New boat, new name, same old result.

 In 13ft Skiff News, 16ft Skiff News, Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club

Opening race of the 2023/2024 Manly 16ft Skiff Season

Defending 16ft national champion Nathan Wilmot picked up where he left off last year, finishing with a win and a runner-up placing as Manly 16ft Skiff Club’s 101st season officially kicked into gear on Saturday with back-to-back pointscore races.

Just eight months ago, skipper Wilmot combined with Mal Page and late fill-in Zac Barnabas to claim the Australian 16ft crown in dramatic circumstances aboard Typhoon.

Wilmot and Malcolm Page remain this year, reuniting with regular crewmate Brett Davis as they christened new skiff Imagine Signage in style.

The trio finished second behind another consistent performer – Moonen Yachts (Daniel Turner) – in the day’s first race before turning the tables and beating Moonen home in the second race of the afternoon.

It was a near-perfect start to the season and a great way to celebrate Davis’ 48th birthday.

Imagine Signage, Moonen Yachts (Daniel Turner) and IMEI (Hugh Stodart) got away from the pack in the first race to make it a race in three before IMEI fell away in the final work, allowing Turner to grab the ascendency and hold off Wilmot for a 52-second win.

Moonen Yachts on their way to a Race 1 win

The breeze played ball a little more in the second race and IS took full advantage, pulling away to a comfortable victory over Moonen, Shebang (Anthony King) and Sutech Building Consultants (Michael Koerner).

“It (the wind) was all over the place, but it was nice to get out there and get a win on Brett’s birthday,” Wilmot said.

“We only put the boat in the water two weeks ago and it seems to be going well.

“The first race was pretty close but the second race the wind came in a bit more from the east or nor’ east and it became a real right-hand track and turned into a quick race.

“It’s just nice to be back out there with the old team back together.”

Imagine Signage with a Race 2 win

Overall, 20 boats faced the starter’s gun on an unseasonably summery day, which turned the rigging park into a mini-Rio beach as hundreds flocked to the water.

For Page, who doubles as Manly’s club Commodore, it was a pleasing scene as a new era at the club begins.

Manly has poured considerable money into sailing programs at home and over at St George in the hope of ushering through the next generation of 16ft skiff sailors.

Page said: “It’s been a big investment by the club and a huge talking point, not just in the skiff scene but in the wider sailing community.

“Even guys I talked to over the winter, who are Olympic aspirants or youth America’s Cup aspirants, were saying they love what we’re doing and would love to get into the 16s with us.

“The rewards will come probably in years to come but it’s exciting to be in this place.

“I feel like we’re on the precipice of something really big.”   

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Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club