At the start of Manly 16ft Skiff Club’s long course pointscore heat on Saturday, the boys on Moonen Yachts were jokingly sledging fill-in Botany Access skipper Gerard Smith about being a touch rusty. By the end of the race, it was Smith enjoying the loudest laugh after helping hold off the Daniel Turner-skippered Moonen to claim an important win. 

“The blokes on Moonen were hassling me, asking if I still knew how to do it. I just let them know at the end of the day that I obviously do,” Smith smiled after combining with brother-in-law Brent Dennis and Ryan Thomas to win by close to a minute.

Moving from the bow to fill-in for regular skipper Chris Thomas, Smith and his crew opted for the big rig and were vindicated with a fast start and a fairly comfortable journey in an all-too-rare nor easter. Botany Access simply extended its lead as the race went on, finishing well ahead of Moonen, Sail Racing (Felix Grech) and Red Pumps (Bruce Savage).

Smith was full of praise for his crew. “He (Dennis) definitely shouldn’t be in retirement. He’s very good and it makes it very easy at the back of the boat having him at the front,” he said. “And Ryan on sheet knows what he’s doing and always make it enjoyable.

“We’re all pretty relaxed about our sailing. “We’re all in our 40s with families and kids and jobs so it doesn’t leave a lot of spare time.”There’s no pressure. If someone has other commitments, we just look around for some to step in. “We don’t do any training. We pull the boat out of the shed of a weekend and go for a sail and have a couple of beers and catch up with everyone after it.”

Despite the laidback approach, Botany Access is still well placed in the club championship (fifth) and annual pointscore (fifth) as we head into the back-end of the season. Smith said: “We’ve usually been in the top 10, consistently round that fifth or sixth position. “We will be trying our best to get up to the top three in the pointscore and club championship if we can.” Botany Access also took out Saturday’s handicap honours from Musto (Hugh Stodart), Shebang (Anthony King) and Sutech Building Consultants (Felix Daverio).

by Adam Lucius

Photos SailMedia