Celebrating Manly 16s Centenary Year 1923-2023
10 Former Champions from the Club will be honoured at the Nationals 7-14th January
Trevor Barnabas was a reluctant but delighted bystander the moment Manly 16ft Skiff Club shed its bridesmaid tag and became a national champion for the first time, inspiring a generation of young sailors. Barnabas missed Christmas 1975 to travel to Perth with a bunch of Manly sailors and was on the beach when clubmate and good friend Bill McMahon sealed the club’s inaugural Australian 16ft Championship in the early days of 1976. McMahon’s victory aboard Matana ended a frustrating 68-year wait for the biggest prize in 16s racing.
Barnabas and his crew on Manta ran aground twice to drop out of contention, but were delighted to be on hand to see a fellow local claim an historic crown. “We all went over to Perth together and stayed in the same house as Bill and the others so there was a bit of a team feel to it,” Barnabas said. “We’d had a disaster but they sailed a really good regatta and came away with a win, which was very exciting for Manly. “I don’t really know why it took so long to win one but I know we’d come very close on a couple of occasions without winning it. “Bill’s victory really got things going.”
It sure did.
Barnabas – on Manta Marine and then Buckle Toyota – won the next three Australian championships, ensuring Manly won four of the 10 titles decided in the 70s. Manly endured another drought after Barnabas departed for the 18s, not winning again until 1986/87 with ASEA (Gavin Jones). The turn of the century saw a Manly blitz, with multiple winners over the past 22 years. That rich history will be honoured at next month’s Australian 16ft Championships at Manly, with each heat named after a past champion boat.
Matana leads the parade, earning naming rights for the first heat on January 8. Barnabas (Manta Marine and Buckle Toyota) and two-time victors ASEA (Gavin Jones) will be honoured in heats two and three respectively, followed by Otis (Greg Hyde) and the indomitable Fluid Building Services (Clint Bowen) in races four and five. Back-to-back winners Fire Stopping (James Dorron) step up next for heat six, with Brydens Compensation Lawyers, skippered by eight-time national champion Lee Knapton, and Manly Surf n Slide (Dave O’Connor) featuring in heats seven and eight.
The ninth and final heat will be co-hosted by 2019/20 winners Sutech Building Consultants (Daniel Turner) and defending champs Ronstan (Nathan Wilmot) who won the 2021/22 championship. Each skipper has an inscription attached to the heat named in their boat’s honour.
McMahon wrote: “The breakthrough victory in Perth gave every sailor at the club the belief and confidence that a Manly boat could compete and win at the highest level. “It was pretty exciting. We were all locals so knew what it meant to win one. “The first call I made was to my grandfather Arthur Schultz. He was the one who started it all for us and he was really chuffed.” Next month’s regatta will be the first-time heats of an Australian Championship have carried the names of past winners.
“We were looking for a fitting way to celebrate our past national champions and we think this is the most meaningful way to do it,” Manly commodore Matt Triglone explained. “All these names are massive figures in the club’s history and to win a heat named after one of them will be add to the significance of the victory for the current day fleet.”
Australian Skiff Sailing Association president Nathan Edwards added: “This is a wonderful initiative from Manly and really adds something special to each heat of the nationals. “Some of the sport’s greatest names will be honoured and celebrated during the course of the week.”
The nationals will be held from January 7-14
Old Buffers Day is on 13th January
More information can be found at www.manly16s.com.au
Information Links on the Past Champions Here
Words Adam Lucius
Photos Manly Skiff Club and SailMedia