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HH and TM at JJ’s in Oz WTF?

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  • HH and TM at JJ’s in Oz WTF?

    JJ Giltinan, the man for which the 18’ World Championships are named

    The Annual 18’ Skiff World Championships are coming up quick. You just can’t call them that. It’s an ISAF thing, and without their certification, nothing can be the World Championship. Hardly deterred, the Aussie’s decided to rename it the J.J. Giltinans or J.J’s for short. Named after James Joseph Giltinan, the Aussie businessman, entrepreneur, fleet secretary and founder of the 18’ Worlds in 1938.

    It’s the 3rd oldest sailing class trophy in the world, falling right behind the Snipes and Star class for longevity.

    Sydney Harbor is the birthplace of the 18s, which dates back to 1892.Initiated by a local sailing enthusiast named Mark Foy, to literally give the local sailing scene a kick in the pants and bring the sport into the collective minds and souls of the general populace’s lexicon. A visionary Mark, decided that’s racing must be more exciting, faster and with more color and flair than number on white cotton sails. 18’ long and 8 ‘ wide were the only design limitations. “Make em fast and colorful” and add some gaming and uncertainly and the betting crazy Aussie’s will come. And they have in droves. 18’ racing is big business in Sydney, with a season that runs from October through March. The Aussie 18’s League has over 4,000 members, nevermind that only 117 of them are listed as sailing members. Collectively, it works….

    The invincible Iain Murray far left Ian Souter and Shane Cobertt

    Invited to join the fun by none other than Iain Murray during 1996 505 World Championships, Howie Hamlin jumped at the chance in later that year. The result? “We got creamed” says Howie and for several years after Howie and teammates never even broke the top 10. “ It’s like heroin, you get hooked and you can’t stop coming back for more.” Howie addiction got so bad he had to bring some boats back home to play with, and over the years has imported 4-5 hulls from Australia, and is currently getting used to his newest Van Munster hull which debut a few weeks ago during the Australian Championships. Weekend and evening training with Mike Martin, Andy Zinn and Kurt Gooding finally paid off and by 2002 Howie along with Trevor Baylis and Mike Martin hit pay dirt flying the Star Spangled General Electric spinnaker to victory, becoming the 1st American crew to do so. The following year Hamlin and Martin brought along Rod Howell and repeated.

    Matt Noble, Howie Hamlin and Paul Allen

    It’s been a long dry spell ever since, last year Howie, Matt Noble and Fritz Lanzinger only managed a 16th out of the fleet of 30 boats, his aging former CST Composites not quit up to the task. This year he’s returning with Fritz Lanzinger and Paul Allen and driving a brand new hull and rigging, Team Howie looks good to go.

    Hamlin and Crew on General Electric In Sydney Harbor

    As an ambassador of sorts, Howie has been almost soley responsible for planting the seed for 18’s on US soil. In 2002, Howie teamed up with the StFYC to bring the 18’s back to San Franciso Bay for the 1st time in decades, 11 teams competed, several of them on hulls Howie had donated to the cause. The annual StFYC event is a must see for anyone interested in high speed skiff racing at it’s best. During the decade that San Francisco has enjoyed hosting the International 18’s regatta, teams from Australia, Canada, Great Britain and the US of A have made the pilgrimage, but for the most part it’s been a one way street. Aside from team Hamlin, the USA team venturing down to OZ have been a tad thin. Skiff Foundation founder Chad Frietas gathered a few friends a couple years ago and raced under the Obama Nation moniker and other efforts in 2004 and 2005. The opportunity to sail in the JJ’s doesn’t come along very easily, after all it is the World Championships ( Just don’t call it that) and there is limited space. Enter into the picture Jody and Skip McCormack.

    Team Trunk Monkey giving it gas during last year SF International 18’ Regatta

    All research has indicated that this will be the 1st ever husband and wife team to participate in the JJ’s, and the couple are jazzed as all heck about the opportunity. But just like Howie some 15 years ago, they have tempered their expectations. Their “Trunk Monkey” campaign began in earnest last year after they completed the Pac Cup double handed on their Mumm 30 of the same name to a respectable 4th place. “ We’re essentially just sussing out the event at this point, and intend to become regular participants” says Skip”

    The duo have been part of numerous other campaigns, working for on other peoples boats and efforts, this ones just for them. Having trained and sailed together on the 49er, this has become an essential extension of the process. Encouraged by Paul Allen to buy “Pegasus Black” which was Shark Kahns for a few years, the couple agreed with one caveat. Paul had to sail with them in the 2010 Internationals in SF.

    The 1st Wife and Hubby team to venture into the JJ’s out practicing
    In the middle of winter

    There wasn’t a whole lot of time to train after the Pac Cup last year and it showed, the learning curve on these carbon rocket ships in pretty drastic. “ Discipline” Skip points out is key “Attempting to get maneuvers and footwork properly orchestrated absolutely is critical, especially as wind increases” The two have made the most of it since the Internationals at the StFYC last August, sailing every chance they can on SF Bay and making several pilgrimages to Southern Cal to participate in events down there. When they aren’t sailing the skiff, they are usually working on it. “ It’s about a 4 to 1 ratio of time on the water vs working on boat, much like the 49ers” Points out Skip, “ But the outrageous fun of sailing these far outweighs the effort to keep them up”

    While Jody and Skip’s “Trunk Monkey” is several years old and still competitive, “ it could use a stiffer rig and a square top main,” indicates Skip, it wasn’t cheap. New rigs can run $125k US and there are limited manufacturers. Less expensive older models can be had for as little as $10K, or you could just do time and sail one for free! That’s right free…Skiff Sailing Foundation ( has several boats that need TLC. If you have the time, talent and are especially good working with carbon fiber, look em up!

    Sydney Harbor with it’s vast variety or natural turning marks make
    Wind-ward leeward’s pass’e

    Since it’s 1938 inception, The JJ’s have been held 62 times, mostly in Sydney Harbor, but also in Auckland, Brisbane, and Fiji. The Sydney Harbor with is unique geography and built in marks, solid fan base and dependable winds make it ideal. During that span, the Aussies have won the JJ 51 times, New Zealand: 7 times and US and UK twice each.

    These victories have at time been contentious, with mostly debates between OZ and NZ on rule interpretation, much like the Americas Cup. The undisputed single record holder however is Iain Murry, who won 6 consecutive JJ’s from 1977 to 1982 as is responsible for some of the most innovative design changes in the class history.

    Skip McCormack see’s a new generation of US 49er and 29er sailors primed to move into the 18’s, as their body masses exceed the 165 lb optimum and look to keep the thrill alive. With that, a real potential for additional victories on the US slot on the World Championship scorecard. Just don’t call it that. It’s the JJ’s!
    Last edited by Photoboy; 02-13-2011, 11:47 PM.
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  • #2
    Hambone Gets It

    Howie gets the Nicky treatment. Lucky dog.

    Woof. ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~