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Manly 16ft Skiff Club race review - 27 November

by Michael Chittenden 2 Dec 2021 11:17 PST 27 November 2021
Moonen Yachts - 16ft Skiff Winter Series 2021 - Sydney Australia © Michael Chittenden @SailMedia

Shocking conditions on the water and just as shocking off it. That was the story from a dramatic day of racing as winter returned for Manly's third short course pointscore race on Saturday.

A reduced fleet of nine headed out in the wet and wild conditions, but only three lasted the distance as a 20-25 southerly dispensed plenty of punishment. But the excitement and drama didn’t end there.

Back in the East Esplanade rigging park, the fleet was quite literally being shocked following the race.

A flooded substation near the new amenities block "electrified" the lawn area, giving sailors a nasty jolt each time they touched their boats. For IMEI skipper Dave O'Connor, who guided his skiff to victory over Moonen Yachts (Daniel Turner) and Botany Access (Chris Thomas), it brought back unpleasant memories.

He was electrocuted at the Flying 11 nationals in 2001 after a handrail in a caravan park became 'live' due to a current running through the earth.

"Joe (Turner) and Ruffy (Daniel Turner) still call me 'Sparky'," he laughed.

"But it was a bit like that on Saturday. When you touched the spinnaker pole you'd get a bit of a shock.

"Everyone's wet and water and carbon are good conductors. It could have been really dangerous but fortunately, no one was hurt."

Ausgrid workers spent the next few days in the area and are confident of fixing the problem before the next weekend of racing.

The post-race drama was matched on the water after the race committee bravely pushed ahead with the heat, adding a 'buyer beware' disclaimer as the weather threw up high winds, chop, and consistent rain squalls.

IMEI overcame a sluggish start to take the lead at the top mark before taking a swim and handing the early advantage to Botany Access. But O'Connor and crew kept their composure to claw back the lead and take the win.

"It was almost like you wanted to get your capsizes out of the way early so you had time to recover," the skipper said.

"We just tried to keep it simple and minimise the number of manoeuvres and sweat on mistakes.

"They were tough conditions but it was a good call to go out. It was a great tune-up for next weekend."

O'Connor is expecting similar conditions when the final three heats of the NSW 16ft Championships are held at Middle Harbour across Saturday-Sunday.

IMEI is one of a cluster of boats right in the hunt for the title after tight racing in the opening three heats at Belmont.

Manly's Moneen Yachts hold the narrowest of leads (on countback), with any number of boats inside the top 10 in with a shot.

"It’s very close and very competitive, which is great for the class," O'Connor said.

"It's so good you can have a boat win one race and be dead last the next.

"It would be very special to win against such a high-quality fleet."

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