It takes a lot for Mal Page to pull out of a race.
But after being crook for over a week and losing seven kilos and a number of days off work, the Olympic gold medallist started ringing around for someone to take his place aboard Imagine Signage for last Saturday’s third heat of the Manly club championship.
“It got to about Wednesday and thought I better make a decision because I was feeling really crook,” Page revealed. “I’d had this flu for about 10 days and went from 80 kilos to 73 on top of having reduced lung capacity and thought there was no way I’d be sailing. “But after making a few calls I wasn’t able to find anyone to replace me and I started to feel a little bit better, so I decided to give it a go.”
Imagine Signage skipper Nathan Wilmot was extremely grateful he did. Page’s experience and sailing nous came to the fore as Imagine waged a ding-dong battle with reigning champion Moonen Yachts (Daniel Turner) to claim a hotly contested race.
Twenty-three seconds separated the two boats, with Wilmot overcoming a penalty turn to regain the lead and go on to win. Modern Concept Constructions (Gerard Smith) sailed a terrific race to finish third, with IMEI (High Stodart) fourth.
Sapped of energy after running what felt like a marathon on water – and nursing a celebratory Peroni – Page said: “It was a cracking race. There was nothing between us the whole time. The penalty turn costs us about 150m and at that stage the race could have gone the other way. “They were suddenly well clear but we felt we were sailing well and just focused on getting ourselves back in front, which fortunately we did. “They’ve (Moonen) been one of the benchmark boats Australia-wide for some time and have dominated the club championship in recent years, so it was good to come out on top.”
With a third and two wins on the board, Imagine Signage lead the overall club championship tally from Sail Racing (Felix Grech), Sutech Building Consultants (Michael Koerner) and Red Pumps (Tyler Dransfield). Moonen sits sixth and has much ground to make up over the remaining five heats. The wily old fox Clint Bowen steered Fluid Building to a handicap win after finishing fifth on scratch.
Image credit: SailMedia
Words Adam Lucius