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Vaikobi 2021 Boots - LEADERBOARD

Manly Junior Australian Championship at the Manly 16ft Skiff Club

by Manly 16' SSC 7 Jan 00:31 PST 28-30 December 2021
Manly Junior Australian Championship 2021 © Hollie Napper

Ash Napper and Taj Bridge are not only proving themselves champions of the Manly Junior feet - they are the blueprint for the future of the class.

Eleven-year-old Ash and Taj, 10, took out their second consecutive MJ Australian title after an almost flawless eight-race performance aboard Stingray.

Hosted by Manly 16ft Skiff Club across three days, the pair won six races and placed third in two other heats to clinch top prize from clubmates Fire Power (Harrison Thomas/Chloe Jansen) and a fast-finishing Beached Az (Lachlan Jansen/Baden Thomas).

Stingray's win wasn't quite as dominant as their win 12 months early but impressive all the same in a variety of weather conditions.

"There was a bit more competition this year compared to last but still a great performance from the two boys," Manly 16ft Skiff club junior chairperson, Ryan Thomas, said.

"They are a really good combination and showed the advantage of having spent so much time together in the boat.

"It was also good to see they were pushed in a lot of the heats. It was a pretty competitive regatta."

Ash and Taj come from sailing royalty, the sons of 16ft skiff national champions Rob Napper and Ricky Bridge respectively.

Ryan Thomas sailed against both Rob and Ricky and says it's imperative his generation does all it can to ensure the MJ class doesn't continue to lose numbers.

This year's nationals fleet featured just 20 boats, around half the numbers the class was attracting just a few years ago.

"Unfortunately, the trend has been down for a number of reasons and we're doing all we can to re-build," Ryan said.

"A lot of that is on my generation of parents, who used to sail MJs and skiffs, to get the kids interested.

"We are starting to see that with Taj and Ash and my boys (Baden and Harrison), but it'd be great to see even more sign up.

"Manly is the dominant club at the moment but we want to promote the overall class and build the fleet up."

Asked for his MJ sales pitch, Ryan said: "It's a high-performance boat with three sails that has two people rather than an individual's boat.

"You can sail with a mate and have fun and get all the grounding of learning to sail with a crew and a main and a jib and a spinnaker.

"Kids in the past that have come out of MJs have gone on to become national champions in other classes and competed at the Olympics.

"It's a great class."

Stingray walked away from the nationals with two trophies - the overall scratch win and the junior under-12s crown.

Manly's Cover Girlz (Tayla Lees/Audrey Windust) took out the All-Girls division on countback from Twin Turbo (Abigale Rolfe/Alana Jansen), while Fast n Furious (Eliza Kemp/Miranda Kemp), from Hornsby Kuring-gai, were declared handicap winners.

Lucas Rolfe and Levi Windust only came together at the regatta after they lost crew to Covid, but jelled quickly to snare the Novice title on Seasalt.

Sponsor Vaikobi deserves a special mention for its great support, along with a long list of volunteers and support crew.

For those interested in getting involved in the Manly Junior class, check out the website or Facebook page.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameSkipperCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
12779StingrayAsh NapperTaj BridgeMANLY16SC11[3]131119
22782Fire PowerHarrison ThomasChloe JansenMANLY16SC3[5]12222517
32772Beached AzLachlan JansenBaden ThomasMANLY16SC22[7]4143218
42776Twin TurboAbigail RolfeAlana JansenMANLY16SC4443654[7]30
52775Cover GirlzTayla LeesAudrey WindustMANLY16SC[6]365436633
62769Another Dark&StormyBen MilhamNoah WindustMANLY16SC56106I5[13F]5340
72730On FireHarvey WindustRose HarrisMANLY16SC7[8]26I887442
82774Cool BeansGeorgie DavidsonVanessa MillsMH16SSC8796I978[12]54
92742Fast 'n FuriousEliza KempMiranda KempHKSC9[10]86I7610955
102728HavocRhys StewartKoa JinguHKSC10I956I[11]10111061
112777Black JackJackson DentMordeci MowdayBalmoralSC[13F]13S13S6I1299870
122747TsunamiChloe CottonBella HarrisMANLY16SC10I11116I1011[12]1170
Vaikobi 2021 Boots - FOOTER