people who form a thinktank to develop the class. As well as Soren Clausen in Denmark, Ben Clothier in the UK, Miklos Ujhelyi-Gaspar in Hungary and Adrian Iten from Switzerland are doing great work to strengthen the class in their areas. Soren's achievement in the deal with Eurosport is a very important piece of stone in the wall to build the European house for the more professional teams".
"For the Mark Foy Trophy regatta, we expect to have teams from Denmark, Germany, UK, Hungary and Netherlands as well as teams from Australia, USA and New Zealand. For the other tour events, we will have more participants. There will be teams from France and Switzerland as well as more from Hungary. We also hope there will be others as well."
The opening round of the Grand Prix circuit at Lake Balaton is the first Hungarian national regatta and is a boost for the class, particularly as their top team, Liberty Sailing Team, skippered by Miklos Ujhelyi-Gaspar, is the reigning European champion.
Other Grand Prix events on the circuit are the German Grand Prix at Travemunde from 23-26 July and Swiss Grand Prix at Lake Urnersee, Switzerland from 23-25 September.
The UK 18ft Skiff Association will also stage four Grand Prix in the UK between April and October, while the International 18ft Skiff Championship will be sailed at San Francisco, USA from 21-26 August.
Former Giltinan champion and now President of the Australian 18 Footers League, John Winning is fully supportive of the European 18 Foot Skiff Class Association and will lead the Australian team to contest the Mark Foy Trophy.
Winning will skipper his Yandoo skiff, which has just completed its first season after being built only late in 2010. "The League is always keen to see the 18s spread into as many areas as possible and we predict a good future for Europe with the talented new administration ready to build on the efforts of their predecessors," Winning said. "The introduction of technology has made the sport accessible to anyone with a computer so we can expect more sponsorship to come into the class as this new administration takes full advantage of the possibilities."
Maersk Shipping Lines have recently shipped boats from USA, UK and New Zealand as well as Australia on behalf of the Australian 18 Footers League to contest the Denmark and San Francisco regattas