In the years to come, when Red Pumps skipper Tyler Dransfield looks back on his first win in the Manly 16s, he’ll be able to look you in the eye and truly say it didn’t come easy.
The 18-year-old saw off two of the best in the business – Nathan Wilmot (Imagine Signage) and Daniel Turner (Moonen Yachts) – to claim the sixth heat of the Manly club championship last Saturday. Only three seconds separated Red Pumps from runner-up Imagine, with defending club champion Moonen sliding into fourth. But the stats only tell half the story.
“It was crazy at the end. We rounded the last mark having a pretty clear lead on Imagine. Ruffy and Imagine were fighting it out,” an excited Dransfield recalled. “Mooney gybed early and Imagine kept going so we were kind of getting cornered from each side. “We then hit a hole coming into Middle Head and that’s when we thought Imagine were in front of us. “We ended up having to do two gybes and the first one was really bad and Image managed a really good gybe and I 100 per cent thought we’d blown it. We thought we were in second place at that stage.”
Asked what he had learned from the entire experience, Dransfield said: “To follow your gut. You can’t compensate for two boats going different ways. “Nathan’s a pretty intimidating bloke when you go the opposite way to him but we stuck at it. “It was really surreal to win. It means a lot.” Red Pumps is one of the more interesting combinations in the Manly fleet. Dransfield is barely out of school and in just his second season in the 16s, while crew members Greg Windust and Jay Harris are both in their 40s and have been at this caper for some time. And while they haven’t spent a great deal of time together, it’s clear there is something special brewing. As a result, Red Pumps heads into next month’s Australian 16ft Championships at St George with increased confidence.
Dransfield said: “I think it’s gelling the more times we sail. Last week we were last around the top mark and ended up sixth, so I think we can get ourselves out of most positions. “We’re aiming for top 10 at the nationals. We think that’s achievable.” Imagine Signage head to St George safe in the knowledge the Manly club championship is pretty much sewn up. Holding a big lead on the overall pointscore with two heats to race, only a catastrophe will prevent Wilmot from picking up the silverware.
The fight for the 13ft club championship is a lot tighter.
Harken (Heidi Bates) took out the sixth heat to maintain a two-point gap over defending champion Ebix (Jemma Hopkins).
Words Adam Lucius