SailRacing back on track in Manly16s

It says a lot about Sail Racing’s ambitions and expectations that a top 10 finish at the Australian 16ft Skiff Championships came with a tinge of disappointment.

The Felix Grech-skippered boat finished a creditable sixth overall after winning heat two and reaching the podium in heats three and five. They were being talked about as genuine contenders midway through the series but ultimately fell away to place just outside the first five. An 11th in the final heat cruelled any hope of a top three finish, but there was no sulking or kicking stones.

Grech and crew Paul Darmanin and Tom Potter opted against a breather, returning to the water last Saturday to win Manly’s seventh long course pointscore race of the season. “We started the (nationals) regatta in a really good spot and the boat felt great,” Grech said. “Unfortunately, we had a few bad races at the end that cost us a possible podium. It was a great regatta, with some very close racing and it was awesome to get to compete with such a strong fleet. “The boat-on-boat racing was amazing. There are so many good sailors in the class now that you really have to work hard for a top 10 spot.”

In a tricky and bumpy easterly, Sail Racing led at the top mark of Saturday’s race and held a comfortable lead for most of the journey. They were momentarily under pressure when IMEI (Sarah Lee) launched a great comeback to challenge at the third top mark, but a capsize soon after handed the ascendancy back to Grech. Grech said: “We’re having heaps of fun on the boat and hopefully we can string a few more wins together before the season is over.”

Sutech Building Consultants (Michael Koerner) was 48 seconds behind in second, with Cunninghams (Nick Connor) third and Capital Brewing Co (Jessica Iles) fourth.

There was a familiar face just outside the top four after Typhoon’s Craig Nicholls resumed steering duties to skipper the Australian championship-winning boat into fifth. It was Nicholls’ first sail on a skiff for 10 months and he was still feeling the pain 48 hours later after combining with national champs Brett Davis and Mal Page. “I felt like I was the pinball in a pinball machine at various stages,” he laughed.

“You forget how much it takes out of you but it was good to get out there again. I’m pretty pleased with that result.”

Words Adam Lucius

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