It all starts in the Juniors!

 In 13ft Skiff News, 16ft Skiff News, Flying 11 News, Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club, Manly Juniors News, Uncategorised

National Champion, Olympian, International Sailor, or Weekend Warrior – It all starts in the Juniors

Daniel Turner thinks he may have been 13, possibly 14, when he had what you could call a sailing epiphany.  “It was a juniors’ swap day when you get to go out on a 16ft skiff and I took ‘Ed’ Nicholls’ boat (Typhoon) and crew out,” he recalled. “I just remember going downwind in a smoking nor’ easter thinking ‘wow, for certain I’m going to sail one of these one day’. “I was completely sold from that day on.”

Turner is one of the poster boys of Manly 16ft Skiff Club’s junior program – a system that has pumped out Olympic, national and state champions across a variety of classes over many decades. The stepping stones at Manly start with the Manly Juniors and continue into the Flying 11s, 13ft and then the highly competitive 16s fleet. By the time a sailor reaches the 16s, he/she has been through a thorough education and is truly ready and prepared to tackle the larger sailing world.

Turner said: “On and off the water, what the club delivered was just the best years of my life. “The sailing was super successful but we also made great friends…friendships you’ll never lose. “The combination of having intense club racing and a good club supporting you – and a social environment that’s just awesome to be around – is the holistic value for me.” Turner is quick to point out the assistance he had from the likes of Nicholls, legendary coach Robert “Baz” Atkins, current commodore Matt Triglone and many others not only helped him stay in the sport but propelled him to national 16s honours.

It was a similar experience for Lisa Darmanin, who signed up as a nine-year-old and returned to the 16s fleet as an Olympic silver medallist many years later. “Just take a look at how many people have stayed involved with the club over such a long period,” she pointed out. “That tells you a lot about a club’s culture. “I had so much help from so many great people who just wanted to see you progress through the different stages. “You would do MJs (Manly Junior) in the morning and then crew for Flying 11s in the afternoon and get to race with and against people of all skills. “Then you’d see them go to the 13s and 16s and you’d think ‘I can do that’. There was just so much enthusiasm and support to feed off. “Everyone is there for each other.”

Triglone backs that assertion. “At the start it is all fear and nerves but before you know it you are balanced and competing even at the youngest age,” he said. “All of the boats are crewed boats so at a young age the kids learn how to trust, even nurture, each other and work as a team. “It is about feeling comfortable and enjoying it. You grow so quickly and develop the skills naturally and before you know it your skill set deepens. “Then you start to win races and learn how to compete. “Manly is an unabashed competitive sailing club. We nurture the kids at all levels, but the end game is to go racing.” And don’t expect an easy ride, no matter your reputation.

“I always say 16s is something Olympians like to do on their weekends because it’s so much fun, but it’s still really competitive and hard to win,” Darmanin said. “You don’t get handed anything.”

Turner added: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re in an MJ or Flying 11 or 13 or 16, if you want to win,  you’re going to have to pull your finger out. “You’ve got to not only run your boat well but be really smart about sailing against the people that you’re sailing against. “You’ve got professional sailors within our club and boats that are being run and campaigned professionally, so it’s pretty full on. “But there’s no better feeling than going fast on Sydney Harbour and winning and being on that podium.”

Words Adam Lucius
Photos SailMedia


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Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club