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18ft Skiff Racing livestream moves to a new era

by Frank Quealey 29 Jan 06:26 GMT 29 January 2021
2018-2019 Season coverage © Frank Quealey

Back in the early 2000s John and Kerrie Winning, along with the late Bob 'Killo' Killick, had a vision of presenting 18ft Skiff Racing on Sydney Harbour to the world.

The original trio put the time and funding into making the dream a reality and the fruits of their efforts are now being enjoyed around the world in a way they could never have imagined at the time.

For many years, 'Killo' (a former top 18ft Skiff skipper) was a one-man-band on the water. He drove the specially designed catamaran camera boat, organised a cameraman to film the action, fronted the camera and provided the knowledgeable commentary, then supervised the vision of the finished product which went to air.

Bob was always the promoter or visionary who would look to the future, so it wasn't surprising that he began to examine the possibility of livestreaming of the races. Before you know it he was out there with one cameraman and doing just that - pioneering the live streaming of sailing.

Jono Whitty, who was a skipper in the Australian 18 Footers League fleet at the time, had a technical knowledge and progressed the operation in several stages with more advanced cameras and the introduction of the drone footage. The camera cat was lengthened and refitted to better deal with the extremely difficult weather and traffic conditions encountered on a busy Sydney Harbour.

The production has continued to evolve including the expert commentary being provided by former world 18ft Skiff champions, champions from other classes and pro commentators.

Following the incredible success of the past, the League is now in the process of moving to the next stage of development and is transitioning to a new production and camera set up and ultimately a new boat under the direction of James Bury - long-time camera cat driver and skiff sailor.

League President John Winning explains: "we are aware we have had to take a couple of steps back in order to move forward as Jimmy builds his SailMedia team and installs new equipment."

"We ask our audience to bear with us and cut the production team some slack whilst they pull the latest equipment together. It is no easy task on a limited budget with a lot of electronics in a very hostile environment but we will get there."

Previous years' footage makes for some great watching and the archives include history and races going back decades. Check it out on the 18 Footers Youtube channel.

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