16ft Skiff NSW Champions – Moonen Yachts

It was a victory 15 years in the making – celebrated with a spicy rum and ginger ale after attending to parenthood duties.

Manly’s Daniel “Ruffy” Turner is finally a NSW 16ft Championship-winning skipper after turning in a near faultless campaign across five heats aboard Moonen Yachts. After recording a hat-trick of victories at Drummoyne last month, Moonen finished the job with two thirds at Belmont at the weekend to secure the famous trophy by a clear margin from clubmates Imagine Signage (Jim Colley) and Sail Racing (Felix Grech). Grech finished runner-up to Belmont’s Insight Building Services (Rod Carter) on the overall handicap standings. Turner has captured club and national crowns but the state silverware has always eluded him – until now.

“We’ve won plenty of clubbies (club championships) and ticked off the nationals but never this one,” he said. “We’ve had eight or nine podium finishes in the states and my personal goal for a long time has been to win one. “To say I badly wanted it is an understatement.

“And as much as those other trophies mean a lot to us, this was the one we were chasing hard to complete the set.”

Previous campaigns have been beset by bad luck, bad results and maybe a touch of bad karma. But Turner never felt jinxed.  “I wouldn’t say it was a curse but maybe the timing wasn’t quite right and we missed a few things here and there over the years,” he said.

“It was nothing major and I never believed we couldn’t win it, but it’s a relief to finally get our name on that trophy.”  But nothing is straightforward when it comes to Turner and state titles.

Saturday’s fourth heat was abandoned due to a lack of wind, meaning the series would have been declared null and void had the breeze not played ball the next day. Much to Turner’s relief, a solid 10-15 sou’ easter arrived to push the fleet around in heat five, allowing Moonen to secure top prize with a race to spare. After celebrating with a rum and ginger ale after bathing his two young kids and putting them to bed, Turner reflected on Moonen’s achievement.

He said: “We finished with six points and our drop was a third. I think in any fleet if you’re dropping a third and you’re not happy then you’re probably in the wrong sport. “You look at that trophy and it’s got some seriously old plaques on it with the names of legends of Australian sailing. “They’re people who have gone on to be Volvo Ocean racing sailors, America’s Cup sailors, famous boat builders – elites of the sport. “It’s amazing to join them.”

Turner was full of praise for his rotating crew of Simon Hoffman, Sean Connor and Josh Porebski. With regular crew member Matt Stenta unavailable, Connor filled in at Drummoyne before Porebski took over at Drummoyne, with Hoffman the glue keeping it all together. “They were all amazing… Matt doing his stuff on the sidelines and the other guys not missing a trick on the water. It was a real team effort,” the skipper said.

Turner, Stenta and Hoffman will reunite for a crack at next month’s national titles at St George.

Congratulations also goes to 13ft Skiff State Champions Ebix – James and Jemma Hopkins with just 4 points over (1,1,1,1) Bartley Construction (12) and Harken (16)

Words Adam Lucius

Picture: Belmont 16s

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