Growthbuilt skipper Ryan Wilmot called it the craziest day of skiff sailing he’d ever encountered.
And looking at the carnage at the end of Manly 16ft Skiff Club’s first longcourse race of the season on Saturday, it’s hard to argue.
Eighteen boats faced the starter’s gun and only three made it across the finish line.
A total of 15 limped back to the beach after being battered, bruised and buried by the damaging 20-knot breeze.
Wilmot only just got across the line with his boat intact.
Wisely choosing the little rig to accommodate the fresh conditions, Wilmot and stand-in crew Mike Childs and James Hodgson nursed Growthbuilt all the way.
Problems with the halyard, rudder and a broken gudgeon threatened to end their race, but they held on and prayed.
The winning margin of over eight minutes looks comfortable on paper but it was anything but, especially with Hodgson and Childs making their way back after a long lay-off.
Shebang (Eddie Wray) and Lancelin Pacific (Sarah Lee) finished second and third respectively.
“It was bit of a strange day. It was funky,” Wilmot said.
“It was the craziest day …probably the weirdest day’s skiff racing I’ve had.
“We had plenty on our plate but so did everyone else. It was something just to finish.
“We were neck and neck with Botany Access for most of the race but they snapped their rudder at the top mark.
“We turned around and couldn’t see another boat so just cruised it in from there.”
But even the final stages weren’t smooth sailing.
“My rudder popped out on the last downwind (leg). The pin popped out bottom gudgeon so I had to capsize and jam it back in to finish the race,” Wilmot said.
“I’m surprised we finished. We had a couple of bolts sticking out.
“It was hairy.”
Wilmot will take Growthbuilt in for running repairs ahead of an important series of races after the long weekend.
After a competitive but ultimately frustrating 2018/19 season, Wilmot is hungry for silverware this summer.
“Our goal is to be better than last year,” he said.
“We were fourth in the clubs, states and nationals. It’d be nice to move forward and break into the top three.”
NON POINT SCORE: 21.09.2019:
Manly 16ft skiff skipper Daniel Turner says the time for cheap talk is over and his brand new boat must start winning some silverware.
Turner’s last trophy was the Manly Club Championship seven years ago, with several near misses and mishaps pockmarking recent campaigns.
But with a brand new boat – renamed Sutech Musto Racing – and a change of crew, there are no more excuses.
“It’s time for this boat to win something again. It’s been a while,” Turner said.
“There have been plenty of podium finishes since we last won anything, but we want more.
“We need to perform and put results on the board otherwise it might be my head on the chopping block.”
Sutech hit the ground running with an impressive win in last Saturday’s opening race of Manly 16ft Skiff Club’s 2019/20 season.
With just one training session aboard the newly-minted boat and Gus Williams debuting on the mainsheet, Turner guided Sutech to a narrow win in a stiff 15-20 knot nor’ easter.
It was a gruelling workout in testing conditions, with 15 boats facing the starter’s gun for what is traditionally a cobweb blowing exercise after the winter lay-off.
But the pace was on from the get-go, with Sutech pushed all the way by IMEI (Dave O’Connor), Lancelin Pacific (Sarah Lee) and Koreman Marine (Felix Grech) before hanging on for a 12-second win.
O’Connor finished second with Lee almost two minutes behind in third.
Lancelin Pacific took out handicap honours from Sutech and C-Side Surveyors (Jessica Iles).
“To peel the wrappers off a new boat and to hit the water and have it feel so good and so fast is great,” Turner said.
“Hopefully it’s a new beginning and a sign of the season to come.”
But Turner knows it will be a fight all the way, with the Manly fleet again boasting a strong line-up of boats and experienced skippers.
IMEI, coming off triple trophy success last season, will again be the one to beat.
Turner said: “Dave and his boys will be tough but there are threats everywhere at Manly
“There’s no such thing as an easy race.”
Racing continues on Saturday with heat one of the long course pointscore series.
SEASON WRAP: 13.04.2019
Manly 16ft Skiff Club commodore Grant Windsham is taking an altruistic approach to next season after overseeing one of the greatest campaigns in the club’s 96-year history
Manly won the national 16ft and 13ft titles as well as the Flying 11 Australian Championships and Manly Juniors nationals.
It’s the first time in more than a decade Manly has been home to four national champions in the one year.
Windsham naturally enjoys walking past a full trophy cabinet, but acknowledges the sport will only be as strong as its weakest link.
“While it would be great to go out and win everything again next year, it would also be good to see other clubs taste some success,” he said.
“That would be healthy for the sport. If the success is spread around it will be hugely beneficial in the long run.
“We really want to focus on growth in our junior division and maintain stability within the senior classes.”
Manly has been the flag-bearer for the various classes in recent times, employing the most progressive and innovative sailing program in the country.
It’s produced countless champions and champions of the future.
Windsham said: “The club has never been in such a good position. We will continue to have some challenges in increasing or maintaining participation - this is a sailing-wide issue - but Manly looks strong well into the future.”
Sixteen-foot skipper David O’Connor piloted Manly Surf n Slide to the triple crown – club, state and national titles – in his first year in charge.
He believes Manly is the envy of all other clubs.
“The set-up, the support, the competition… it’s like nothing you will see elsewhere,” O’Connor said.
“It makes you want to push yourself and that weekly competition at club level puts you in good stead at the big regattas.”
Trent Barnabas, who crews aboard SnS with O’Connor, added: “You don’t know from week to week who’s going to win because the fleet is so competitive.
“And a lot of the younger guys are pushing the older guys so the future looks very strong.”
The 2018/19 season drew to a close on Saturday with the final pointscore race of the season.
It was won by Chapman High Performance Sailing (Paul Darmanin)
The club will hold its annual presentation night at the skiffies on May 4.
KIDS SWAP DAY: 06:04:2019
Trent Barnabas still has solid memories of sailing back to the beach as a kid on father Trevor’s famous Chesty Bond 18-footer in the 1980s.
All of seven, Trent would hop aboard post-race and take the ride back to the rigging area.
“I’ve got vivid memories of doing that with the old man,” he said.
“It gave me a feel for it and a hunger to want to do it myself. By 14 I was sailing 18s with Dad.”
The memories of those experiences are one of the big reason Trent is one of the first to put his hand up for Manly 16ft Skiff Club’s annual swap day.
It gives junior sailors the chance to head out and rub shoulders with the club’s senior 16ft fleet.
“There is a fun aspect to it but it’s also about giving kids a feel for the 13s and 16s in the hope they stay in the sport and help the classes build and become even stronger,” Trent explained.
“We had perfect conditions and everyone finished with a big smile on their faces at the end of it.
“It’s important that we continue to bring the next generation through.”
Asked how important swap day is to the skiff club, Manly 16ft Commodore Grant Windsham replied: “It’swithout doubt the highlight of our sailing program.
“The day was put in place at least six years ago to bring the whole club together, and give the junior division an opportunity to sail a 16ft skiff.
“Not only did we have participation from every 16ft skiff that regularly sails with us, but almost all the junior division turned up, with many of the skiffies also giving their wives and partners a sail.
“Overall the day was a great representation of what sailing at Manly is about and hopefully it leads to stronger numbers in the future.”
One participant who won’t be signing up anytime soon is Trent’s wife Christine.
She went for a spin with her husband aboard a 13-footer but it’s strictly a once-a-year affair.
Trent joked: “She enjoyed it but I think she’s much more comfortable back on a shore with a champagne in her hand.”
· Champion Manly skipper Clint Bowen was presented the 16ft Skiff Class Association Medal, on behalf of the Australian 16ft Skiff Class Association, after Saturday’s swap day.
The medal acknowledges Bowen’s achievements and commitment to the sport over the past 13-plus years.
CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP HEAT 7: 30:03:2019
In the end, Manly Surf n Slide didn’t need to finish the final leg of its triple crown to seal a trifecta of titles across the 2018/19 season.
After winning the state and national titles, SnS clinched the Manly 16ft Skiff club championship the moment last Saturday’s seventh and final heat was cancelled due to strong winds on Sydney Harbour.
With no time to reschedule the race, the club championship was decided on the results of the first six heats, with the Dave O’Connor-skippered SnS a clear winner.
O’Connor and crewmates Rob Napper and Trent Barnabas sealed the deal with an ultra-consistent campaign that yielded three wins, two seconds and a third.
Things could not have gone any smoother for the first-year skipper.
“The boys were really motivated to make it happen and I’m really proud of what we've been able to achieve this year,” O’Connor said.
“You never quite know how it’s going to work until you get out there, but having sailed a lot in the 18s with Trent, we know how we both think and operate so we were able to quickly get in sync.
“Then you add someone as experienced as Rob, who is constantly feeding us important data around the race course.
“It just makes everything run smoothly even when there is a bit of chaos or things aren't going to plan.
“Throw in Baz Atkins, who with Trent really has the boat dialled in, and it's a pleasure to sail.”
O’Connor confirmed his team will remain together to defend all three titles next season – and they will be sailing on a new boat.
“It's such fun, competitive racing and easy to fit in with family life. The boats are easy to rig, we sail in great locations and I just have to ride my bike down the road from my house to go for a sail on Saturday, so why wouldn't we go again?” O’Connor said.
“We will have a lot to live up to but I'm pumped to get a new boat and to try to do it all again.”
SnS was hoping to wrap up the club championship under race conditions, but were robbed of the opportunity when race organisers wisely called the heat off.
Winds were touching 37 knots when the call was made and boats ordered back to land.
It was not all smiles for SnS, which capsized on the way back to the beach, leaving Barnabas with a nasty ankle injury.
Sutech (Daniel Turner) finished second in the club championship pointscore followed by Koreman Marine (Felix Grech) and Growthbuilt (Ryan Wilmot).
· Manly 16ft Skiff Club will host the popular junior ‘swap day’ and end-of-season party on Saturday.
Some of the club’s best up-and-coming sailors will be given the chance to sail aboard a 16-footer alongside Manly’s leading skippers and crew.
It is one of the highlights of the local skiff racing calendar.
POINT SCORE RACE 17: 23:03:2019
Having conquered all in the 16ft skiff world, Fluid Building skipper Clint Bowen thought he’d be enjoying retirement and reminiscing about the glory days by now.
Approaching 50, and with a busy family and work life, Bowen was powering down, not up, after his successful partnership with crewmates Anthony King and Brent Dennis drew to a natural end.
Between them, the trio won multiple club, state and national championships.
But just as Bowen was ready to draw a line under his career, along came two new crewmates – Matt Wark and Gus Williams.
Their enthusiasm, sense of fun, youthfulness and sailing ability has carried Bowen along for the ride.
“I was thinking about giving it away,” Bowen admitted after steering Fluid to victory in last Saturday’s Manly 16ft Skiff Club pointscore race.
“I’m fast approaching 50 and was thinking maybe it’s time to go play golf or bowls, but I actually feel pretty fit and strong.
“If you keep your mind young, your body will follow and that’s what’s happened.
“I am really enjoying my sailing and that’s because these guys have a lot of fun and don’t take it too seriously, but are also great sailors in their positions.”
The Fluid team only really got together mid-December due to a host of commitments and Bowen’s shoulder injury, but they have quickly made their presence felt.
The finished fifth at the national titles and are placed to finish in the top five in the club championship, which concludes on Saturday.
Manly Surf n Slide has the title under lock and key, but expect a strong challenge from Fluid in 2019/20.
“I’m feeling really good about next season. We all are,” Bowen said.
“We’re going to be really pleased to hit the water next season on the front foot.
“The new season can’t come around quickly enough.”
Fluid finished the pointscore race two minutes ahead of Manly SnS (Robert Flanagan), with Lancelin Ropes (Sarah Lee) fourth and Shebang (Daryl Milham) fifth.
Shebang won on handicap from Fluid, Holmes Marine (Sam Holmes) and Lancelin Ropes.
· When he is not sailing, working or spending time with the family, Clint Bowen is a passionate fundraiser for cancer research.
He has cycled thousands of kilometres during five Tour de Cure bike rides across Australia, personally raising an astonishing $370,000.
CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP HEAT 6: 16:03:2019
They always had the ability - it was belief the crew on Koreman Marine had to work on.
And Manly 16ft Skiff Club skipper Felix Grech and his young crewmates Tom Potter and Paul Darmanin now have that in spades after adding another victory to their 2018/19 collection.
Koreman streeted the field to win last Saturday’s sixth heat of the Manly club championship, leaving current and former state and national champions in its wake.
The resounding victory was another reminder that some serious silverware is just around the corner.
“The second placing at the nationals against such a good fleet gave us a lot of confidence,” Grech said.
“It showed that we were on the right path and doing a lot of things right.
“This season is just about over but we can’t wait for next year. We feel we’re in a good position.”
Koreman was in a very good position from the opening minutes of the club championship race.
Grech studied the conditions intently pre-race and made the most of a late change to dominate the heat, winning by over three minutes.
“Observing the conditions made a big difference in the pre- start,” he said.
“We were planning on starting just under the fleet at the boat end and at one minute to go the breeze went hard left and we knew to head to the pin.
“We got away on port and crossed the fleet and didn’t look back from there.”
If it had looked back, Koreman would have spotted Manly Surf n Slide (Dave O’Connor), Lancelin Ropes (Sarah Lee) and Growthbuilt (Ryan Wilmot) in the rear-view mirror.
Koreman took out the double, clinching handicap honours from Growthbuilt, C-Side Surveyors (Jessica Iles) and Lancelin Ropes.
O’Connor’s second placing on scratch was enough to guarantee Manly SnS the club championship with a heat to spare.
The fight is now on for the minor placings.
Grech said: “We missed out in a couple of races but can finish third with a good finish in the final race.
“That will be the aim. It would be a great way to end the season.”
The final heat will be sailed on March 30.
Point Score Race 15: 09032019
They say talk is cheap but that’s not the case aboard Manly 16ft skiff Lancelin Ropes.
Skipper Sarah Lee wants her crew communicating as much as possible during the races to ensure they are all totally invested and concentrating every step of the way.
When the talk is constant – and positive – Lee and crewmates Chris Goluzd and James Slee are very hard to beat.
It was again evident when the trip combined to take out the 15thpointscore race of the season on Saturday.
“We just kept talking the whole time about where on the course we were and where we wanted to be next,” Lee explained.
“It’s the races when we communicate non-stop – as long as it’s helpful communication - that we know we will do well.”
The Lancelin Ropes team sat down together before Saturday’s race to plot tactics and map out the best way around the course.
The meticulous preparation paid off handsomely, with a comfortable victory over national and state champions Manly Surf n Slide (David O’Connor), Fluid Building (Clint Bowen) and Cunninghams (Nick Connor) continuing a stellar season.
“We watched some yachts sailing around, looked at the tide and wind forecast, and planned where we wanted to go,” Lee said of the pre-race planning.
“During the race we made adjustments to the plan when the wind shifted on the second upwind and again on the final upwind.
“I remember saying before the race that I just want to focus on being the fastest boat around the course and we were.”
Lancelin was also fastest around the course in taking out the final heat of the recent Australian 16ft Championships, cementing a top five finish on the overall standings.
It was further proof Lee is firmly knocking on the door of the 16ft establishment.
She said: “The 18/19 season has been our best yet. We have off days but when we all stick to our jobs and keep talking we’ve been competitive.
“James has stepped up his trimming game and Chris is helping me tactically more than ever.
“Winning the final heat of the nationals by about four minutes was an amazing feeling.
“It was great to put together a race where we were spot on and picked each shift.
“Our goals for the rest of this season is to keep doing what we are doing and next season we to consistently be in the top three and win a few more races.”
CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP RACE 5: 02.03.2019
Clint Bowen’s pain threshold is clearly greater than most normal beings.
Last Saturday the champion 16ft skiff sailor risked opening up a large wound on his right knee by competing in the fifth heat of the Manly club championship aboard Fluid Building.
That task was perhaps bested just an hour after the race as he and wife Nanette hosted a birthday party for their 13-year-old daughter and 12 of her friends.
Bowen survived both intact, combining with crewmates to win the club championship heat before heading off to the party.
The veteran skipper was a reluctant starter in the race after having his knee re-stitched just five days earlier.
A post-surgery wound had split in a previous race – and was in danger of doing so again.
“There were five layers of bandages and we were still strapping it up an hour before the race,” Bowen said.
“The doc and my wife thought I was mad but we didn’t have too many other options.
“The boys (crewmates Gus Williams and Matt Wark) looked after me well.
“I was very nervous taking the wetsuit off at the end of the race, but it was all good.”
Unsurprisingly given the condition of their skipper, Fluid was a little sluggish at the start and forced to play catch up.
Bowen caught the fleet down the first run and by the second beat had pinned back his ears to steal the lead.
At one stage Fluid led by close to three minutes before settling for a narrow 21-second win from Koreman Marine (Felix Grech), Manly Surf n Slide (Dave O’Connor) and Lancelin Ropes (Sarah Lee).
Fluid’s win has breathed new life into the club championship race, with Bowen now an outside hope of reeling in runaway series leader O’Connor over the final two heats.
“We’ve been really unlucky this year. We had pretty big intentions at the start and then I got injured in a bike crash and missed half the season,” Bowen said.
“We haven’t had much time together in the boat but when we do get together it really gels.
“We’re just starting to trust each other and be comfortable with each other and it’s now paying dividends.
“We are getting better and better. If we stay fit and healthy we will be in good shape next year.”
Now Bowen aims to finish off an up and down season with the club championship - the last trophy up for grabs in the 2018/19 campaign.
He said: “I don’t think it’s over. We will give it a good shot in the last two races but we can’t afford another bad result.
“We’re dead if we do.”
BOTANY BAY CHAMPIONSHIP
A three-week honeymoon spent skiing in Canada is not your traditional way to prepare for a major sailing regatta, but it proved the perfect lead-in for Manly 16ft skiff skipper Daniel Turner.
The Sutech skipper only returned to Sydney from the slopes of British Colombia on Thursday night and had just a day to get his boat and crew together before they headed south for the 109thrunning of the Botany Bay Championship on Saturday.
But you wouldn’t have known there had been a rushed preparation the way Turner and crew mates Paul McKenzie and Steve Bowen attacked and won the prestigious race, held in a testing southerly peaking at 30 knots.
After a slow start, Sutech worked its way around the fleet to make it a race in three with Manly stablemates Fluid Building (Clint Bowen) and Surf n Slide (Dave O’Connor).
A spectacular cartwheeling capsize by SnS on the final work allowed Sutech to pounce and claim its biggest win of 2018/19 after a two hour slugfest.
Manly took out three of the top four placings, with Fluid second from Belmont’s Southern Beach Rugby (Rod Carter) and SnS fourth.
Manly also went one-two on handicap, Fluid taking top billing from Sutech.
“Three weeks of skiing is probably not the ideal preparation for a race like this but I thought it was the best way not to fall asleep with jetlag,” Turner explained.
“I was pretty taxed by the end of it but the boys got me through.
“It’s the oldest skiff race in the world, so it’s a pretty cool one to win.”
The Botany Bay Championship is no sprint race.
It’s a full lap around the bay, starting up river and making its way to Sans Souci, down to the airport and around Kurnell before returning up the river.
“It’s a long race and the boat that stay upright and keep moving is going to win,” Turner explained.
“It suits us, especially in those sort of conditions. Sailing those boats in thirty knots is not easy, but we’d like to book those conditions in every week.”
Sutech will now turn its attention to the remaining heats of the Manly club championship.
Race six will be held this Saturday.
OLD BUFFERS DAY
It’s been a long time since Henry Harding has been considered the rookie in a sailing fleet.
After a long stretch in the oldest boat in the powerful Manly 16ft Skiff Club fleet, the 64-year-old was quite comfortable with his veteran status.
But last Saturday, Harding was the new kid on the block as sailors from yesteryear returned to the water for Manly’s traditional Old Buffers Day reunion race.
Harding didn’t have to be asked twice to steer his old boat – formerly known as Beancounters but now renamed Lakeside Fish Market – and turned back the clock with victory in the handicap division.
“I’m a relative newbie in the Old Buffers,” he said.
“I’m now eligible to sail in it because I am no longer an active racer and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when I heard we won.
“That wasn’t what I was chasing when I headed out. Winning that was a bonus. I was just thinking about reducing my handicap for next time.”
Lakeside Fish Market skipper Andrew St John handed his boat over to Harding and provided him with two excellent crewmates in Matthew and Andrew Roxbrough.
They negotiated the course, sailed in a pleasant nor’ easter, without fault to finish ahead of Ross Bell Electrical (Gary Paton/Sven Hyett), Sydney Shade Sails (Barry Hodge) and The Yellow Boat (Ross Childs).
Bart (Chris Smithers), Growthbuilt (Bob Wilmot), Lancelin Ropes (Simon Reffold) and Typhoon (Richard DeVries) were the first four across the line on scratch.
One of the most anticipated days on the local sailing calendar, Old Buffers Day offers former skippers and crew members the chance to jump back aboard a 16ft skiff to relive the glory days
Harding is still involved with the club on the rescue boat on race days, but admits he still loves to sail competitively when the opportunity arises.
“It was great to get back out there on my old boat and sail with two great sailors,” he said.
“We didn’t capsize, which is unusual for me in a race, and hardly put a foot wrong.
“I felt like I was a young kid again.”
Asked if there was any wear and tear on his body after the race, Harding replied with a grin: “Just a sore neck from holding my chin up high and thrusting out my chest.”
A Family of Champions
Rob Napper admits he probably shouldn’t be sailing anymore.
Not that he doesn’t still love the sport – the complete opposite, in fact – but more that his time is being severely stretched due to the rapid rise of his children’s sailing careers.
The Napper household now boasts two national champions – Rob and youngest child Ash.
Dad took out the recent Australian 16ft Australian title aboard Manly Surf n Slide, teaming with Dave O’Connor and Trent Barnabas to pull off a comprehensive victory in Brisbane.
It takes Napper’s overall count to four national crowns, four state titles and four club championships.
Not to be outdone, eight-year-old Ash partnered Sam Stodart to take out the Manly Junior national title over the holidays.
Ash’s older siblings – Lia (14) and Coby (11) – are on the Flying 11s circuit, while Coby also skippers a Manly Junior.
Mum Hollie is the glue, ensuring the kids all get to their various sailing commitments while acting as the official photographer at most regattas.
“We’re a pretty busy family and there is a lot to juggle,” Napper said.
“(Daughter) Ella (13) is the only one not bitten by the sailing bug - she’s a dancer – but the rest of us are always on the go with sailing.
“I probably shouldn’t be sailing myself given everything that is on but Trent made me an offer too good to refuse.
“He’s happy for me to sail the nationals, states and club championship races and get away at other times.”
Rob is also heavily involved in the admin side of sailing, serving on committees and helping in any way he can on race day.
He is looking forward to the day he starts competing with his own kids.
“The kids have been around sailing since they were born. They don’t know any other life,” he said.
“They already watch videos of my races and let me know if we’ve had a bad race. They’re quick to jump on me if I make a mistake and tell me what I should have done.
“Once I’m finished in the 16s I will probably jump in a 13 with Lia and then continue sailing with any of the other kids that want to sail with me.”
· Heat five of the Manly 16ft club championship was postponed last Saturday after a strong front hit the course shortly before start time.
The champions of yesteryear will take centre stage this Saturday when Manly hosts Old Buffers Day. It’s the chance for former skiff sailors to compete with modern day skippers and crew – and tell a few white lies at the bar after the race.
POINT SCORE RACE 13:02.02.2019
Winning the final race in Manly 16ft Skiff Club’s pointscore series last season proved a bittersweet experience for veteran skipper Ross Bell.
While delighted to break his duck and grab a win aboard Ross Bell Electrical, the 58-year-old knew the victory would afford him few favours with the handicappers.
And so it proved at the start of the new season, with race officials refusing to budge on RBE’s 12-minute handicap despite some good-natured lobbying from Bell.
Future requests for a handicap increase will also fall on deaf ears after RBE took out the handicap division in last Saturday’s 13thpointscore race of the season.
Off their routine 12-minute handicap, Bell and crew Mark Graham and Alastair Perry got off to a fast start and were able to hold off Altis Consulting (Phil Cooke), Bang (Julian Lydement) and Bart (Chad Beeby) to break a drought stretching back almost a year.
“I’ve been screwed ever since winning that last handicap race last year,” Bell laughed.
“We stayed on 12 minutes but the difference this time is we had no-one around to annoy us.
“We got a good gust (after rounding the first mark) and away we went.
“We didn’t fall asleep and just stayed in the moment. You’d love more days like that.”
Bell, who turned 58 the day after his win, has racked up 13 years in the Manly 16ft fleet after three decades sailing out of Drummoyne.
He has seen plenty of champions come and go but has never known Manly to be strong as it is.
He said: “The young kids are just getting so much better. It’s the best I’ve seen it.
“You used to have half a dozen that were well back in the fleet but not anymore.
“Surf n Slide (Dave O’Connor) is the one to beat but there are a lot of boats now just under them at the next level.”
Altis took out the pointscore race on scratch, narrowly seeing off Sutech (Matt Stenta), Bart and Shebang (Anthony King).
Heat five of Manly’s club championship will be held on Saturday.
SnS has the title in its keeping after winning the first three heats and placing second in heat four.
4 NATIONAL CHAMPION TEAMS
Manly 16ft Skiff Club is home to four national champions for the first time in more than a decade after the all-girl crew board Nomad made history at the Flying 11 Australian Championships.
Zoe Dransfield and Pearl Twomey combined to win four of 11 heats in heavy conditions at Port Stephens - the first all-girl crew to win the title in the event’s 48-year history.
And Dransfield claimed her only little piece of history, becoming the first female skipper since Nicky Souter in 2001 to clinch the crown.
Nomad’s win was the last leg on an impressive Manly quadrella over the Christmas-New Year period.
Victories in the 16ft, 13ft and Manly Juniors classes capped a red-letter summer for the club.
It all started with Sam Stodart and Ash Napper combining for a stunning win in the Manly Juniors in late December.
The pair won an incredible six races from seven aboard Bullet to have the title well and truly sewn up before the final heats.
The Manly club, which hosted the event, filled 10 of the top 11 placings.
Public Enemy (Liam Karunaratne & Ben Milham) finished second with Another Dark and Storm (Bella Divola & Sophie Hart) third.
Manly’s Diable Rogue (Dilan Bate & Alexandra Donnelley) took out handicap honours.
More success followed in the 13s (Bartley Constructions) and 16s (Manly Surf n Slide) on Moreton Bay over Christmas-New Year before Nomad’s historical win.
“Across both junior classes, Manly 16ft Skiff Club achieved fabulous results,” Manly Skiff Club’s junior chairperson Dave Burkett said.
“The results are a credit to our coaches, Andrew Divola and Niall Powers, and the work the kids have put in getting regatta ready.
“Not only did we take home the national trophies, but all junior sailors represented the club to the highest level, both on and off the water.”
Nomad didn’t start the Flying 11 regatta as an outright favourite, but it soon became apparent the Manly boat was the one to beat.
Wins in races one and three – punctuated by a third in heat two – gave Dransfield and Twomey the belief they could go on with the job.
Manly stablemates Fanging (Alex & Sophie Hart), Cool Runnings (Jamie & Sam Stodart) and Dynamite (Anthony Harrison & Liam Karunaratne) filled the next three places.
Burkett said: “Zoe and Pearl are our first all-girl championship winners, which is a fantastic achievement and a credit to our class and Manly 16ft Skiff Club.”
CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP HEAT 4: 19.01.2019
The good news for Manly’s 16ft skiff fleet is Harry Price will remain a gun for hire for any boat needing a fill-in skipper during the final months of the season.
The bad news is he is getting such a taste for the class he could be ready to mount his own campaign and become friend turned foe next summer.
Price stood in for regular skipper Clint Bowen aboard Fluid Building Services in Saturday’s fourth heat of the club championship, combining with good mate Angus Williams and Matt Wark to record a commanding two-minute win.
It follows his victory on Sutech earlier this year and a previous stint at the helm of Cunninghams.
It’s little wonder his mobile number is at the top of the ‘favourites’ list of most skippers when it comes to find a reliable short-term replacement.
“It’s really got the juices flowing and I’d love to do it more regularly,” Price said of his 16ft cameos.
“Whether that’s my own boat or skippering one, we will see. But I’ve really enjoyed it anytime I’ve got the call up.
“It’s great fun and really competitive and I’m happy to go wherever I’m needed.”
Manly Surf n Slide ‘owned’ the first three heats of the club championships, peeling off a hat-trick of wins to put itself in an almost unassailable position on the overall pointscore.
After a DNF (Did Not Finish) in heat one, Fluid hit back with consecutive second placings before Price’s break-through triumph.
Lancelin Ropes (Sarah Lee) led for half the race and SnS was a constant threat before Fluid pulled away on the last run.
“The winning margin didn’t really reflect how close the race was,” Price said.
“It was tight, close and tricky all the way and we just managed to pip them on the last run.”
SnS finished second to make another strong down payment on the club championship title, with Lancelin Ropes just two seconds behind in third and Sutech fourth in the 12-21 knot southerly.
Southerly (Matt Triglone) was the winner on handicap from Lancelin, Fluid and C-Side Surveyors (Jessica Iles)
POINT SCORE RACE 11: 12.01.2019
The crew aboard Manly 16ft skiff Cunninghams didn’t pick up any silverware away from the recent national championships, but they took home something almost as valuable - experience and intel for the future.
Young skipper Nick Connor (22) and crewmates Shaun Connor (20) and Jack Twomey (19) watched and learned and absorbed as much as they could from the leading skiffs so they will be better prepared for another tilt in 12 months’ time.
Cunninghams still managed a creditable top 10 finish but will be a much greater threat with another year of 16ft sailing under their belts.
“We had a good time up there (in Brisbane) but didn’t really get the results we were looking for,” Connor said of the nationals campaign.
“I guess it’s all part of the learning process for us. The fleet was on fire every day and it showed us where we need to be at.
“The top guys get the small things right and nail it on the head race after race.
“It was very competitive but inspirational to us young guys coming through.
“It’s a really good education.”
Cunninghams claimed a third and a fourth during the seven-race regatta to place ninth overall and continued that sound form into the 11thrace of Manly’s pointscore series last Saturday.
Taking full advantage of a generous handicap, Connor steered the boat to a 59-second win over Botany Access (Chris Thomas) and Lancelin Ropes (Sarah Lee).
Sutech Building Consultants (Daniel Turner) grabbed scratch honours, only just beating home Cunninghams with Manly Surf n Slide (Jim Colley) third.
“There were a few of the top guys missing but any win at Manly is a good win,” Connor said.
“We ran our own race and just tried to relax and have some fun.”
Looking to the future, Connor added: “We all did Flying 11s and Manly Juniors a few years ago so it’s good to be back together at Manly.
“We’re only into our second season of the 16s but hopefully improving all the time.
“It’s gone to plan so far and we’ve done alright, but we know where we sit and what we have to do to get where we want.”
The fourth heat of the Manly club championship will be sailed on Saturday.
Manly Surf n Slide skipper Dave O’Connor will now target the ‘triple crown’ of 16ft sailing after ticking off another goal with victory at the Australian championships.
O’Connor and crewmates Rob Napper and Trent Barnabas racked up three firsts, a second, two fourths and a seventh to hold off clubmate Koreman Marine (Felix Grech) over the seven-race series, held in light conditions on Moreton Bay.
It was a highly successful regatta for northern beaches boats, with seven of the top 10 positions filled by Manly 16ft Skiff Club entrants.
Koreman, Growthbuilt (Ryan Wilmot), Lancelin Ropes (Sarah Lee), Fluid Building (Clint Bowen), Cunninghams (Nick Connor) and River Wild (Warwick Rooklyn) were all inside the top 10, but it was O‘Connor left holding the silverware.
The first-year 16ft skipper will now look to add the Manly club championship to his list of achievements after clinching the state and Australian titles.
“It was such a competitive fleet and nothing was handed to us,” O’Connor said of the nationals.
“The pressure was on it that last race as Koreman still had a chance to beat us.
“We approached it like a match race and made sure we stayed in that top group of four or five.”
Grech needed to win the last race and hope SnS finished well down the list to grab the trophy on the final day.
Koreman threw everything into it but SnS was always one step ahead, finishing fourth with Grech a place behind.
“It was a fantastic feeling once we knew it was over and we’d won,” O’Connor said.
“Trent and Rob did an amazing job all week. They were absolutely faultless and made my job easy.”
Asked about the possibility of taking out all three titles this year, O’Connor said: “We will now put everything into winning the club championship.
“To win all three titles in the one season would be an incredible achievement.
“It’s hard to do but we’ve put ourselves in a great position to pull it off.”
· Lancelin Ropes capped a tremendous Australian Championships campaign by taking out handicap honours.
Skipper Sarah Lee guided the boat to five to 10 finishes to comfortably head the handicap pointscore.
Bang (Jim Colley) was the next best-placed Manly boat on handicap, finishing fourth.
In the 13ft division, Manly finished one-two, with Bartley Constructions (Daniel Bromelow) seeing off Bruce (Will Divola).
Veteran sailor Craig Nicholls has contested more than 30 Australian 16ft Championships but reckons he’s rarely seen a hotter favourite than stablemate Manly Surf n Slide.
In fact, he goes as far as to predict SnS could win each of the seven heats.
The Dave O’Connor-skippered skiff has dominated at club and state level all season and heads to Brisbane after Christmas as the boat to beat.
“The way they are sailing – it’s theirs to lose,” Nicholls declared.
“I’ve been around for a while and seen a lot of good boats and crew, but they are going that well they could win every race.
“They just keep winning. They are like a machine.
“I saw them out there practising on Saturday and their crew-work with Trent (Barnabas) and Rob (Napper) was so slick. They didn’t miss a beat.”
The only disclaimer Nicholls will place on his bold prediction is if conditions on Moreton Bay don’t go to script.
“Nine times out of 10 the prevailing breeze is 18-23 knots from the sou’ east,” he explained.
“But occasionally you get a swerve ball thrown your way and it can come from anywhere and become very flukey.
“If that happens then it’s a case of picking a number from the hat and all bets are off.
“But the bottom line is they’ve all got to get on top of Surf n Slide.”
A cautious O’Connor responded: “Everything has been going really smoothly and we’re confident of doing well, but you can never be 100 per cent sure in sailing.
“There will be a lot of good boats up there and we will have to sail to our best in every race.”
Sutech (Daniel Turner) , Fluid Building (Clint Bowen), Koreman (Felix Grech), Growthbuilt (Ryan Wilmot), Cunninghams (Nick Connor), Bang (Jim Colley), C-Side Surveyors (Jessica Iles), Vaikobi (Max Vos), Lancelin Ropes (Sarah Lee), River Wild (Warwick Rooklyn), Sydney Shade Sails (Felix Daverio), Big Foot Bags (James Downey), Bruce (Will Divola), Bartley Construction (Daniel Bromelow), Ebix ( Nathan Lilley) and TBC (Alex Leslie) make up the rest of the Manly contingent.
The nationals will run from December 29-January 5.
· Eight Manly sailors were among the crew of 10 to win the prestigious Phuket Kings Cup regatta in Thailand earlier this month.
Peter Bremner, Andrew Buckland, James Bury, Jay Harris, Justin Brownbill, Paul Gosling and Andrew Phillips joined forces with owner/skipper Craig Nicholls to pilot Aqaurii to wins in four of the eight races held on the Andaman Sea.
Aquarii finish equal with Hong Kong entrant Mandrake III on the IRC 1 pointscore tally.
After a series of protests, the title was decided on countback and Aquarii declared overall winner by virtue of its greater number of wins.
CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP RACE 3 (Re-sail)
Sutech 16ft skipper Daniel Turner has a simple solution to stop clubmate Dave O’Connor’s blistering start to the season aboard Manly Surf n Slide.
“Yeah, I know how to stop them. Get my brother back as skipper and the wins will soon dry up,” he joked.
“I preferred when he was steering because I could beat him.”
All jokes aside, Turner’s brother Joe was no mug.
He finished off with a win at the Australian 16ft Skiff Championships before handing the baton to O’Connor
And the first-year skipper has hardly missed a beat.
He combined with Trent Barnabas and Rob Napper to secure the state title in early December and made it a hat-trick of wins at club championship level with a comfortable victory in heat three last Saturday.
With the Australian 16ft titles on in Brisbane next month, there is every chance SnS may capture the triple crown of club, state and national trophies.
“You see boats have good seasons and you see boats have bad seasons and they’re having a really good one at the moment,” Daniel Turner said
“They are as in-form as you’re ever going to get and we’re still searching for our best.
“We have a few mishaps in the States but we learned a lot from that and hopefully it jolts us into gear for the nationals.”
Sutech’s best is not far off judging by their performance in last Saturday’s club championship heat.
They – along with another Manly heavyweight in Fluid Building (Clint Bowen) - pushed SnS in a race that started in glorious sunshine and finished in a torrential downpour.
The three boats jostled for the lead throughout the race, Sutech’s cause not helped by the extra ‘passenger’ it carried.
“We were chewing into them for the first leg but we got something caught on the lower half of our rudder,” Turner explained.
“We didn’t realise until we got back to the beach and pulled the rudder off and found a big chunk of greenery attached.
“Our race just spiralled.”
SnS took full advantage to slip past for its third club championship win in a row, with Fluid second in front of Sutech and Koreman Marine (Felix Grech).
Namotu Resort (Matt Taylor) took out handicap honours from Fluid, SnS and Sydney Shade Sails (Felix Daverio).
SnS holds a commanding lead at the top of the club championship pointscore, with Sutech second and Growthbuilt (Ryan Wilmot) and Altis Consulting (Phil Cooke) tied for third.
CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP RACE 2 (Resail): 08:11:2018
Manly 16ft skipper Dave O’Connor can’t stop winning – but it’s a victory streak that’s causing a few sleepless nights.
The Manly Surf n Slide skipper has won five of the eight races he’s entered this season, with the boat’s overall record standing at seven wins from 10.
The state title is also in keeping after a hat-trick of wins across three heats, but still O’Connor is not 100 per cent satisfied.
“You’re always happy when you’re winning but I know what sailing is like – it can turn on a dime,” he explained.
“You can be up there one minute and down here the next.
“Everything is going so well at the moment but you want it going well when it really counts, in the big one.”
O’Connor is referring to the jewel in the crown – the Australian 16ft Championships – which get underway in Queensland next month.
Surf n Slide will start as one of the favourites after its amazing start to the season.
O’Connor said: “I don’t think we’ve peaked too soon – we’re in a really good position – but you want to make sure you keep improving.
“You don’t want to take anything for granted, not against this fleet.
“One slip up can prove very costly.”
Just a week after wrapping up the state title in Gosford, SnS was back home at Manly last Saturday for heat two of the club championship.
Opting for the little rig in the fresh nor’ easter, O’Connor and crew Rob Napper and Trent Barnabas didn’t get off to the best of starts.
The old master, Fluid Building’s Clint Bowen, enjoyed the early jump to lead the fleet before capsizing at the bottom mark.
You don’t have to invite SnS twice and it seized its opportunity, taking the lead and holding the advantage all the way to the finish.
O’Connor finished just over three minutes ahead of Bowen, with Sutech (Daniel Turner) third and Shebang (Daryl Milham) fourth.
Bart (Chad Beeby) was first on handicap from Shebang, Bang (Julian Lydement) and Botany Access (Chris Thomas).
Heat three of the club championship will be raced this Saturday.
2018 NSW STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
It took Dave O’Connor a little over an hour to kill off the opposition – and the lingering jokes – on a red-letter day for Manly boats at the NSW 16ft Championships.
Returning to the helm of Manly Surf n Slide after stand-in skipper Nathan Wilmot signed off with wins in the opening two heats, O’Connor felt he needed a strong performance in heat three on Saturday to play his part in the title win.
He did that and more, steering MSnS to its third victory in as many starts to clinch the state crown with a heat to spare at Gosford.
With Sunday’s fourth and final heat cancelled due to strong winds, it left O’Connor and crew Trent Barnabas and Rob Napper with a perfect scorecard following a campaign that could not have gone any smoother.
“Nathan left us in such a good position but I still wanted to play my part and contribute,” O’Connor said.
“I was copping it from the other blokes in the fleet about not stuffing it up so there was a bit of pressure, but Rob and Trent are so good that they make my job pretty easy.
“It was a good feeling to get the win and have it all wrapped up in three races.
“And it helped squash those jokes.”
Incredibly, Manly filled the first five places in one of the club’s strongest performances in recent memory.
Cunninghams (Nick Connor), Koreman Marine (Felix Grech), Growthbuilt (Ryan Wilmot) and River Wild (Warwick Rooklyn) took out the minor places and ensured O’Connor didn’t have everything his own way in race three.
SnS got off to a great start but hit a big wind shift that put it right back in the pack.
O’Connor rounded the top mark for the first time in ninth, but kept his cool to chip away at the fleet.
By the second beat MSnS was in front and held the advantage to the finish line, crossing 13 seconds ahead of Koreman.
While Napper and Barnabas are no strangers to success, it was O’Connor’s first piece of 16ft silverware in his debut season as skipper.
He said: “It was a bit nerve-wracking when we went from a solid start to back in the fleet but we kept our cool and got back in the race.
“It’s massive thanks for Nathan to set us up and I’m so lucky to jump on the boat with these guys.”
· There was double celebration in the Barnabas household after brothers Zac and Jake joined dad on the podium following their win in the 13ft division.
Sailing aboard The Kitchen Maker, the brothers finished with a win and two seconds to hold off Manly stablemate Bruce (Will Divola).
Manly filled the next three places, with Bartley Construction (Daniel Bromelow), AWOL (Harry Parker) and Bigfoot Bag & Covers (James Downey) pushing the leaders all the way.
2018 NSW STATES HEATS 1 & 2
How do you replace an Olympic gold medallist who has just steered your boat into an almost unbeatable position at the state championships?
That’s the challenge for Manly Surf n Slide skipper Dave O’Connor as he prepares to take over from Nathan Wilmot for the finals two heats of the NSW 16ft Championships next month.
Wilmot, who won gold at the Beijing Olympics in the 470 class, combined with Rob Napper and Trent Barnabas to guide Surf n Slide to back-to-back victories at Port Hunter last weekend.
It’s left the Manly skiff in an almost impregnable position for O’Connor’s return for the final two heats at Gosford on December 1-2.
“It’s a pretty handy position to have an Olympic gold medallist as the stand-in and the pressure’s now on Dave,” Barnabas said with a laugh.
“To win one race was great but to get the double was obviously very pleasing.”
Surf n Slide’s win in the opening heat was relatively incident free, Wilmot pulling away for a comfortable 1min:39sec win over fellow Manly boat Koreman Marine (Felix Grech) and defending champion Brydens Lawyers (Lee Knapton) from St George.
But the following day’s second heat was a different race altogether.
Surf n Slide was forced into several penalty turns on the first work and went around the top mark in 15thplace.
They kept chipping away and pulling boats back one by one before taking on race leader Cunninghams (Nick Connor) at the last mark.
Wilmot just snuck home by 21 seconds to cap off a remarkable weekend.
“After the start we got I probably would have been happy with a top five finish,” Barnabas admitted.
“To get a win from there was very good.”
Surf n Slide can wrap up the title with a heat to spare if it secures a top three placing in heat three on December 1.
But Barnabas has warned against looking too far ahead.
“We’ve just got to treat it as nothing special, just another race,” Barnabas said.
“If we try to put pressure on ourselves by working out what we need to do, then it probably won’t happen for us.
“We’ll just go there and sail the race and take it from there.”
POINT SCORE RACE 9: 10:11:2018
Koreman Marine skipper Felix Grech feels like sticking his fingers in his ears whenever talk turns to the location for the opening heats of the NSW 16ft Skiff Championships.
The first two races will be held on Port Hunter this weekend and Grech is familiar with the horror stories surrounding the tricky Newcastle track.
Shipping channels and a shifting tide make this course one of skiff sailing’s greatest challenges, especially for a skipper yet to taste it.
“I’ve never sailed there before but I keep hearing it’s an interesting place to race,” Grech said.
“I am told there is not room for error and you’ve got keep mistakes to a minimum.
“But I try not to buy into it too much when they talk about the conditions there because it could play on your mind a bit.
“I’m happy to sail at different places and mix it up a bit. We are lucky to sail in open water at Manly most weeks but it’s good to challenge yourself in other places.
“The fleet is that competitive that I still think the best boats will up there no matter what the conditions are.”
Koreman is considered one of the main contenders for the state title and again showed its class with a tight win in Manly’s ninth pointscore race of the season last Saturday.
Rounding the top mark for the first time in second place behind Growthbuilt (Ryan Wilmot), Grech and crew – Paul Darmanin and stand-in sheethand Michael Childs - gradually pulled away for a 42-second win in the 8-13 knot sou’ easter.
Growthbuilt, Cunninghams (Nick Connor) and Southerly (Matt Triglone) filled the minor places.
Shebang (Anthony King) was first on handicap from C-Side Surveyors (Jessica Iles) and Growthbuilt.
“It was ideal big rig conditions for us and we got into a nice rhythm from the start,” Grech said.
“Our aim is to be in that top five around the top mark and just chip away from there and we were able to do that.
“The boat is going really quick and we’re looking forward to the weekend.
“It’s nice to be mentioned among the boats at the pointy end of the fleet but we know it’s going to be really hard sailing.”
CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP RACE 2: 03:11:2018
Lancelin Ropes skipper Sarah Lee has heard all the stories about the potentially treacherous conditions awaiting the fleet in this year’s NSW 16ft Skiff Championships.
Her clubmate – veteran skiff sailor Craig Nicholls - likens the courses at Gosford and Newcastle to a game of ‘snakes and ladders’ – one false move and you can quickly disappear to the back of the fleet.
But Lee is not fazed ahead of heats one and two, to be sailed at Port Hunter on November 17-18.
The title will be decided a fortnight later when the finals two heats are staged at Gosford on December 1-2
“We’re expecting flat water and shifty conditions at both Port Hunter and Gosford and usually this is ideal for us,” Lee explained.
“But lately we’ve been getting some great results in the heavier breeze.
“We have really broadened what we consider our ideal conditions and have been consistent across various wind ranges this season.
“We’ve always been known as light wind specialists but not anymore.
“We’ve been on the podium most weeks at Manly so we believe a top five finish at the States is achievable.”
Nicholls doesn’t disagree.
A veteran of over 30 NSW Championship campaigns, the man known to all as “Ed” rates Lancelin Ropes highly.
He said: “Of the Manly boats, they are certainly going to be right up there.
“I expect Manly Surf n Slide (Dave O’Connor), Sutech (Daniel Turner) and Koreman (Felix Grech) to lead the charge and Sarah can’t be discounted.
“They are just getting better and better with each race.”
But the experienced Nicholls reckons the two courses will have a big say in the outcome.
“Conditions at Gosford are tricky, to put it politely and sailing in Newcastle harbour with the tide involved is a test in itself,” he said.
“It’s absolute snakes and ladders out there and any one of ten boats can win it.”
The Manly fleet was robbed of a State Championship tune-up when the wind failed to blow for last Saturday’s second heat of the club championship.
The race will be rescheduled on a date to be decided.
The ninth pointscore race of the season will be held this Saturday.
POINT SCORE RACE 7: 27:10:2018
Winning was a bonus – not the top priority – for Manly Surf n Slide skipper Dave O’Connor as he continued his 16ft ‘apprenticeship’ in Saturday’s seventh pointscore race of the season.
O’Connor has a rich history in the 49er and 18ft classes but is fulltime at the helm of a 16ft for the first time, and still finding his way.
He admits there have been mistakes along the way but it’s all been part of the learning process as Surf n Slide looks towards the big state and national regattas.
“I just wanted us to go out there and put the whole package together and keep mistakes to a minimum,” O’Connor said after Saturday’s emphatic win.
“There is no such thing as sailing the perfect race but I felt we came pretty close.
“My job is being made easy by having two blokes like Trent (Barnabas) and Rob (Napper) in the boat…just look at how many titles those blokes have won between them.”
Surf n Slide’s easy win wasn’t evident from the start as they joined a clustered pack rounding the top mark for the first time.
They rounded fifth, with O’Connor positioning the boat for a run through conditions made tricky due to a run out tide.
By the bottom mark Surf n Slide had caught Sutech and Koreman Marine Composites (Felix Grech) to move into third.
On the second beat Surf n Slide went to the next level, blowing away their rivals to pull clear for a comfortable win.
O’Connor finished almost three minutes ahead of second-placed Sutech (Harry Price), with Fluid (Clint Bowen) and Lancelin Ropes (Sarah Lee) third and fourth respectively.
The winning skipper said: “We had a training session during the week because I’ve got to figure this out…I don’t want to be dead wood out there.
“I think that definitely helped and our tactics were pretty sound.
“It’s been a great start to the season and the challege for me is to remain consistent.”
The evergreen Typhoon (Craig Nicholls) took out handicap honours from Surf n Slide, Fluid and Koreman Marine Composites.
The second heat of Manly’s club championship will be sailed on Saturday.
POINT SCORE RACE 6: 20:10:2018
Sutech skipper Daniel Turner knew his injured back needed some rest but was beginning to question the wisdom of standing down as his replacements took centre stage.
Stand-in skippers Harry Price and Will Howard did such a great job steering that Turner had to jokingly beg for his old job back.
“I wondered if I’d shot myself in the foot. They’re a hard act to follow,” Turner said with a laugh after a successful return in Manly’s sixth pointscore race of the season on Saturday.
“I thought I better get back out there sooner rather than later.”
Turner and crewmates Paul Mackenzie and Matt Stenta want to shoot the lights out this season, openly declaring they are targeting the triple crown of club, state and national trophies.
“We have kicked off with a fair bit of momentum and are in a lot better position than in previous seasons,” the skipper said.
“After sailing together for so long you start to think what else is there to learn, but we’ve been developing new things, increasing communications, refining things on the boat.
“We have had no issues or breakages. Things could not have gone much better.
“I’ve got a really good feeling based on what we’ve learnt in just a few races.
“Now it’s time to get out of comfort zone and bump up our goals and start to win some trophies.”
Sutech started Saturday’s race among the lead pack, rounding the top mark third in the freshening nor easter.
Lancelin Ropes (Sarah Lee) sailed a great race to keep pursuers at bay for a lap and a half before Turner put the foot down.
As the breeze began to hit what Turner calls ‘the Sutech range’, he powered to the lead and went on to win by 87 seconds.
A fast-finishing Fluid (Clint Bowen) crossed second, just in front of Lancelin Ropes and Growthbuilt (Ryan Wilmot).
Cunninghams (Nick Connor) was winner on handicap from Growthbuilt, Lancelin Ropes and Typhoon (Craig Nicholls),
The fleet just beat Saturday’s fierce electrical storm home.
Attention will now turn to heat seven of the pointscore series.
POINT SCORE RACE 5: 13:10:2018
Switching skippers three times in as many races would be a challenge for most boats, but Sutech Building Consultants is proof change is not always a bad thing.
Harry Price became the third skipper to steer Sutech in a month, filling in for regular boss Daniel Turner and piloting the boat to victory in Manly 16ft Skiff Club‘s fifth pointscore race on Saturday.
Price follows on from Will Howard, who proved a reliable deputy for Turner in the previous week’s club championship heat.
“ ‘Ruffy’ (Turner) tweaked his back and I got a call from (crew member) Matt Stenta asking if I’d like to come sailing,” Price explained.
“It was a good chance to get back in a (16ft) skiff – it’s been a little while – so thanks to Ruffy for letting me have a go.
“I’ve only sailed 16s five times but it’s great fun. I jumped at the chance.”
Price joined 23 other boats at the start line and was bogged down early as the fickle easterly refused to co-operate.
But as the wind kicked in – quickly gusting from five to 22 knots – and rain squalls hit the harbour, race intensity increased dramatically.
Sutech and Manly Surf n Slide (Dave O’Connor) made the most of the fresher conditions, pulling away from the fleet and indulging in a nip and tuck battle for the entire journey.
Price grabbed the lead at the halfway mark, only for O’Connor to snatch back the front running at the final top mark.
O’Connor looked on target to make it two wins in as many weeks until a late capsize allowed Sutech to regain the lead and hold on for a hard-fought 64-second win.
Lancelin Ropes (Sarah Lee) was almost five minutes behind in third, with Altis Consulting (Phil Cooke) fourth.
Eleven boats did not finish, testament to just how tough the going got as the race developed.
“It looked pretty average when we first got out there but then it (the wind) cranked through,” Price said.
“It was a really good race, with the conditions throwing up a bit of everything.
“The lead was back and forth but when they capsized in front of us, we just played it safe for the rest of the track.
“Those guys (crew members Stenta and Paul Mackenzie) know what they’re doing and kept us out of trouble.”
Price, who spends the majority of time on the world match racing tour after sailing 49ers and 29ers, will remain on call should Sutech require his services throughout the year.
Sutech also took out handicap honours, with Altis, C-Side Surveyors (Jessica Iles) and Surf n Slide filling the minor places.
The season’s sixth pointscore race will be held on Saturday.
CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP RACE 1: 06:10:2018
Seven boats failed to finish, one was left badly damaged after a nasty collision with a yacht and the winner fought off major fatigue in a dramatic start to Manly 16ft Skiff club’s 2018/19 championship.
With a big southerly swell running and winds gusting around the 25-knot mark, there was talk of cancelling the race.
But Manly Surf n Slide (David O’Connor) was happy to tackle the tough conditions.
With a crew ready-made for such a challenging course, O’Connor expertly navigated his way around the track while avoiding disaster to take an early lead in the seven-race series.
Surf n Slide’s final winning margin of 7min:6secs illustrated just how dominate they were on a day where simply staying upright was a challenge.
Altis Consulting (Phil Cooke) was a distant second with Sutech Building Consultants (Will Howard) third and Koreman Marine Composites (Felix Grech) fourth.
“Combine the heavy swell with that breeze and it got pretty hectic out there,” O’Connor said.
“The conditions were right on the limit but having two capable blokes in Trent (Barnabas) and Ricky (Bridge) on my boat certainly made life easier.
“As the race got on we got more and more fatigued but we were pretty steady most of the way.
“Once we got out in front we were fairly comfortable. It was just a matter of staying out of trouble and staying upright.
“We’re really happy with that start - now it’s about being consistent from here.”
Nineteen boats faced the starter’s gun but only 12 made it across the finish line as the wind and swell took a heavy toll on the fleet.
Fluid Building (Henry Makin) needed assistance returning to the beach after coming off second best with a yacht.
The boat suffered extensive damage to its rigging but thankfully skipper and crew were all okay.
Surf n Slide clinched the double, taking out handicap honours from Altis and Growthbuilt (Ryan Wilmot).
Race five in the annual pointscore series will be sailed on Saturday.
Video by Tilly Lock https://www.facebook.com/tillylockmedia/
POINT SCORE RACE 3: 22:09:2018
Dave O’Connor didn’t have to think twice when offered the chance to skipper national 16ft champion Manly Surf n Slide this season – but he understands he may be on a hiding to nothing.
The Manly skiff swept all before it in last year’s nationals, winning two heats and finishing top three in four other races to claim the crown.
It was the perfect swansong for Joe Turner to go out as skipper, leaving O’Connor in the hot seat as Manly Surf n Slide look to go back-to-back.
Fortunately, experienced crew members Trent Barnabas and Rob Napper are going around again but O’Connor recognises expectations are high.
“I’ve got big shoes to fill, no doubt about it,” he said.
“You want to be part of a great set-up, but you also put yourself under pressure.
“I know expectations will be high but I’ve got a great gig. It’s a great opportunity and I love sailing with these blokes.
“We’re going to have a fun time and hopefully have a bit of success.”
Manly Surf n Slide gave an indication of the threat they will present this summer when they held off Fluid Building Services (Kirk Mitchell) to record a thrilling 22-second win in Manly’s third pointscore race of the season last Saturday.
Altis Consulting (Phil Cooke) was in the mix early and Sutech (Daniel Turner) came late, but this was a two boat race for most of the journey.
There was never more than 30 seconds separating Manly Surf n Slide and Fluid, with O’Connor and crew really earning their keep.
O’Connor said: “It really kept us on point…making sure we didn’t make too many mistakes.
“It was a tight tacking duel all the way to the finish line and it wasn’t until the last tack.
“I knew they’d thrown everything at us and that’s what I love about racing at Manly.
“The fleet is so competitive that you’ve got to really earn your wins.
“Anytime you can win a race is an achievement. If you’re at the top of this fleet then you’re in a high calibre.”
Fluid had to be content with second place from Sutech and Altis.
There was some consolation for Mitchell, who won on handicap ahead of Botany Access (Chris Thomas) and Manly Surf n Slide.
Video by Alex Chittenden
POINT SCORE RACE 2: 15:09:2018
Sutech Building’s Matt Stenta doesn’t bother holding back when asked his team’s ambitions for the 2018/19 16ft skiff season.
“We want all three titles – club, state and nationals,” he declared.
“There is no reason why we can’t do it.
“We had a good season last year and we’re hoping to build on that.”
Sutech finished third in last year’s nationals on the back of four top three finishes and will again be one of the favourites when the fleet face the starter’s gun in January.
Analysing the season ahead, skipper Daniel Turner and crew – Stenta and Paul Mackenzie - came to the conclusion more work was needed on tactics rather than practical work.
“We’ve spent plenty of time at the Stenta ‘bar’ working out how we are going to approach races and how we’re going to go about winning them,” Stenta said.
“We’ve got everything we need on the boat thanks to sponsor Steve Bowen, and Paul and ‘Ruffy’ (Turner) both know what they’re doing, so there are no excuses.”
Sutech’s experience in fresh conditions came to the fore last Saturday when they avoided carnage all around them to claim Manly’s second pointscore race of the season.
After an early tussle with Growthbuilt, Turner piloted his boat to the lead at the bottom of the third lap and cleared out from the rest of the fleet.
As a number of boats came to grief in the blustery 30-35 knot nor’ wester, Sutech crossed the line 39 seconds ahead of the super consistent Lancelin Ropes (Sarah Lee) and Koreman Marine Composites (Felix Grech).
Asked what the secret was to keeping a boat upright when conditions are wild, Stenta said: “Technique and composure.
“Those guys (Turner and Mackenzie) know what they’re doing and we just had to keep the mast pointed to the air.
“But it’s the hairiest (ride) I’ve been on a 16ft skiff. We did well to keep it together and not tip over.”
C-Side Surveyors (Jessica Iles) claimed handicap honours from Lancelin and Sutech.
Manly will host the season’s third point scorerace on Saturday.
POINT SCORE RACE 1: 08:09:2018
Skipper Felix Grech and his crew aboard Koreman Marine have taken a ‘less is more’ approach as they look to nail victory at this year’s national 16ft championships.
Koreman finished a promising 10th at the 2017/18 nationals and are desperate for a podium finish 12 months later.
Their chance will come in January, but for now Grech and his team have actually eased off training in preparation for the long season ahead.
The skipper and sheethand Tom Potter took seven months off from sailing, while for’and Paul Darmanin spent the winter in Europe sailing in different classes.
But the break from sailing – and each other – seems to have worked wonders, judging from Koreman’s impressive win in Manly’s first pointscore race of the season last Saturday.
After a conservative start in the tricky 6-12 knot southerly, Koreman pulled away to record a 36-second win from second-placed Southerly (Daryl Milham) and the in-form Lancelin Ropes (Sarah Lee).
“The conditions made for good tactical racing and our game plan was always to stay in a low-risk position and keep chipping away through the race,” Grech explained.
“We sat around third for most of the race and held out until the last upwind run to make a move.
“After not sailing together for seven months, we were happy to find ourselves at home back on the skiff.”
Grech is now on the search for extra sponsorship in a bid to upgrade his boat and staying competitive.
“We have been pushing for a nationals win - that’s what keeps us motivated to keep going,” Grech said.
“We took a lot of confidence from last year’s result and want to continue that progress.
“So if there’s a sponsor out there who wants to get behind a young team with big goals, give us a call.”
Southerly took out Saturday’s handicap honours from Bang (Julian Lydement) and Lancelin Ropes.
Manly’s second pointscore race of the season will be held on Saturday.
NON POINT SCORE: 01:09:2018
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
It’s the mantra the crew aboard Lancelin Ropes will follow throughout the 2018/19 16ft skiff season as they attempt to take up residence into the top 10 of the major regattas.
While most boats are yet to hit the water, Lancelin skipper Sarah Lee and crew Chris Goluzd and James Slee have been planning and plotting all winter.
They enjoyed a warm-up sail at the Hunters Hill sprint series in late August and backed that up with victory in Manly’s first race of the season last Saturday.
With Belmont’s Adam Gibson filling in for regular sheethand Slee, Lancelin led from start to finish to claim victory in a flukey 5-15 knot westerly.
Lee finished 42 seconds ahead of second-placed Southerly (Matt Triglone), with Cunninghams (Nick Connor) third.
“We got off the line well but the wind was shifting and we worked hard to stay in the pressure,” Lee said.
“We had some hairy moments when the breeze came in and some fun downwinds.
“It was a great first race back for us. We have been working hard and will continue to work hard to get where we want to be.
“We want to get out there and sail as much as possible.”
Lancelin, formerly known as Lee Sails, finished eighth in the NSW championships last season and backed that up with a creditable 13 th at the nationals.
After some major tinkering with her boat, which includes a re-jigged rope set-up and new upwind sails, Lee is confident of making further progress this summer.
“We are aiming for a top ten finish at states and nationals,” she declared.
“We will be doing as many regattas as we can and working hard to achieve that goal.
“The more time on the water, the better we will get.”
Manly will boast a 25-strong fleet this season, with many crews sitting out Saturday’s first race as they fine-tune their boats.
The majority of the fleet will be in action this Saturday for the first pointscore race of the season, which will be followed by a club bbq to officially launch the 2018/19 season.
Kids Swap Day: 24.03.2018
Manly 16ft Skiff Club commodore Grant Windsham doesn’t hesitate when asked the highlights of the 2017/18 season.
“There are two clear stand-outs,” he said.
“Manly’s win at the nationals and our Kids Swap Day – it’s hard to split the two.”
Kids Swap Day is the last event on the skiff club calendar, and one of the most popular.
The club’s next generation of skiff sailors are invited aboard the 16 and 13-footers to get a feel for the bigger boats without the pressure of race conditions.
Dozens took the opportunity to sail with some of the club’s senior sailors last Saturday.
“It’s great to be able to give them a taste of the skiffs under controlled conditions,” Windsham said.
“They not only get a feel for a 13’ or 16’ but also get the chance to learn from some of the best.
“It’s a great day for all involved, especially the kids.”
Point Score 15: 17:03:2018
‘Old and slow and the young blokes were smashing us’
Ross Bell has never been so happy to be ignored in his life.
The long-time Manly 16ft Skiff Club sailor wrote to the race committee asking for a revision to his handicap time after going two years without a win.
He dropped the letter off at the club and headed out to sail in last Saturday’s pointscore race, unsure whether his request would be met.
He had his answer a few hours later after piloting Ross Bell Electric to a handicap win in a light nor easter.
He will now get a handicap adjustment – just not the one he was after.
“No-one was in the office when I dropped the letter off so I’m not even sure anyone read it,” Bell said.
“I wrote that we were old and slow and the young blokes were smashing us and we needed our handicap revised.
“They can rip that letter up and put it in the bin now. We won’t be getting any favours now.”
At 57, the popular Bell is in the veteran class at Manly.
His love for the sport keeps him coming back year after year despite the victories drying up.
“Every week when I come home my wife asks, ‘how did you go?’ and I say, ‘we had our moments’,” he said.
“And that’s what they are – moments.
“We got a seventh in the first heat of the nationals and then came 58thin the next heat.
“That pretty much sums it up. It’s a very tough fleet at Manly and it’s so hard to win a race, which is good.”
Bell thought his win drought was going to continue after trailing Namotu (Matthew Taylor) for much of last Saturday’s race despite enjoying a healthy handicap.
What he didn’t know was Namotu had gone to the wrong bottom mark on a couple of occasions.
“We got a got a good jump at the start but I was wondering why they were getting further ahead of me at Balmoral,” Bell said.
“It all made sense when I heard they had gone around the wrong mark.”
Lee Sails (Sarah Lee) was second behind Ross Bell Electrical, with The Yellow Boat (Michael Bochner) third.
Lee Sails finished as scratch winner ahead of Bart (Chad Beeby) and Manly Surf n Slide (Alex Hart).
Point Score: 07.03.2018
As job auditions go, young Manly sailor George Richardson could not have done much more during Manly 16ft Skiff Club’s pointscore race on Saturday.
Feeling in as sheethand aboard Lazy White Bar, the 18-year-old fitted in seamlessly to combine with crewmates skipper Brad and Simon Leicester for a comfortable handicap win.
It was the boat’s first victory in a year and the perfect time for Richardson to shine.
Lazy White Bar may have a fulltime position available next season – and applications are open.
“Our usual bow couldn’t be there on Saturday and we got word George was keen so we offered him a place,” skipper Brad Leicester explained.
“He went really well and I’ve sent him an offer for next season, so we’ll see what happens.
“We’ve been getting better each season but it’s been hard having different crews every year.
“The other crews have been together a long time and each year we start fresh and have to get to know each other.
“Once we get a locked-in crew then I think we’ll get the results we’re after. Fingers crossed George is up for it.”
The slick teamwork was evident from the get-go as Lazy White Bar took advantage of a generous handicap to skip clear of the fleet in the 12-16 knot breeze.
Leicester keep one eye over his shoulder after every work but was never really threatened.
Bang (Julian Lydement) was second on handicap from Holmes Marine (Sam Holmes).
Fluid Building (Clint Bowen) took out the scratch race, finishing ahead of Lee Sails (Sarah Lee) and Growthbuilt (Ryan Wilmot).
Resail-Club Championship Race 3: 24.02.2018
“There’s three big titles you aim for at the start of the season – National, State and Club,”
The family feud over who is the premier boat in the Manly fleet will go down to the final race after Surf n Slide scored an invaluable victory in the penultimate heat of the club championship.
Sutech (Daniel Turner) headed into Saturday’s race just ahead of Surf n Slide but lost plenty of ground after fading away to eighth.
SnS now enjoys a two-point advantage over Sutech on the overall pointscore.
It means the Turner boys – Daniel and regular SnS Slide skipper Joe – will thrash it out for the club championship in the final race on March 10.
If SnS win – or finish within a place of Sutech – they will be crowned champions for 2017/18.
Joe Turned missed Saturday’s race due to prior commitments, but stand-in skipper James Dorron hardly missed a beat in piloting the skiff to a 27-second victory.
After a series of seconds and thirds through the championships, it was a timely win.
“We’ve been very consistent but a bit of bad luck here and there or some poor race management has cost us wins,” for’and Rob Napper said.
“In the context of the series were never that worried about getting wins as we just wanted to be consistent, but it was still nice to get this one.”
SnS did not have it all their own way, with a flukey breeze ensuring there were multiple lead changes.
It was not until halfway up the last work that Dorron got the best of another wind gust and hit the front, covering his rivals all the way to the finish line.
It now has SnS in the box seat to complete the national and club championship double.
“There’s three big titles you aim for at the start of the season – national, state and club,” Napper said.
“The nationals are a step up but the state and club is held in the same regard by us.
“(Sheethand) Trent (Barnabas), Joe and I have never won one together so it would be a great way to finish off the season.”
In a glimpse into the future at Manly, the young crew aboard Cunninghams (Harry Price) pushed SnS all the way to finish second on Saturday.
Vaikobi (Peter Warner) was third with Holmes Marine (Sam Holmes) taking out handicap honours.
Club Championship Race 6
Daniel Turner is already dreaming about the dinner table conversation he will be having with his brother next Christmas.
In his dream, the Sutech skipper is lauding it over older sibling Joe after sealing the Manly 16ft Skiff Club championship in the final heat of competition.
The dream took a step close to becoming reality last Saturday after Daniel piloted Sutech to a narrow win over Joe’s Manly Surf n Slide in heat six, with Gill (Damon Zemanek) third.
The 24-second victory gives Sutech a narrow two-point lead over Surf n Slide on the overall pointscore, with two heats remaining.
And isn’t Daniel relishing the opportunity to rub it in.
Surf n Slide is the reigning national champion, but Joe was unable to complete the full regatta after suffering a broken hand in the fourth heat.
It was left to stand-in skipper Ben Bianco to sail the last three heats and guide SNS to victory.
“So who’s he going to get to finish off the job this time?” Daniel asked.
“He doesn’t have Benny Bianco to come in to polish things off in the club championship.
“Ányway, that’s their problem. We will just worry about our backyard.”
The Sutech camp intends maintaining radio silence for the next few weeks, fearing Joe will attempt to pick their brains for information and tactics.
Daniel said: “We won’t be saying too much. Our plan is not to change the plan…just keep doing what we’ve been doing.
“We’ve got the boat speed and the teamwork and we’ve got to race like there’s no-one else out there but us.
“Saturday’s win gives us a bit of breathing space but we’re identically paced with them, so it will come down to who makes the least number of mistakes in the last two heats.”
Joe is the defending club champion, while Daniel’s one and only club championship win was almost a decade ago.
The postponed third heat of the club championship will be sailed this Saturday.
Old Buffers Day
A day where the club invites sailing royalty to turn back the clock.
Rod Childs knew his crew for Manly 16ft Skiff Club’s Old Buffers’ Day was playing for keeps from the moment he awoke last Saturday morning.
“I got up to take the dog for a walk and the boys were already there to get the boat and start rigging up to get the big sails on for my heavy weight,” he said.
“I could see that they were keen to do well.”
Rod’s son Michael and crewmate Evan Darmanin were going to leave nothing to chance on a day where the club invites sailing royalty to turn back the clock and compete with the current 16ft fleet.
Childs snr has been a member at Manly for more than 50 years and was a regular in the 16s fleet back in his younger days.
And the 68-year-old showed age had not wearied him by guiding CHPS to a come-from-behind win in the light and variable conditions.
CHPS overcame a sluggish start – they were at the back-end of the fleet at the first windward mark – to pick up an easterly breeze shift and work their way through the pack.
“I only get one ride per year these days and the body has trouble coping. It is feeling it at the moment,” Rod said the day after his win.
“There is plenty of wear and tear and it is mentally and physically challenging, but very enjoyable.
“I reckon over the last five or six years it’s (Buffers’ Day) has risen to a new level.
“The club has grown it and supported it and made it a tremendous day for young and old. They really look after us.
“It’s a great day to catch up with old mates and tell a few lies.”
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Childs men as they travelled the course.
“We had the usual father-son arguments,” Rod laughed.
“There was plenty of talk between us but it was enjoyable, probably more for me than him.
”It was great that we were able to pick up the handicap win.”
Lazy White Bar (John Doyle) and Ross Bell Electrical (Gary Paton) filled the minor places behind CHPS.
Cunninghams (John Dransfield) took out the scratch race, with Fluid Building (Phil Harmer) second and Gill (Bruce Savage) third.
Attention now turns to the sixth heat of the Manly club championship, to be sailed on Saturday afternoon.