Resurgence of the UK 18ft skiffs

Photo: Eddie Aldridge
Class secretary Ben Clothier talks us through the change of guard
As keen readers will have noticed – the 18ft skiff class in the UK has been making a comeback this season after a hiatus in 2010 when they held just one regatta before racing petered out. It was felt that it wasn’t worth organising anything for just three or four boats - a shame for a class which remains one of the most exhilarating. According to the UK Class Secretary, Ben Clothier, the reason was principally due to a change of guard in the class with many of the longest standing teams standing down. “It was frustrating, but it wasn’t completely unexpected. One of our key protagonists had injured himself in a skiing accident and a number of the teams, who had been strong supporters of the class for the last 10 years, decided to move on mainly due to family commitments.” He points out that this also coincided with a recession. Among these have been the Richards brothers, Andy and Dave. Andy in particular has been very active on the 18ft Skiff World Council in recent years. It has been a similar story for Alec Mckinlay and his past European Championship winning crew on Ronstan and Ed Brown’s Wet & Wide team. “Three extremely good strong boats, internationally winning European events and championships...” states Clothier. “But naturally people move on. Now we are having to work out who the next group is and make sure the racing is organised in such a way that it attracts people who are able to sail at that kind of level and commit the necessary time.” Given the turnout this season, it seems the UK 18ft skiffs are back in business. At the first event in the UK this year, at Stone, there were seven boats and at the UK Nationals over the August Bank Holiday