Please select your home edition
Edition app (top)

Gladwell's Line: Tight fleet makes great racing in the JJ's

by Richard Gladwell/ 8 Mar 2019 10:04 GMT 8 March 2019
Winning Group on Sydney Harbour - where else? JJ Giltinan Trophy - March 2019 © Michael Chittenden

In Sydney, New Zealand's defence of the JJ Giltinan Championship is progressing well with two races left in the regatta.

There are four New Zealand teams competing - the defending champion Honda Marine, ASCC - runner up in the 2018 event and an outstanding performance from her rookie crew led by Josh Porebski, C-Tech skippered by Alex (Ginge) Vallings who is synonymous with the 12ft skiff and 18ft skiff scene, and Maersk Line sailed by a rookie crew led by Peron Pease.

After finishing second in controversial circumstances in the 2017 JJ's, Honda Marine dominated the regatta in 2018, and is doing the same again. What the Kiwis didn't know before leaving Auckland was if they were sailing faster than the Australians, and the results would tend to indicate that was indeed the case.

One simple statistic underlines the Kiwi dominance - the Australian crews, sailing in their home waters - have only won a single race of the seven sailed to date. However at least ten boats in the fleet from five nations are capable of winning a race. A German crew led for most of Race 7. Honda Marine has won four races, C-Tech and ASCC have won a race apiece.

This is in the regatta that prior to last year had not been won by a New Zealand boat for 40 years, and given that the Australians enjoyed a substantial home town advantage - the JJ Giltinan Trophy had been considered to be almost unwinnable.

What is impressive about Honda Marine's performance is their ability to sail themselves out of trouble - none more so than in today's second race. They were back in eighth place going into the second and final beat and came through to be first and enjoying a reasonably safe lead going into the final run to the finish.

Same for ASCC helmed by 49er sailor Josh Porebski, who scored a first and second in the races sailed today - and came within a few metres of coming away with two wins from two races. ASCC has been a little up and down this regatta, but like Honda Marine, they can make bold moves and reap the rewards. It is quite remarkable to watch - given that it is Sydney Harbour - and the Kiwis are sailing against generations of local knowledge.

All the Kiwi boats have had their moments in the regatta - with C-Tech winning the third race - sailed in the most extreme conditions to date with the seabreeze gusting to 25kts. Maersk Line got into the lead bunch today - her second foray into the top ten.

Coverage of the regatta has gone up several notches this year, with up to ten cameras being deployed, including extensive use of drone-borne cameras which replace helicopters - in fact, there are no choppers used for the coverage.

That means greatly reduced costs, and no downdraft to interfere with the race-boats.

Aeromedia, owned by one of the 18ft skippers in the regatta, Jono Whitty, is providing many of the facilities and production for the event.

Another key part of the production team is the camera cat - an aluminium rocketship which started life carrying commentators and has been modified to take a small camera and video production team.

The point that sets this event apart from the others is that the commentary team is on the water, and can see the video that is being transmitted.

In this event there is none of the oft-criticised studio based commentary team who are disconnected from the events on the water. It is a commentator led production, and works very well indeed.

The lead, or continuity commentator, Mark Heeley has a very good understanding of the event, and the 18fters generally. English born and with minimal accent, he speaks clearly and is easy to understand. Mark has been associated with the event for many years. He is on the camera cat along with two other commentators - one of whom is usually a guest commentator of the likes of Andrew Buckland, Peter Shipway and Iain Murray - who are able to bring a fresh perspective to the racing and provide some interesting comment on other matters sailing in between. The camera cat driver this year Jimmy Bury, an ex-18 and 16ft skiff sailor who is making a huge difference with his knowledge of not only driving in amongst the fleet but also his commentary.

The camera work is very good - given the very raw circumstances. This regatta we have been treated to some outstanding sequences of 18ft skiffs at full flight, sailing with big rigs downwind in a big seabreeze.

Is the JJ's the best sailing TV in the world? It's hard to think of one that's better.

This regatta is a must see - it is broadcast live on Youtube - and embedded on the home page of Sail-World. Other broadcasters of sailing events should be taking very careful notes of this unique, raw and very high-quality live production.

For sure the now largely one-design 18ft skiffs would have made a much better Olympic Event sailing a nine or 12 race series than watching a two-night two-handed Offshore Race.

Mixed skiff, anyone?

Related Articles

There's a place called Hobart
It's pretty special all year round, and it's also a good springboard It's pretty special all year round. Hobart is also a marvellous springboard from which to leap into history, culinary delights, nature's gifts of both flora and fauna, all manner of beverages, trails, bushwalking... Posted on 22 Nov
Gladwell's Line: The Cup accelerates
To our eye, the Challengers' Version 2 AC75's are all very similar in performance As we have said in a couple of the Rialto stories, the Challengers' Version 2 AC75's are all very similar in performance - and to our eye don't look like they are any quicker than Emirates Team New Zealand's Version 1 AC75, Te Aihe. Posted on 19 Nov
Sail-World NZ: Nov 19 - Latest NZ and World News
Covering the America's Cup is always tricky, as what the teams will let go, and what is being seen o Covering the America's Cup is always tricky, as what the teams will let go, and what is being seen on the water are two quite different matters. Posted on 17 Nov
Tsunami buoys in Thailand being replaced
Safety system vandalised - 'scavenged' Thailand tsunami warning buoys will be re-installed after one buoy got loose and floated off and the other appeared to have been scavenged for parts. Posted on 17 Nov
When I was young, I did everything to excess...
A lot of things behind the Groupe Beneteau brand, Excess, resonate There are a lot of things behind the Groupe Beneteau brand, Excess, that resonate. Chiefly there was a bit of irony behind the name, and who doesn't like a giggle? Posted on 16 Nov
Five X2 makes for the perfect 10
This is the fifth instalment of the Farr X2 story, and we speak with the first two owners... This is the fifth instalment of the Farr X2 story. Today, we speak with the first two owners of the new boat, and catch up on the latest developments with this exciting speed demon, such as rating, pricing, and specifications. Posted on 8 Nov
Double, double, toil and trouble
We ran our originalarticle, Double trouble?, back on August 3, 2020. We ran the original article, Double trouble?, back on August 3, 2020. It seems terribly prudent to go back to that piece once more, now that the double-handers have learned of their fate after entries closed. Posted on 4 Nov
Good thinking, 99!
Well yes it is, Max. So we thought we might Get Smart after reviewing this video Well yes it is, Max. So we thought we might Get Smart after reviewing this video once more, and come back to have another look at the J/99 after quite a hiatus. Posted on 1 Nov
What to do?
There wasn't really a question in it; this person is very industrious To be honest, it is not really a question you have to ask of the subject of today's Editorial. She's a ball of energy with a fantastic work ethic, an enduring smile, and a certain tenacity that reminds you of the claws below a wedge-tailed eagle. Posted on 18 Oct
M.A.T 1340 - Time to go racing
We actually had our first look at the new mark Mills penned M.A.T.1340 back in Let's go racing We actually had our first little look at the new mark Mills penned M.A.T.1340 back in June's, Let's go racing... Posted on 17 Oct