by Adam Lucius
The Australian 16ft Skiff Championships 2013 wrapped up the sailing battle on Saturday with four-time national champion Fluid Building Services finally breaking through with a victory in the last race while Brydens Compensation Lawyers (Lee Knapton) ran away with the title.
Brydens crosses the line first to win race five in the Australian 16ft Skiff Championships at Manly
For the first time in a decade, the four-time national champs were staring at a winless summer.
Uncharacteristically, decorated skipper Clint Bowen had zero wins from 13 starts across seven NSW and Australian championship races before finally breaking through at the death.
Fluid's all-the-way win in race seven assured the Manly boat of third place on overall pointscore, behind runner-up Hubble Chemicals (Nathan Wilmot) and newly-crowned champions Brydens Compensation Lawyers (Lee Knapton).
'It was very relieving. It's been frustrating all season,' Bowen said after Fluid's 70-second win over Straight Azz (Joel Rose) and Hubble.
'We haven't had a win at association level all year.
'It would have been the first time in 10 years for us.
'We've been lacking confidence so it's nice to get the monkey off the back.'
Lee Knapton, Pete Mackie and Ricky Bridge celebrate Brydens' national title - Australian 16ft Skiff Championships
Fluid meant business from the start of the race, held in a 13-18 sou'easter, and never looked in danger of surrendering the lead after getting off the line quickly.
'I put the red shirt on, the Tiger Woods shirt, to signify the last day of competition and our last chance,' Bowen explained
'It was all or nothing. We had to pull the finger out
'We got off the line well and had a bit more faith in ourselves.
'We kept it together and kept it positive.
'When you're back in 15th, 20th it's such hard sailing but when you are right out in front it's so much easier.'
Fluid starting the week hoping to snare a fourth national crown on home waters but Brydens' dominant performance put pay to that.
'Lee and (crewmen) Pete Mackie and Ricky Bridge were just so much better than the rest of us.
'They were unbelievable. They were in another class. They full deserve it.
'I'm actually disappointed we couldn't give them more competition.'