Drone footage from heat 3 of the NSW State Championships
Manly Surf n Slide have won this years NSW State Championship. Congratulations, Dave OConner, Trent Barnabas and Rob Napper
It’s the red carpet ride to a state title that Manly sailor Dave O’Connor is not about to knock back.
The Manly Surf n Slide 16ft skiff skipper returns to the helm this weekend for the final two heats of the NSW Championships at Gosford, knowing only a major catastrophe can prevent the silverware heading his way.
With O’Connor on an overseas work/business trip, stand-in skipper Nathan Wilmot chalked up back-to-back wins in Newcastle a fortnight ago to give SnS a stranglehold on the title.
Solid results in the final two heats in Gosford will secure SnS the crown.
“I’ve been copping a bit of heat over walking back in after two wins but I am stoked,” O’Connor said.
“They have done all the hard work and set it up nicely and I’ve just got to go out there and get two half-decent results and we’ll be fine.
“Who wouldn’t take that? It’s certainly better than the alternative.”
SnS could wrap the championship up with a top three placing in Saturday’s heat three, rendering Sunday’s fourth race almost redundant.
Realistically, only Manly stablemate Cunninghams (Nick Connor) and defending champion Brydens (Lee Knapton) are in striking distance on the overall pointscore, but they would need a minor miracle to overhaul O’Connor.
“But we’re not looking at it like that,” the SnS skipper said.
“There is so much for us to focus on that I’m not really worried about the points.
“We want to put a whole race together, step by step, and the points will sort themselves out.”
But O’Connor admits combining with crew members Rob Napper and Trent Barnabas to win a state title in his first year as a 16ft skipper would be something special.
He said: “It would be awesome. Winning anything in this fleet is an achievement.”
Six Manly boats sit inside the top 10 heading into the final two heats.
Meanwhile, after two days of heavy winds, the breeze dropped to nothing and forced race officials to cancel heat two of the Manly club championship last Saturday.
Saturdays Club Championship Race3 was abandoned because of a lack of breeze
Saturdays Club Championship race 2 was abandoned because of a lack of breeze
Sutech makes it 2 in a row after winning yesterdays Point Score Race 6 from Fluid and Lancelin Ropes
Harry Price, Paul MacKenzie and Matt Stenta won yesterdays race from Manly Surf n’ Slide and Lancelin Ropes
Craig Nicholls has been part of the Manly 16ft Skiff Club fleet for 31 straight years.
So when the Typhoon skipper tells you winning a heat of the Manly club championship is just as hard as winning at state or national level, it’s worth taking notice.
Ahead of the first heat of the 2018/19 club championship on Saturday, Nicholls easily rattles off five or six boats that are genuine contenders.
And just below that list, there’s another half dozen boats capable of challenging.
“You obviously get a few more boats from other clubs at the states and nationals, but the intensity is no different to a heat at Manly,” Nicholls said.
“I’d say it’s just as hard winning here as it is at the other levels. It’s just the same.
“The fleet strength this year is just as good as last year, if not stronger.
“Everyone’s a year wiser.”
For the record, Nicholls believes the main contenders for the club championship will emerge from Manly Surf n Slide (David O’Connor), Koreman Marine Composites (Felix Grech), Sutech (Daniel Turner) and Fluid Building (Kirk Mitchell).
He also doesn’t discount the chances of Botany Access (Chris Thomas), Southerly (Matt Triglone) and Lancelin Ropes (Sarah Lee).
And the Typhoon skipper hopes he can combine with experienced crew members Rolf Cohen and Mitch White to cause a few upsets along the way.
“It’s all in the start. If you get a good start and get around that top mark, you can pretty much hold your lane because most boats go the same pace,” Nicholls explained.
“But if you get a bad start you can quite easily come 18th.
“Everyone is brushing up on their starting procedures. It’s critical. It’s 70 per cent of your race.”
“We’re aiming for a top 10 spot…any place above 10 is a bonus.”
Strong wind and wave conditions forced the postponement of racing on the long weekend, ensuring the Manly fleet is fresh and raring to go for the opening heat of the club championship.
Drone footage by Alex Chittenden of PS3
Manly Surf n Slide wins todays Point Score 3 race from FLUID BUILDING and Sutech
Video by @tillylockmedia
Koreman Marine Composites (Felix Grech, Tom Potter and Paul Darmanin ) have won the first race of the season (PS1) from "Southerly" and "Lancelin Ropes"
At the sound of the horn, the season has begun
The first race of the season was a Non Point Score race but that didn't stop them from showing plenty of early form....
Lancelin Ropes looking for some wind..............
Shaking out the cobwebs. A blast across the Harbour entrance with a 20knt westerly to keep them company