by James Bury
Manly 16ft Skiff Club Harken Trophy.
Fleet - Manly 16ft Skiff Club Harken Trophy.
It was an offer simply too good to refuse.
For Sale: One near new 16ft skiff with experienced sheethand and for'and thrown in for good measure.
Skipper Chris Thomas, returning to the 16ft class after a two-year absence, couldn't walk past such a great deal.
He paid his money and took the helm of Southerly for Manly's 16ft Skiff Club season - and it's already proving a smart business transaction.
Southerly has been more than competitive over the first two months of the 2011/12 campaign, winning the handicap division and finishing third on scratch in Saturday's Harken Trophy spring pointscore race.
'It's the running joke at the club that I bought Southerly and inherited the crew with it,' Thomas laughed.
'I'm very happy to be back and very happy with the way the boat's going and the crew (Ben Plummer and Steve Cotton) is great.
'I didn't expect to be going this well so early but I'd like to think we could be a consistent top four, top five boat.'
'A few more podium finishes (top three)...I'd be happy with that.'
Southerly, Fire Stopping (Ben Bianco) and Altis Consulting (Phil Cooke) got off to a terrific start in Saturday's tricky 6-11 knot nor easter to have the race pretty much to themselves after the first work.
Fire Stopping and Altis then waged a tremendous attack and counter-attack race, with Fire Stopping just getting the cash by the slimmest of margins - two seconds.
Southerly was a gallant third and clear winner on handicap.
'We got out of the blocks well on the first downwind run and (the three boats) had a big gap on the rest of the fleet and stayed there,' Thomas said.
'Everything went very smoothly. If you are coming top three at Manly in such a competitive fleet then you've got to be very happy.'
Thomas enjoyed a double win, collecting on a side bet with veteran Typhoon skipper Craig 'Fast Eddie' Nicholls.
Attention next weekend swings to heats one and two of the NSW 16ft Championship on Lake Illawarra.