As they say in sport, form is temporary, and class is permanent.
Asked why he thought it had taken longer than expected to gel as a team so far this season, Moonen Yachts skipper Daniel Turner replied: “It took a bit of time for us to stop sailing like idiots – two weeks to be exact.”
Moonen, chasing a fifth straight club championship, were surprisingly off the pace in the opening two heats of the 2022/23 title race last weekend, registering a ninth and 10th to sit eighth on the overall standings.
It followed some okay but not outstanding performances in earlier races for a team that prides itself on being in every contest. Moonen made a big statement last Saturday, holding off the all-star Imagine Signage (Nathan Wilmot) to take out the second long course race of the season.
“It was a bit of a breakthrough race – first win with that team, first win with that boat,” Turner said. “We had a few fittings on the boat that maybe we weren’t too familiar with and it’s a new boat, new crew (Simon Hoffman has replaced Gus Williams) and you’ve got to learn your lessons and hopefully we’ve learnt them. “The way the boat went, with all our old sails on, and the way we managed to hold off the attacker (Imagine Signage) shows me the crew is doing what comes naturally.”
Moonen’s first win wasn’t without its anxious moments. Imagine Signage, boasting two Olympians in Wilmot and Mal Page along with Wilmot’s world champion cousin Annie, kept the heat on for the entire journey. The lead changed hands several times before Moonen finally gained the upper hand.
“I was always confident in the crew but not confident we were on the right side of the wind shift,” Turner said. “But from about the final lap, we had a pretty good cover on them and we’re in a good rhythm with the breeze and the course and managed to give him a good bit of gas over the last work. “There’s three professional sailors (on Imagine) and I’m just a poor old electrician, so I’ll take that.”
Wilmot was seven seconds behind in second with Sutech Building Consultants (Michael Koerner) third and Shebang (Anthony King) fourth. Moonen completed the double, accepting handicap honours from Bartley Construction (Dan Bromelow), Altis Consulting (Phillip Cooke) and Shebang.
Meanwhile, Middle Harbour 13ft duo Avril Richardson and Warwick Taylor made the short journey over to the Manly start line and were rewarded with a big win. Their boat, Plonk Café, finished two minutes clear of the nearest rival Harken (Heidi Bates). In a mutually beneficial arrangement, Richardson and Taylor are prospering from an arrangement that allows them to compete in Manly’s club races while, in turn, their presence strengthens the fleet.
“We often come over to Manly to race in bigger fleets. It’s great for us to be able to race in such a competitive environment,” skipper Richardson said.
“We’ve really been able to find our groove.”
Saturday’s race was neck and neck for most of the way before Plonk Café pulled away in the run home
Images by SailMedia
Words Adam Lucius