16FT SKIFF STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS COME TO MANLY
Manly boats hold down the top four overall placings after a spirited opening to the 2012/13 NSW 16ft Skiff Association Championships.
Fire Stopping (Ben Bianco) recorded a first and an eighth on home water at Manly, while defending champions Fluid Building Services (Clint Bowen) recorded back-to-back runner-up finishes. Recent Manly entrant Brydens Compensation Lawyers grabbed a first and a third.
Fluid and Brydens sit at the head of the overall standings on four points, with Fire Stopping close behind on nine points.
A fourth Manly boat, Sutech Building Consultants (Daniel Turner), are a further place back on 16 points.
The next two heats will be held at Drummoyne mid-November with the title to be decided at St George Sailing Club in the final two heats.
Fluid opened up a lead of more than two minutes heading into the final leg of race one but were overtaken by Fire Stopping at the death after the breeze dropped dramatically. On Sunday, Brydens won by more than five minutes from Fluid and Hubble (Nathan Wilmot) third. Fire Stopping had to be content with eighth. 'We couldn't put a foot wrong on Saturday but on Sunday we zigged when we should have zagged,' Fire Stopping crew member James Bury explained. 'That's sailing for you but overall we're pretty happy with the weekend and where we stand.'
Bowen is equally happy to be sitting where he is as Fluid eye a third consecutive title. 'If that breeze had hung in there for an extra 30 seconds I reckon we'd win on Saturday, but that's the way it goes sometimes,' he said. 'On Sunday we sailed quite conservatively because the breeze was flicking around and second was pretty pleasing. it's a six heat series and you've got to try and be there each race and so far we have. We've put ourselves in a pretty good position.'
RACE REPORT - 29/09/12
Manly 16ft Skiff, Fire Stopping carried strong incentives on and off the water as it continued an impressive summer tune-up with victory in the Artvue Printing Trophy Race.
While a win was their main aim, a pole position finish would ensure an early end to the race and allow a quick dash back to the clubhouse to watch the final stages of the AFL grand final. The Ben Bianco-skippered boat powered home in the strong westerly to win by almost two minutes from arch-rival Fluid Building Services (Clint Bowen) and Sutech Building Consultants (Daniel Turner).
'We didn't say anything to each other about the AFL because our focus out there was on winning the race, but it was a nice bonus to get in early and get back for the second half of the grand final,' Fire Stopping crew member James Bury said.
'It was a great day all-round - we won the race and the Swans got the cash.' Just like Sydney's victory, Fire Stopping's triumph wasn't secured until the death. They waged a fierce battle with Fluid and Sutech, the lead changing hands on a number of occasions as the trio fought to stay upright in the testing conditions. It was almost a case of last man standing as Bianco kept his skiff upright on the last work to clear away.
That's two wins and a third to open Fire Stopping's 2012/13 campaign, with bigger prizes awaiting later i n the summer in the shape of the State and National titles.
'Things are shaping up alright but we are not counting any chickens just yet', Bury said. 'Clint still hasn't got his full crew on and is still playing with new rigs, as is Sutech. I think they are the ones to watch once they figure out their rigs. It's a very competitive season. I guess every race will be as intensely fought as a Nationals heat. We can't relax for one minute this year.'
RACE REPORT - 08/09/12
It's fair to say the crew on Chapman High Performance Sailing turned a few heads as they rigged up to compete in the Club Marine Trophy race. While the more experienced skippers opted for a small rig in the strengthening westerly, CHPS gambled on going small.
Out on the water the differences were even more noticeable: a wrong sized spinnaker, a brand new carbon mast and rigging and a set-up akin to an 18-footer than a 16ft skiff.
But somehow it all came together to have CHPS leading National Champion, Fluid Building Services (Clint Bowen) deep into the race.
A capsize on the final work ultimately condemned CHPS to fourth spot - Fluid finishing third behind winner Fire Stopping (Ben Bianco) and runner-up Altis Consulting (Phil Cooke).
But it felt as good as a win for skipper Evan Darmanin, for'and Lachlan Hunter and sheethand, Mitchell Galbraith. "It was a good feeling to lead Clint for most of the race, but I don't think we can take much notice given the different rigs and changeable conditions," Darmanin said. "I know Clint was trialling his own new rig, so give him a week or two and he'll find another gear too. This season for us is about learning how to get the most out of the new design and doing something a bit different. I'd love to win a race on scratch - that's the first goal - and the National titles are also a focus. The new rig is certainly different to what everybody else is doing, so if it works our sights might climb even higher."
Altis Consulting took out handicap honours for the second week running, with Custom Engineering (John DeMontfort) second and Fire Stopping third.
OPENING SEASON CHALLENGE AGAINST THE ELEMENTS
The start of the sailing season was welcomed by a beautiful Manly morning. It was great to see the skiffs all lined up along East Esplanade getting ready to compete in their first race. What a difference a few hours make? By the time the race started the wind and swell had kicked in for a tempestuous afternoon of racing.
Making the decision to test their skills against the gusty conditions, 17 skiffs set sail across the 13ft and 16ft Skiff Classes. It was to be a baptism of fire, the wind increased throughout the race with the Committee Boat recording consistent 30 knot S-SE breezes in very lumpy sea conditions. This took its toll on the fleet with numerous retirements which included the entire 13ft Skiff Class.
The rescue boats were kept busy assisting limping skiffs back home to the Club. Bean Counters crew member, Cameron Percival put in a great effort keeping the skiff off the rocks at Cannae Point but exhaustion set in and thankfully Mark Graham stepped in to sail the skiff single handed back to the Club.
The only skiffs left on the course, Altis Consulting (Phil Cooke) and Fire Stopping (Ben Bianco) crossed the finish line in that order much to the relief of the crews onboard.
By the time it was all over, the cold and battered sailors were nursing their wounds at the bar hoping the next race is not so brutal and a whole lot easier to sail.
FLUID BUILDING SERVICES - CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP WINNER 2011-12 SEASON
Clint Bowen grabbed another large slice of skiff sailing history when he became just the fourth Manly skipper in 90 years to capture the Club, State and National titles in the one season.
After guiding Fluid Building Services to victory in the NSW and Australian Championships earlier in the season, Bowen held his nerve to claim the final heat of the Club Championship.
In edging out closest rival, Sutech Building Consultants (Daniel Turner), which finished fourth behind Fire Stopping (Ben Bianco) and runner-up Altis Consulting (Phil Cooke), Fluid took home the Club's top sailing prize for the 10th time in 12 years.
They now just sit four titles behind the legendary Russell Slade, who claimed the first of his 14 crowns in the mid-1930s. Greg Hyde in 1995/96 aboard Otis was the last Manly skipper to win three major titles in one year, with Gavin Jones (Asea) in 1986/87 and Trevor Barnabas in 1978/79 also pulling off the hat-trick.
'We set our goals at winning all three but obvioulsy a lot of things have to fall into place to achieve it,' Bowen saild minutes after leaving the water. 'I'm very forunate to have a great crew with me and we are very relieved and happy to complete a perfect season.'
Bowen needed crew members Brent Dennis and Anthony King more than ever after a less than auspicious start to the final heat. Needing to win the race or at least finish one spot ahead of Sutech - the only boat capable of overhauling Fluid on the Club Championship point score - Bowen was struggling at the start.
'I got caught up on the wire and nearly went in backwards,' he explained. 'It could have been the end of us but the other boys said 'take a deep breath, Bozo' and we recovered'.
In the end there was almost two minutes between Fluid and Altis with Sutech's gallant run ending in a credible fourth.
Fluid will defend its National title at next year's Australian Championship which will be hosted by the Club, before eyeing new challenges. 'We're keen to try and win at Manly next year and re-assess from there and see what we're going to do,' Bowen said.