If you’d seen the Cunninghams crew in the rigging park before Manly’s 16ft club championship double header on Saturday, you would have immediately put a red line through their chances.
Skipper Nick Connor turned up with a sore head after a big Friday night and sheethand Alex Chittenden and forward Mike Childs weren’t exactly in the best of shape after doing a bit of partying themselves. Somehow, they summoned the energy to get out to the start line and the headaches instantly lifted as the gun fired for heat eight of the championship. Cunninghams got off to a clean start and maintained the rage to finish runner-up behind national champs Typhoon (Nathan Wilmot) in brilliant sailing conditions. Buoyed by that performance, Connor and his team went one better in the next heat, holding off Typhoon to win their first club championship race this season.
“We certainly weren’t expecting a day like that when we got there,” Connor admitted. “We’d all gone out separately the night before and obviously had a few beers between us, so we were in a bit of pain.
“Maybe that relaxed us a little bit because we raced pretty stress-free. “There was nothing special we did but we just kept it clean and avoided all the congestion on the harbour. “We were quite shocked with the results to be honest. We had a bit of a gap in the fleet in the first race and did the same thing again in the second race and went one better.”
Cunninghams was sporting a new number one rig after replacing the old one when it broke during last month’s nationals, employing the “rig whisperer” Robert “Baz” Atkins to do the fine-tuning. Their boat speed was up all day, the 1-2 results moving Cunninghams up to sixth on the club championship standings.
Typhoon has one hand on the title after their two top two finishes, but we may hear more about the second result after Moonen Yachts (Daniel Turner) was forced out following a collision with Wilmot’s boat. Moonen is just one place behind Typhoon on the scratch standings and has designs on pinching the club championship in the final heat.
Fire Stopping (Alex Hart) and Bartley Construction (Nathan Lilley) are staging a ding-dong battle for handicap honours, locked together at the top of the leaderboard with a race to go on March 18.
Words Adam Lucius
Photos Sail Media