114th Botany Bay Championship

 In 16ft Skiff News, St George Sailing Club

After more than two hours of intense sailing, just three seconds proved the difference in the 114th running of the Botany Bay Championship on Saturday.

Imagine Signage (Nathan Wilmot) continued its excellent late season form, edging out local boat Southerly (Sarah Lee) in a thrilling finish in front of a packed house at the St George Sailing Club. It’s Wilmot’s fourth straight win in the Botany Bay Championship, but none of his previous victories matches this one for close shaves.

“That would have to be the closest race I’ve ever had in a 16,” the relieved skipper said. “I don’t remember anything like that before…with both of us gybing for the line for the win. That’s definitely the hardest of the four (wins) and to do it just off the clubhouse was pretty spectacular. It was nice to get it done.”

Wilmot heaped praise on his two young crew members Max Paul and Jack Hildebrand while revealing a conservative approach was the key. “I was very cautious this year about going around all the channel markers and being on the right side of them after running aground and going the wrong way the last few years,” he explained. “Southerly got away from us up the first leg but we pulled them back over the next couple. Then down the big, long run from Yarra Bay to St George, we managed to get on their tail before it got really light and we got in front. They are really fast and they were coming at us but we just tried to give them as much pain as we could and stay in front.”

Southerly – the defending national champions – could not have done much more. Lee said: “We thought we had a pretty comfy lead but they picked a better shift downwind. It was great sailing all day and just that three seconds in it at the finish line. In another sign of the continued growing health of the 16s, four different clubs were represented in the top 10 place-getters.”

IMEI (Hugh Stodart) in fourth was the only other Manly boat to make the top 10.





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