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.