CHASING A SLICE OF HISTORY
One skipper is planning a party while another wants to gate crash it.
The fight for the prestigious Manly 16ft club championship gets underway on Saturday with the opening two heats of the 2023/24 campaign. Moonen Yachts (Daniel Turner) is shooting for five straight titles as it looks to join the ranks of skiff racing’s immortals.
Only three boats – Trevor Barnabas’s five-in-a-row on Chesty Bond-2UE/Baracuda-2UE (1991-95), Michael Polkinghorne’s six-on-the-trot aboard Bluefin (1967-72) and the Clint Bowen-skippered Fluid Building Services’ seven consecutive crowns from 2002-09 – have won more consecutive crowns in the club’s 100-year history.
This year’s series will be decided over eight heats throughout the season.
“I have some great respect for all of those names and just to be on the board with them is an honour,” Turner said. “We’ve made no secret we are chasing what those guys achieved. “They are among the all-time greats of 16s racing and our aim is to one day join them. “That might put a target on our chests but that’s okay. Everyone wants to knock off the title holders but we’ll be up for the challenge.”
Leading that challenge will be national champion Imagine Signage, skippered by Nathan Wilmot. Wilmot, aboard Typhoon, finished just one point behind Turner in last year’s club championship. He doesn’t intend settling for second place this time around.
“Ruffy (Turner) and his guys did really well last year but we’re coming for them,” Wilmot said. “We were disappointed to miss out last year and would love to get our name on the trophy. “It’s one of our major goals this season.”
Of course, Imagine Signage and Moonen won’t have it all to themselves. A host of boats will be right on their tail.
Former State champions Red Pumps (Tyler Dransfield), Sail Racing (Felix Grech), Red Pumps Red (Bruce Savage), Cunninghams (Nick Connor), IMEI (Hugh Stodart) and Modern Concept Construction (Gerard Smith) are all expected to mount serious challenges.
WHERE TO WATCH MANLY16s TV
The next best thing to being out on the water is watching all the action unfold on Sail Media’s livestream. Owner/operator James Bury and his camera crew get you as close to the action as possible without disrupting the flow of a race.
In fact, any closer and you’d be out on the trapeze in your wetsuit. Bury has also assembled a red-hot team of commentators to talk viewers through each heat, explaining exactly what is unfolding.
“Whether it’s shooting 16s or 18s, we pride ourselves on being in the right place at the right time to get the best shots without compromising the flow of a race,” he said.
“We often get asked if we get in any trouble for being right in their faces but the sailors know we know our stuff and stay out of their way.
“With the commentary team, we use ex-skiff sailors to take the viewer inside a race. They’ve all been out there and know what skippers and crew are thinking. “We often predict things before they happen.”
The 16s coverage at Manly has been well received, with thousands tuning in to watch the live action on Sydney Harbour.
Bury said: “We get viewers from as far away as the UK watching the races. The feedback has been very positive.” Will Morrison, part of Manly’s first national 16ft champion (Matana) in 1976, says the live coverage has a two-fold benefit for old buffers like himself. “I live up at Lake Cathie and would come down to Manly when I got a little homesick but I can watch these races on my tablet without leaving my lounge-room,” he said.
“The Sail Media coverage is out of this world and makes you still feel part of it all even though you’re hundreds of kilometres away. “The commentators know the technical side of skiff sailing but they’re also really good at explaining it in layman’s terms. “It’s incredible to think how far we’ve come and I only wish this sort of coverage was around in my day.”
Of course, arguably the best vantage point to catch Sail Media’s coverage is with cold drink in hand at the skiff club. Club championship races are beamed into the skiffies and displayed on the screens, giving you a front row seat without having to leave your seat.
Heats are later replayed for the sailors to pore over during the post-race debrief.
Saturday’s racing gets underway from 2.30pm. Coverage start 2.05pm Watch here https://www.youtube.com/@manly16stv/streams