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New 18ft event format bags new team: "Calshot made us take the plunge"

by Tom Hill & Luke Goble 9 May 2018 20:15 BST
The 18ft Skiff GBR 52, Sail4Cancer © Luke Goble & Tom Kiddle

This year, the success of the Solent Grand Prix Series has attracted interest from new teams joining the U.K. fleet. We speak to Luke Goble who is part of the team which has just taken on ownership of Sail4Cancer ( and ask them how they are getting on.

What made you consider starting out in an 18?

I mean, has anyone who likes sailing not seen the video* (see video below) of Nokia tearing downwind in 30 knots and thought "that looks amazing, how do I sail one of those beasts?", but then never taken it any further!

What made you take the plunge?

There happened to be a couple of us (Ben and Luke) who had the time, some spare cash and bags of energy to commit to it. We thought "hey, we could probably do this and it's likely to be awesome fun", so we did! The relatively cheap (£5/6k) entry to the class for a decent boat to learn in especially between two/three people helps, as it makes it not too financially committing.

We've taken on Sail4Cancer, which has been a great introduction to the class. The boat itself has had many notable owners who have gone on to be national champions.

What's your sailing background?

It's actually almost comical our sailing experience. The first event of the year was Ben's first ever dinghy race and it was in an 18 footer! He's only been sailing a year and is doing bow! I've (Luke) been cruising with my parents since I was young and spent the last couple of years in an RS100 along with some casual after work Internaional 14 sailing. Our third man is shared, depending who's available, by Will who has lots of single hander experience and Elliot who has sailed in a few 18 events before.

I see you're taking part in the Solent Grand Prix Series, how are you getting on/finding it?

It's great to have all the events on our doorstep. We've met tons of friendly faces and the racing is great fun. The sailing area, as many will know, can throw up many a challenge with tide, the dreaded Solent chop and the various large shipping vessels all making sure you stay sharp.

We're finding it's much more about working well as a team as opposed to being great individuals and seems to be working out OK for us.

How steep has the learning curve been?

Nowhere near as steep as we thought it might be. Due to the hull shape they are much more stable and forgiving than you may suspect. We usually find on average we swim once each outing and recovering is no major drama. The experienced teams tell me they've got to a point where they don't capsize any more - but let's see when the breeze kicks up. Fitness is important when it gets windier for sure!

What are your future plans with the 18 fleet?

Keep having lots of fun and travel some of Europe to join in this year's Mark Foy in Garda. We're also looking at options for a newer and more competitive boat as we feel ours has served its purpose of being easy to sail and a cheap way to 'have a go'.

18ft Skiff European Championship Highlights

the Highlights of International 18ft Skiff European Championship 2017

Posted by Circolo Vela Arco on Monday, 10 July 2017

What's the best part of sailing an 18?

Three strings with the kite up and how everyone in the same patch of water looks on with open eyes!

Most memorable sail so far?

Any time we're three on the wire, smoking along and Ben is giving us some Awesome Aussie Skiff commentary that's he's heard on YouTube! It is hilarious every time!

Ben and Luke have had a great start to the season and are starting to get into the groove. They are always present on the racetrack and have been stuck in at start lines and mark roundings. There's a good stock of boats available for those wanting to join in, and with a jammed packed calendar in the U.K. and Europe, there's plenty more sailing left in the season.

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