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18ft Skiffs: Marcus Ashley-Jones back for the challenge

by Frank Quealey 22 Oct 07:54 BST
The Andoo team cross the finish line to win race 2 of the 18ft Skiff Spring Championship © Frank Quealey

When Marcus Ashley-Jones, Jeronimo Harrison and Cam Gundy sailed Andoo to victory in last Sunday's Race 2 of the Spring 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour they showed that the team will be a force in the JJ Giltinan and Australian championships later in this season.

Next Sunday (October 25) the Andoo team will get its first big test when it contests Race 1 of the Australian 18 Footers League Club Championship against a strong 18-boat fleet.

Major contenders for the club championship include the current Australian champion tech2 (Jack Macartney), 2019 NSW champion Winning Group (John Winning Jr.) and Smeg, skippered by three-time JJ Giltinan champion Michael Coxon.

Other top teams include The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Aron Everett), Finport Finance (Keagan York), Noakesailing (Sean Langman), Bird & Bear (Tom Clout), The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone (Jordan Girdis) and Yandoo (John Winning).

Four brand new rookie teams will also get their first taste of 18ft Skiff championship racing on Sunday.

Marcus Ashley-Jones returned to the 18s in 2019-2020 following a two-season break after the 2016-2017 season, when he skippered Asko Appliances to sixth placing at the 2017 JJ Giltinan world Championship.

Prior to that, Marcus began his career in the 18s in the 2009-2010 season when he skippered Club Marine. Along with his teammates Stewart Wells and Bert Schandevyl, he won Race one of the 2010 JJ Giltinan world Championship - the first race he had ever sailed in the world's most important 18ft Skiff championship.

The performance was enough to earn him a move to the strong Asko Appliances team in 2010-2011. Stewart Wells remained in the team while a newcomer to the 18s, Aron Everett replaced Bert Schandevyl.

Aron Everett has progressed to become one of the 18s top skippers in the fleet (The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines) and will be one of Marcus' biggest competitors at the 2021 JJs.

Marcus remained as skipper of the Asko Appliances-sponsored skiffs from 2010-2011 until he left the 18s at the end of 2016-2017. The Ashley-Jones Asko teams were always competitive at the JJs and produced several top-10 placings. The best was a fourth place overall in 2015.

He spent the next two seasons sailing with his good mate and 18 Footer star David Witt aboard the 100ft maxi SHK Scallywag in four Sydney-Hobarts, and the Volvo Ocean Race in the VO65 SHK Scallywag. In 2020 Marcus skippered the 72-foot URM to rack up his 16th Sydney-Hobart race, before he returned to the 18s last season in a skiff sponsored by URM.

During that time he also became a father for the first time with a baby son named Phoenix.

Marcus has always had a very professional attitude and is prepared to spend the hours required for success in the major championships.

"When you compete, you want to be a winner for the owner/sponsor, your teammates and yourself. The only way I believe you can do that is to be totally prepared before you go out onto the course."

He has great confidence in his crew. "Jezza (Jeronimo Harrison) is a great mate who has competed with me at four JJ Giltinan championship regattas. He is also a top class sailor and won the most recent MC38 regatta."

"Cam (Cam Gundy) joined me last season and is also a very talented sailor, who campaigns his own 12ft Skiff each Saturday as well as sailing our 18 on the Sunday."

When seven-time JJ Giltinan world champion skipper Seve Jarvin and former Australian champion James Dorron are prepared to sail in your crew, there is an obvious fact that you are regarded as a champion sailor.

Spectators can follow the racing on board the club's spectator ferry, however due to the COVID-19 policy, numbers are limited.

Booking online through the club's website is essential, on the following link www.18footers.com.au/18-footers-sailing/spectator-ferry

For those unable to make it onto the water, AeroMedia Live Broadcast team will be on Sydney Harbour to capture all the action and live streaming is available at www.18footers.com by clicking on the '18 Footers TV' link.

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