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New Club Champions decided at Manly 16s

by Adam Lucius 19 Mar 01:43 PDT
Heidi Bates and Orlando Sadlik, Manly 13ft Skiff Club Champions © SailMedia

The initial signs didn't look great when Heidi Bates and Orlando Sadlik first joined forces on Harken 13ft Skiff Team ahead of Manly's 2023/24 13ft season.

The teenage pair spent just as much time in the water as on top of it as they ironed out the kinks over a quick get-to-know-you crash course during the winter months.

Those early setbacks and challenges were the background to an extraordinary win in the prestigious Manly 13ft club championship, sealed with a victory in Saturday's final heat.

Needing to keep defending champion Ebix (Jemma Hopkins) at bay - while staying upright themselves - Harken did just that to cross line almost five minutes in front of the rest of the fleet.

"Considering how we were in winter when we got the boat and we could barely go out without capsizing, we've improved a lot," Heidi said. "I'm really proud of how far we've come this season. "Our teamwork improved as the season went on and we were able to sail in bigger winds. I'm really happy that we can go out on windy days now with confidence that we can get around the track. Orlando and I worked really hard and it feels pretty special to win the club champs, especially in our first season and against so many good sailors and awesome competition."

Apart from a throwaway ninth in heat four, Harken's consistent results were the key. Four wins and three podium finishes set up a sizeable lead heading into the final heat, but Heidi was taking nothing for granted.

She said: "Before the last race we knew that we had a few points lead on Ebix and that we couldn't give them too much space.

"Over the past few weeks we've been happy with our speed and needed to sail a clean race without any mistakes. "It was really light and sloppy and we were trying to focus on keeping the boat moving.

"Ebix and us were pretty close together at the top of the first beat and we managed to get away from them a little bit downwind. "Our speed was really good in those conditions and once we got clear we could sail our own race and concentrate on not making mistakes. "I was lucky to have an experienced crew for my first season especially on the windy days as Orlando knows what he is doing and is very good at getting the boat up after we capsize."

Ebix finished runner-up on the overall standings, with Modern Concept Constrictions (Tom Cameron) third and Botany Scaffold (Sophie Hart) fourth.

In the 16s, Imagine Signage (Nathan Wilmot) already had the club championship title in the bag as it completed a celebratory journey around the track in Saturday's final heat.

IMEI (Joel Beashel) won the race from Moonen Yachts (Daniel Turner) and Sail Racing (Felix Grech), with Imagine coming in seventh. Wilmot's first club championship victory officially ends Turner's run of four consecutive titles.

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