Manly 16s Club Championships
Sail Racing skipper Felix Grech was so ill the night before the start of Manly’s club championship opener, it was touch and go whether he’d make it to the start line.
One lap into the first of two races, Grech was feeling even sicker as he looked up and saw just one boat behind him and the rest of the fleet well ahead. “I was really crook on Friday night and literally went straight from being in bed to sailing and straight back to bed,” Grech said. “I’ve got this flu thing that’s going around but I didn’t want to let the boys down and pull out. It was the club champs so I was keen to do it.” It didn’t seem like such a great idea as Sail Racing fell well behind in the opening race.
But that was as bad as it got as Grech and crew Paul Darmanin and Tom Potter pulled it together to work their way through the pack to claim a stunning victory before finishing runner-up to Imagine Signage (Nathan Wilmot) in the day’s second race. The 1-2 finishes have Sail Racing on top of the club championship leaderboard and daring to dream about ending Moonen Yachts’ four-year domination.
“We had a shocker at the start of the first race but made a really good comeback in the second lap,” Grech explained. “And then there was marker change on the third lap and a couple of boats went left and over-stepped the new mark, which let us in. “We rounded the top mark first and then sailed it home.”
Sutech Building Consultants (Zoe Dransfield) kept the blow torch on all the way, finishing 26 seconds behind in second place with Imagine Signage third and Red Pumps (Tyler Dransfield) fourth. Grech admitted it’s a heat Sail Racing may not have won in previous seasons.
“We just did a bit of reset after the bad start. This season is all about not stressing and putting pressure on ourselves if we end up in a bad spot,” he said. “It’s allowed us to bounce back quicker than we may have done in the past.”
Imagine Signage struck back in the day’s second race, holding off Sail Racing and the very persistent Sutech to win fairly comfortably. Grech said: “We are very happy with that start. It was a great day out. “The boys were on fire and I didn’t have to say or do too much.
“Any win at Manly is a good win, especially when you’re talking club champs.” Dransfield, who teamed with Will Dargaville and James Lawira-Fernandez, was just as happy with her back-to-back top three finishes. “It was my first time in a 16 since last season and it was a great day of super close racing,” she said. “We worked really well together and had great speed. I’m definitely looking forward to doing more 16s racing and hopefully getting a ride for the nationals.”
by Adam Lucius