North Sails NEWS

July 12, 2018


Interview With The 18ft Skiff World Champion

After three prior attempts, Matt Steven and his crew onboard Honda Racing accomplished their ultimate goal of winning the JJ Giltinan World Championship in Sydney representing Royal Akarana Yacht Club and the Auckland Skiff League.

©Suellen Davies / Live Sail Die

Matt, New Zealand North Sails expert is a keen match racer and keelboat sailor, taking part in the World Match Racing Tour and the Extreme Sailing Series. He also has a passion for Skiff sailing and was recently named World Champion after coming a close second two years in a row. The 18’ Skiff is at the pinnacle of sail and hull development and North Sails are proud to have kitted Matt’s boat with a 3Di mainsail.

We had a chat with Matt about his success and what helped him to get there.

Matt, give us a brief overview of the conditions at the Worlds and your main competition?

We had a full mix bag of conditions ranging from 5 knots to 25 knots and SW through to NE. The NZ fleet have really stepped up in the last few years with some top young sailors coming into the class. We knew our toughest competition would be from the young NZ Maersk team who we had been training with back home.

What were your goals going into the regatta?

We only had one result in mind as our outcome goal after finishing agonisingly close to the top spot in the previous two years. We had a clear plan of keeping clean, sailing conservatively and minimising risk.

In your opinion, what were the key aspects that helped you win the Worlds this year?

Keeping calm and self-belief I think. We faced some adversity on the first day. Our bowman tore two ligaments in his ankle before the start of the first race in a practice tack, still not sure how but he got through the pain! Once we started we were fouled by a cruising boat and found ourselves in last place at the top mark, but fought our way back to fourth. That ended up giving us the confidence that we were fast. A good debrief on day one set the tone for the regatta, which led to a more conservative approach. This ended up being a winning formula.

Tell us a little about the sails you use and what makes them so fast.

We use 3Di RAW for the mainsails and our 3DL jibs from the previous year. We’ve transitioned to 100% 3Di for the coming season. We have worked closely with designers, giving them lots of feedback and just making small improvements each year. It has been a big catch up game to compete with the Aussies, but we now feel at least on par speed wise using the right sails and design.

The biggest gain with the 3Di sails is every time we go sailing the sail shape is exactly the same there is very low stretch and they last extremely well.

What’s your top tip for success in any boat/fleet?

Understand what gear you have and how to use it. It’s not the quantity of training it is the quality, if you always have small micro goals and tick them off you will see large gains in the long run.

We know you are also competitive in other classes around NZL, what are your plans for the rest of the year?

At the moment I am sailing in the Auckland Keelboat fleet, sailing with different customers each week through the winter series. I am also aiming to do the NZ Match Racing Nationals. Come summer we will be back in the 18, gearing up to defend the title and get a few more kiwi boats up to the top of the fleet. I also love cruising. Having grown up cruising every summer as a kid I have a strong goal to take some time off this year and get out and see the wider Hauraki Gulf.

If you are interested in North 3Di products, get in touch with Matt Steven to see what we can do for you.

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