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Manly 16ft Skiff Season Short Course Pointscore - Races 5 & 6

by Michael Chittenden 10 Nov 2020 06:14 GMT 7 November 2020

Winning a state title would be cause for celebration among most 16ft Skiff crews, but the men aboard IMEI are a different breed. Crew members Rob Napper and Trent Barnabas have been stinging all winter after finishing with just the one piece of silverware last season – the NSW 16ft Championship.

IMEI was up to its neck in both the club championship and Australian 16ft Skiff Championships but eventually bowed to stablemate Sutech Musto Racing (Daniel Turner) in both.

Ben Bianco has replaced Nathan Wilmot as skipper and IMEI has designs on not only retaining the state crown but pulling off the coveted hat-trick of titles – club, state and national. It's a feat Barnabas and Napper achieved aboard Manly Surf n Slide in the 2018/19 season.

"That was great (winning the state) but it wasn't much fun seeing the others go elsewhere last season and we'd like to get them back," Barnabas said of the national and club trophies. "Our aim this year is to win the major regattas."

IMEI is at home in any conditions but showed it handles the heavy going better than most in winning back-to-back short course races at Manly on Saturday. In fresh and choppy conditions – wind gusts hit the 30 knot mark – Bianco, Barnabas and Napper showed great composure and experience to lead the fleet home... or what was left of the fleet.

Eleven boats did not complete the first race, with the majority of those not venturing out for race two.

"It was pretty much survival mode and we've been there, done that for a long time now," Barnabas said. "In those conditions there is no room for error. Once you capsize your race is over. If you can stay afloat you’re a good chance of finishing in the top three. We just stayed afloat – that was the name of the game. We were one of the only ones not to have a major swim."

IMEI also won the first race on handicap but had to settle for second behind Cunninghams (Nick Connor) in the late race. IMEI leads the overall pointscore standings from Cunninghams and Botany Access (Chris Thomas). Sail Racing (Felix Grech) is fourth.

The second heat of the club championship will be run on Saturday.

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