Why stop at four?

That’s what victorious Moonen Yachts skipper Daniel Turner was asking after he muscled himself into rare company with a fourth straight Manly 16ft club championship on Saturday.

Turner draws alongside Escapade’s Russell Slade (1939-43) on the list of skippers to claim the title in four consecutive seasons. He is now hunting Trevor Barnabas’s five-in-a-row on Chesty Bond-2UE/Baracuda-2UE (1991-95) and eyeing Michael Polkinghorne’s six-on-the-trot aboard Bluefin (1967-72). The holy grail remains the Clint Bowen-skippered Fluid Building Services’ seven consecutive crowns from 2002-09.

After seeing off Australian 16ft champion Typhoon (Nathan Wilmot) to seal this year’s title in a thrilling finish in brilliant sailing conditions, Turner was daring to dream big. “Yep, absolutely we do,” Turner replied when asked whether Moonen was going after records. “There’s a lot of history in this club. You look at the honour board and see how many events those top guys won and you literally look up to them. “Whether it’s the Bowen generation or the Barnabas generation or before that, we’re chasing it. “We’re still young enough, we’ve still got enough energy and the boat’s still going quick enough. “We’ll keep doing this until something gives.”

Turner and crew Matt Stenta and Gus Williams needed all their composure under pressure to prevail on a day of high drama in the final heat of the season. Needing to either win the race or finish two places ahead of Typhoon, Moonen concentrated on its own race rather than worrying about what Wilmot and his team was up to. Moonen, Sail Racing, Sutech Building Consultants (Felix Daverio) and Cunninghams (Nick Connor) were the front-runners midway through an exhausting race, but the pressure built as Typhoon began to make its presence felt after being stranded mid-fleet.

Incredibly, just nine seconds separated the first three home – Sail Racing, Cunninghams and Moonen. It then came down to whether fourth-placed Sutech could hold off the fast-finishing Wilmot, who had manoeuvred Typhoon into fifth.

They did, by 50 seconds, to ensure Turner emerged victorious by a solitary point over Typhoon on the overall standings. Red Pumps Red (Tyler Dransfield) and Cunninghams were third and fourth respectively.

“This fleet is so good that it’s relentless every week, so to win after all we’ve been through makes it worthwhile,” Turner said.  “To be able to go out with two mates and sail fast and win makes it all the more sweeter. “Those guys were just textbook quality today.”

Fire Stopping (Alex Hart) finished a clear handicap winner, taking the title with a 10-point break over Bartley Construction (Nathan Lilley).
EBIX (Jemma and James Hopkins) completed the national-club championship double in the 13s despite failing to reach the podium for the first time this season in Saturday’s final heat.
Consistent placings throughout the campaign, including three bullets, helped EBIX to the narrowest of series wins over a never-say-die Bartley Construction (Taylor Springett).

by Adam Lucius
Photos SailMedia