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Henri-Lloyd 2022 December - SW LEADERBOARD

16ft Skiffs: Opening day develops into a wild race of survival

by Michael Chittenden 23 Sep 2022 06:07 PDT
16ft Skiff - Opening Heat of Manly's 2022/23 Club Championship © Michael Chittenden

The winning skipper felt more like Daniel Ricciardo than Daniel Turner as the opening heat of Manly's 2022/23 club championship developed into a wild race of survival last Saturday.

The fleet was hit with the full wind range, an uncooperative nor-wester forcing the race committee to delay firing the gun as it searched for the right start line position.

When the heat finally did get under way, the breeze fluctuated between 8-10 knots and the low to high 20s.

It was chaos and carnage as half the fleet took at least one swim, including eventual winner Moonen Yachts as it rounded the top mark in first place.

"It was like driving an F1 car in the wet with your slicks on," Turner quipped after recording his second win in as many weeks.

"We had the big rig in so you're kind of hoping for the best as you turn the corner.

"When it's windy like that, and you get caught out with the big rig, you forget when you're manoeuvring that you've got all that extra sail area.

"It caught everyone by surprise and we capsized. But we've had our fair share of capsize practice over the years, so we got it up within seconds and continued on."

Again, leaning on a motor racing analogy, the good crews quickly recover from a swim just like a F1 team responds instantly to an unscheduled pit stop.

"If you're good at it you can get away with not too damage from a capsize, but if you let the boat get wet and water in the kite and fluff around, you can turn a 10 or 20-second capsize into five-minute capsize pretty easily," Turner explained.

Turner counted at least 10 other capsized boats behind him, but Moonen's hasty recovery allowed it to clear away from the impact zone and sail away to a 58-second win from Red Pumps Red (Tyler Dransfield), IMEI (Daniel Links) and Botany Access (Chris Thomas).

Red Pumps Red was one of the few boats to avoid a capsize and kept the pressure on Moonen all the way to the finish line.

It was another stand-out performance from Dransfield and his crew, following up from the previous week's fourth-placed finish in a race where only four boats completed the course.

Up against a quality fleet, the composed Dransfield is more than holding his own early in the season and surprising his more experienced 16s rivals.

Half a dozen boats recorded DNFs (Did Not Finish) as the breeze took its toll in the club championship opener, while Typhoon (Nathan Wilmot) placed third initially but was later scratched and handed a DNF when it was ruled it had crossed the wrong finish line.

It was that sort of day.

The race committee later abandoned the afternoon's second scheduled race due to the unpredictable conditions.

Moonen, with bowman Matt Stenta back to join his skipper and Gus Williams, avoided all the drama to begin its club championship defence in the best possible fashion.

"It was another good win against a quality fleet," Turner said.

"There were 20-odd boats out there and you had Olympic gold medallists, world champions, 18-foot, nationals (16s) champions.

"We are very happy with that result in those conditions."

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