Main photo: Alex Marinelli’s The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines on the way to victory in Race 2 of the Spring Championship

When the young The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines team of Alex Marinelli, Darcy McCracken and Matt Doyle won Race 2 of the Spring Championship on Sydney Harbour last Sunday it was also a victory for the Australian 18 Footers League and its youth development policy of encouraging talented young sailors into the world of 18ft skiff racing. 

On a day when tactics, as well as boat speed, were critical to success, The Oak team showed it was prepared to trust its judgement from the beginning of the race when it elected to sail a course west of Shark Island while most of the fleet went to the eastern side. 

It was a move which set up a position close to the lead and the young crew were never further back than second place throughout the entire three laps of the course. 

A double bonus for the youth policy was the fact that the second placegetter in the race was a rookie team, Nathan McNamara, Peter McLeod and Conor Hay, which was having only its second race in an 18. 

Alex Marinelli first came to the 18s, crewing with Tom Cunich during the 2020-21 season, then took over his own team last season when he became skipper of the Appliancesonline-sponsored skiff. 

In 2021-22 he had Darcy McCracken and Tyler Creevey as his crew and they had intended to continue as a team until a wrist surgery forced Tyler out for the season. 

Matt Doyle has had a few seasons experience with a variety of teams and had planned to take the season off before being encouraged by Alex to join The Oak team.  “It was helpful to have Matt Doyle come in this season to the bow at the last minute after our regular bowman Tyler Creevey found out he requires wrist surgery that would put him out of action for 5 months.” 

Steve Quigley, the 1996 world 18 footer champion and Director at the Australian 18 Footers League, is a great supporter of the club’s youth policy and has been active with the introduction of new talent into the class for several years. 

“The youth development policy is something I’m passionate about and it seems to be paying dividends, and it’s encouraging to see our new teams providing youth and enthusiasm and a high level of vitality to the fleet, and generating a good vibe in the boat park.”   

Alex’s professional attitude was soon obvious as the AOL team progressed each week throughout the 2021-22 season, and last weekend’s victory is a good reward for the effort. 

The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines shares the lead in the Spring Championship with a total of seven points.  Ironically, it’s the very experienced Yandoo team of John Winning, Fang Warren and Josh Porebski that shares the lead with The Oak. 

Race 1 winner, Shaw and Partners (Jim Colley) is third, along with Cam Gundy’s team, sailing the former Ilve skiff, on eleven points. 

Noakes Blue is fifth on 13 points, ahead of Burrawang-Young Henrys (Simon Nearn) and Birkenhead Point Marina (Kirk Mitchell), which are in equal sixth place with a total of 16 points. 

Sunday’s Race 3 of the Spring Championship will be held in conjunction with Race 1 of the Club Championship, which will be the first race of the new season to be sailed over a full championship course. 

Two interesting factors in Sunday’s race are the first race for the brand new Rag & Famish Hotel skiff, which will be skippered by Harry Price, and the return of Marcus Ashley-Jones as skipper of the 2022 Mark Foy Trophy champion Lazarus. 

Ashley-Jones and Keagan York have an arrangement whereby they will be sharing the skippering of Lazarus over the early stages of the season while York is waiting to take delivery of his new Finport Finance skiff hull. 

The inclusion of the new Rag & Famish Hotel skiff into the fleet this week will also generate some friendly rivalry between the two hotel-sponsored teams, Rag & Famish Hotel and The Oak Double Bay. 

As Alex Marinelli points out, “The Rag skipper, Harry Price and I have agreed to a deal for the handicap races where the winner has to shout the other skipper lunch at the respective sponsoring pub the next week.” 

Spectators can follow the action on board the club’s spectator ferry, as they have done for the past 87 years, which leaves Double Bay Wharf alongside the clubhouse at 2pm.

Booking online through the club’s website is essential

For anyone who can’t make it out onto the water, the League’s live broadcast team will be out on Sydney Harbour to capture all the action.  Live streaming is available at by clicking on the 18 Footers TV link. 

For all the club’s racing and up-to-date news: 

Club Website

For anyone who wants to take a look at Sail Media’s action videos from the 2021-22 season, including the 2022 JJ Giltinan Championship, go to and click on the 18 Footers TV link.

Frank Quealey
Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.