Photos; Frank Quealey

'Skiff chicks' at the JJ

This year's 18ft skiff unofficial world championship with the first all-women's teams

Saturday March 2nd 2013, Author: Frank Quealey, Location: Australia

When the Lomax Financial Group team finished Race 1 of the 2013 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour it set a record for being the first all-female crew to finish a race in the 74-year-old history of the Giltinan Championship.

Alexandra South, Saskia Tidey and Lizzi Rountree are the ‘Skiff Chicks’ crew of Lomax Financial Group and their record is more amazing as none of the crew had ever sailed an 18ft Skiff prior to the start of the current season.

The girls have benefitted from the support of sponsor Greg Lomax and Lomax Financial Group, who was rightfully proud of his charges after their record breaking performance.

Just as proud was Alex’s father Adam South, a two-time Giltinan champion, who has spent much time helping prepare the boat for the campaign.

While the local all-female team has set the record, we must not forget the US ‘Chad’s Angels’ team of Katie Love, Christine Neville and C.C. Childers, who were unable to share the record as a pre start incident forced them to withdraw with a torn mainsail. Both teams competed with determination on the water but shared a friendship in the park.

Alex has a wonderful focus on her sailing and is already committed to continuing her career in the 18s. Although she has not, so far, released her plans for the 2013-2014 season, there is no doubt that beating this year’s results is priority #1.

Australian 18 Footers League President John Winning said: “Our sport has been built around no-holds-barred tough competition on the water and the ability to have a drink and talk about the races back in the club bar. It’s good to see the way all our competitors lived up to this practice throughout the championship."

Ferry crowds showed the strength of the class with the first Sunday ferry being so full some patrons had to be left on the wharf. When the start of Race 6 had to be postponed due to extremely bad weather, large crowds lined up inside the clubhouse for ferry tickets, just in case the race officer allowed the boats onto the harbour.

It was the greatest spectator interest for the Giltinan Championship in more than 30 years and the Australian 18 Footers League only just managed to fit followers onto the two ferries provided for the final race of the championship.

Next year, the regatta will celebrate its 75th anniversary of the first regatta on Sydney Harbour in 1938 and it is hoped that more nations will be represented in such an historic event.

Japan has already discussed their participation with Australian 18 Footers League’s John Winning and Steve Quigley, and will charter a local boat for the championship.

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