GOES FOR A RIDE ON AN 18ft SKIFF
The fantastic solo Round-the-World deeds of then 16-year-old Jessica Watson have been well documented. They have been subsequently rewarded by the Australian Government when she was awarded the honour of being declared 'Young Australian of the Year' on Australia Day (26 January).
The following day, Jess took to the water again when she went for a ride on the 'Ella Bache' 18ft Skiff on Sydney Harbour and thoroughly impressed the skiff's regular skipper Owen Vale.
Vale commented: "Jessica was great. She showed no sign of anxiety or nerves at stepping on the 18 and we didn't have to ask her twice whether she wanted to take the tiller. She is without doubt a very capable skipper".
"Jess loved the sail. Once out on the skiff, she said it was just what she needed. Just to go for a sail on such a beautiful harbour and get away from the cameras and constant public attention".
(we still manager to get the Ella Bache and Frank Quealey images which are on the 'general' photo gallery page).
Vale added: "She is a special girl with high powers of motivation and determination. Confident, capable and ambitious, without any trace of arrogance. She also has a wicked sense of humour and I was impressed by her strong social and political awareness".
Flying18s WEBSITE SUCCESSES
Around twelve months ago the 'Flying18s' website began operating as an online vehicle to promote the sport of 18ft Skiff Racing in all major areas of the sport.
Over the past twelve months we have had more than 30,500 visitors, 83,600 pages, 1,496,000 files and 1,763,000 hits. In November 2010 we had our highest number of visits at 4,881. Pages were 13,033, files 279,632 and hits 328,048.
During November we also launched the first 'Flying18s Video' presentation and the success was very satisfying as it has already received more than 3,500 viewings in the first three weeks.
The US website 'Sailing Scuttlebutt' rated it their 'Video of the Week', while UK website 'Yachts and Yachting" and another US website 'Pressure Drop' gave it prominence on their sites. We are grateful to each of these sites for their support.
We would also like to thank all those who have contributed so freely to help us provide information and photographs from every major 18ft Skiff region in the world.
Our sailing friends in Europe and the United States as well as some of the world's best photographers must come in for special mention and a very big thank you.
There is a great opportunity for the 18s to progress further on a number of fronts in 2011 and we will soon take a look at the plans being made by Denmark's Soren and Flemming Clausen for the Mark Foy International championship at Sonderborg in June.
The Australian scene is also on the move and is more positive than it has been since the late 1980s. There is already a new fleet established in Perth, Western Australia with several high quality competitors being involved, now the Queensland scene is about to be revived in Brisbane with a group (including two former Giltinn champions) ready to challenge in 2011.
"WOODY" WINS MARITIME MEDAL
Australian 18 Footers League President, John "Woody" Winning was awarded a NSW Maritime Medal for his tireless support of the marine community, especially his commitment to the iconic sport of 18ft Skiff Racing.
NSW Maritime Chief Executive Steve Dunn presented Mr. Winning with his medal aboard the Tall Ship James Craig, at the official presentation of the 2010 Maritime Medals.
Mr. Dunn said Mr. Winning was being recognised both for ensuring the ongoing viability of 18ft Skiff Racing, and his assistance with many other areas associated with the boating industry and yachting.
"As President of the Australian 18 Footers League, John has personally attracted the necessary sponsorship to ensure the ongoing future of the iconic sport of 18ft Skiff Racing", Mr. Dunn said.
"The 18s are part of the rich colour and character of Sydney Harbour and his efforts extend to both the modern and historic fleets".
"John has also introduced many young sailors to the sport and gives them the opportunity to compete locally and internationally".
"Over the years, he has provided financial support to various boating businesses and makes available his vessels for use ar regattas, including charity events and as the radio relay vessel for the Sydney-Hobart yacht race".
"Mr. Winning also actively promoted the historical 18 foot skiffs - replicas of famous 18s from between 1900 and 1950 - which race on Sydney Harbour.
Mr. Dunn said the Maritime Medal was designed to acknowledge those who made an outstanding contribution to the maritime community.
- story by Penny Robins
VAN MUNSTER BOATS - BUILDING HIGH-TECH 18ft SKIFFS
Construction of the modern 18ft Skiff hull is obviously critical to its performance and longevity as a highly competitive racing machine, so the building of these high-tech hulls can only be assigned to the talents of a top class boat builder.
Van Munster Boatbuilding, at Morisset (north of Sydney), has been the registered builder of all 18ft Skiff hulls in Australia for the past five years.
To give us some idea of how the task is undertaken, Brett Van Munster gives a simple explanation of what is a highly technical and very precise building process.
"Our challenge is to build boats which are very light yet strong enough to meet the high demands of 18ft Skiff Racing. We only have a small team but we've got the expertise to work with the same materials as those used in Formula One Racing and the sircraft industry".
"SP-High Modulus source and supply us with the pre-impregnated carbon fibres from the UK and have it shipped to Australia under refriferated conditions. They also source and supply the specializes Kevlar Nomex honeycomb paper, which is used as a core material".
"The hull and deck are then constructed from the Kevlar Nomex honeycomb paper, which is sandwiched between two layers of the pre-preg carbon fibre".
"This construction technique is a little more sophisticated but essentially the same as pioneered by Iain Murray and John McConaghy back in the 1970s. Laminating is now done in an air conditioned, climate controlled environment and as you would expect the processing of the boats and the pre-pregs is a little more refined these days".
"Once the hull and deck have been laminated in their moulds they are individually baked in a custom built oven at minimum cure cycle of 80degrees celcius".
"This done, the hull and deck components are then placed in a holding jig where the complex internal structures, including centreboard case, supporting wing structures, mast step, bow sprit and framing are precisely assembled and installed into the hull".
"The deck is glued onto the hull in a very precise operation where maximum force is applied to ensure a minimum use of glue. This is a complex and critical procedure which requires extreme care as it basically holds the entire boat together".
"It is important that the finished product is not only light but also important that every single piece of carbon is in the right spot. Carbon is an extremely strong material and doesn't take much to hold the boat together, but if you get it in the wrong spot it also doesn't take much for it to blow up".
"The final step is to prepare and spray paint the hull and deck of the boat to the smoothest possible race quality finish. This is a lot harder and time consuming than it sounds as during this process we are continually conscious of keeping weight to a bare minimum as the boat receives an undercoat, primer and then the bare minimum high gloss coat".
"Weight is critical in 18ft Skiff Racing. We produce the bare hull shell at about 20kg and the overall weight of the boat before fittings are added is approximately 65.5kg. By the time it's ready to race the weight is around 170kg, which gives some ides of what goes onto an 18 in racing condition".
Van Munster Boats also build the centreboard and rudder from carbon composites.
Flying18s Video has been filming some of the processes and will soon broadcast this footage on www.flying18s.com (video) and 'You Tube'.
(we would like to thank Brett and Keith Van Munster for allowing us to film and photograph the process and to Jarrod Browne and Mitchell Gulpers for their professionalism and patience during the filming - www.vanmunsterboats.com).