Please select your home edition
Edition
Selden

18ft Skiffs: Dave Porter, the unluckiest champion

by Frank Quealey 4 Jul 06:44 BST
Hard driving by Dave Porter and his team © Frank Quealey

David Porter became the 1975 JJ Giltinan world 18ft Skiff champion when he skippered KB to a brilliant victory on the Brisbane River, but fortune didn't always smile on the great sailor. Aside from the lone 1975 victory, David was runner-up on five other occasions between 1973 and 1979.

Despite his lack of good fortune in some of the regattas, David doesn't complain and simply says how ecstatic he was to win the 1975 championship with team mates Bob Ferris and Bob Tearne.

"It was the first time any of our crew had won the championship so it was very special to each of us. We knew we had a good boat and crew and we prepared thoroughly for the regatta on the Brisbane River."

"We capsized in Race 1 and finished only seventh, but we soon got back on track and won the remaining four races of the regatta. We partied hard and long afterwards."

While David was reluctant to say he had bad luck, the fact remains, on at least two occasions it was a matter of how he lost, in 1977 and 1978.

Any recall of his career in the 18s should focus more on the positives of a wonderful career. In nine seasons, he was six times in the top two placings at Giltinan Championships.

Aside from his results at the Giltinan Championship, David Porter won three Australian Championships, five NSW Championships and numerous Club Championships with the two Sydney 18 Footer clubs.

Like many 18 Footer champions, David joined the class in the 1970-1971 Season after winning the Inter-Dominion 12ft Skiff Championships with Aussie in 1966 and 1967.

With financial help from his father (David, senior) his first 18ft Skiff also carried the Aussie name, which was the name carried by his father on his successful 12 Footer in 1930.

The Aussie hull was designed by John Chapple and beautifully built from cedar veneer by Ian Perdriau. The bare hull, including decks and buoyancy tanks, weighed 170 lbs.

Although Aussie won two races at the 1971 Giltinan regatta in Auckland, unfavourable conditions resulted in two DNFs, which proved too costly in the overall result.

The following year, the family business supported the campaign and the boat raced as Porter Marine.

It wasn't until the 1972-1973 Season before KB came along to support his campaign.

Although he doesn't admit it, Dave Porter and KB was an awesome combination over the next six years.

The 1977 and 1978 JJ Giltinan world Championships must make him wonder about luck, and what might have been.

With a lead of 5 half minutes over Iain Murray (his nearest rival in the championship) at the final rounding mark at Auckland in 1977, Porter and the rest of the fleet elected to sail a safety-first course to the finish in a 20-knot northerly wind and big seas.

Realising he had nothing to lose, Murray pulled off the 'impossible' when he decided to sail the direct course to the finish and grabbed the title away from Porter.

As if that defeat wasn't bad enough, the following year Porter was incredibly unlucky before losing to Murray in a sail-off on the Brisbane River.

After taking a strong grip on the series with wins in each of the first two races, Porter's KB suffered a broken mast in Race 5 and was forced to use a borrowed rig in the sail-off.

KB took an early lead, but when Iain Murray's team set a brand new super-lightweight spinnaker on Color 7, the KB crew could do nothing but watch as Color 7 sailed past to victory.

Regardless of his Giltinan Championship disappointments, during the 1970s, David proved himself to be one of the greatest 18 Footer sailors in the sport's history and, in his gold-coloured KB skiffs, was The King of Sydney Harbour.

Related Articles

Mark Foy - Father of the 18 Footers
Keen sailor, successful businessman with an acute eye for promotion The man responsible for the birth of 18-Footer racing some 128 years ago (January 1892) was a leading Sydney retailer named Mark Foy, who was a keen sailor as well as being a very successful businessman with an acute eye for promotion. Posted on 2 Aug
18ft Skiffs: Queensland's golden days
Queensland 18 Footer designers, boat builders and sailors won more Australian Championships than NSW With the Brisbane 18 Footers' SC celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2020, it's a good time to reflect on the 'golden days' of Queensland's 18 Footer racing when they made such a significant contribution to the development and achievements in the sport Posted on 26 Jul
Bill Barnett, an incredible designer & competitor
From 18ft Skiffs to international 12 metre class yachts The late Bill Barnett was a famous sailing identity who designed, built and raced world champion boats from 18ft Skiffs to international 12 metre class yachts to challenge for The America's Cup. Posted on 18 Jul
Hugh Treharne, a great Australian sailing talent
Renowned 16ft and 18ft Skiff sailor, tactician on Australia II in 1983 Hugh Treharne is one of Australia's greatest sailors. He was tactician on The America's Cup-winning Australia II in 1983, a renowned 16ft and 18ft Skiff sailor, a widely recognised sailmaker and a world champion blue water yachtsman. Posted on 12 Jul
In Conversation with Tristan Walker-Hutt
New projects during lockdown for the East Coast sailor Back in January 2019 we published the 'Budget Ultra-High Performance Sailing' article about the International 14 Fawkes, which Tristan Walker-Hutt and Tom Clayton had renovated on a very tight budget. Posted on 2 Jul
TraveLodge's 18ft Skiff sponsorship
A world championship-winning association with Bob Holmes A sponsor who came to the 18 Footers in 1964 was the TraveLodge company which decided to sponsor Bob Holmes, who was a new, young competitor to the class. Posted on 28 Jun
How Len Heffernan changed the Sydney 18ft Skiffs
Taking up the challenge to transition to three-handers in the 1960s Brisbane led the way in the transition from the four-handed 18ft Skiffs to the three-handers in the late 1950s, but it was the late Len Heffernan who took up the challenge to introduce the new style boats to Sydney. Posted on 25 Jun
Sailing is freedom
We can all mess about in or on any type of boat or board It seems 'The Great Grass Roots Revival?' and 'Messing about in boats' had quite an impact. With my own eyes I see what is happening on my doorstep with more activity on the water than I've seen in years, but this was just the microcosm that I live in. Posted on 22 Jun
New 18ft Skiff teams wanted for 2020 - Apply Now
An amazing opportunity to sail and learn from some of the best sailors around The Australian 18 Footers League has long had a policy of introducing new and young teams into its fleet to ensure the continued growth and quality of the club's 85-year-old tradition of 18ft Skiff Racing on Sydney Harbour. Posted on 21 Jun
New Zealand's 18ft Skiff Racing Record
Three consecutive victories just the latest chapter of an 82-year-old story Three consecutive victories by the Honda Marine team of David McDiarmid, Brad Collins and Matt Steven in the world's premier JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship over the past three seasons, gives New Zealanders every right to boast at the moment. Posted on 18 Jun