Female skipper joins Aussie 18ft skiffs
When Alexandra (Alex) South becomes the latest skipper to join the Australian 18 Footers League fleet for the 2012-2013 18ft Skiff season on Sydney Harbour, she will create history and a lot of interest and attention when the season gets under way on 14 October.
19-year-old Alex is not only a highly talented sailor with impressive local and international records, but she also creates history in the century-old class as she becomes the first daughter of a former Giltinan champion father to skipper an 18ft Skiff.
Her father, Adam South is a two-times Giltinan (world) 18ft Skiff champion and currently a coach in the 18s as well as coaching with the Double Bay Sailing Club.
Alex has been a Member of the Australian Sailing Squad since 2008, has been a Silver Scholarship holder, NSW Institute of Sport since 2009 and was a Finalist in Yachting Australia Female Sailor of the Year 2010, 2011. She was placed second in the Laser Radial Australian Olympic Trials for London 2012 and has been the National Champion on six occasions between 2006 and 2012. She attended her first World Laser Radial Championship in 2008 at the age of 14 years.
In 2011, Alex won the World Under-19 Laser Radial Championship and was second ranked in the Under 21 section. She also won the silver medal at the World University Games.
Alex realizes the challenge ahead, but is looking forward to her first season in the 18s: “I’ve got the best support possible. Dad being a two-time JJ champion is really helping me make the transition from Olympic sailing to skiff sailing. It’s definitely a big change. From a Laser, where I’m managing myself and the logistics of one boat (with arguably minimal rigging and boat work) to three people, two rigs, a bigger boat and a massive trailer.
“Dad also coaches Lumix, skippered by Jonathan Whitty, and previously coached Andy Budgen’s Project One, so I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time watching all the different courses and seeing a few of the danger spots. I’m not looking forward to getting over the top of Shark Island in a fresh Nor’easterly”.
Adam, who was for’ard hand in the champion ‘Chesty Bond’ team which won the 1987 and 1988 Giltinan Championships, believes (as a coach) that Alex has all the attributes to successfully campaign an 18ft Skiff: “As her dad, I’m very proud of her ambitions. It’s also very exciting to welcome a female skipper back to the class. Over my 30+ years of association with the 18ft Skiffs, Alex ranks now as one of only four female skippers to attempt the 18s challenge."
Alex added: “Dad and I talk about all the aspects of the campaign and try to see the best way we can approach situations in my rookie year. We have to factor a lot into the campaign, like being lighter than other crews, but we try to compensate for these short comings in other ways”.
She concludes: “I’ve grown up hearing the stories of the 18s days and I’m looking forward to having some of my own after this season … because I know all of dad’s off by heart (laughs)."
Alex is due to announce her team shortly and their first event will be Race One of the $10,000 3-Buoys Challenge Series on 14 October.