"To win a race at Manly is a great achievement"

They call them the national championship but Manly has made the Australian 16ft Skiff Championship its own for more than a decade.

Manly boats have stood at the top of the podium in eight of the last 11 years.

Brydens Lawyers (Lee Knapton) have won the last three titles, Fluid Building Services (Clint Bowen saluted three times and Fire Stopping went back-to-back with former skipper James Dorron at the helm in 2007/8 and 2008/9.

With 13 Manly boats set to face the starter's gun for next month's nationals on Lake Illawarra, there is every chance the amazing run will continue.

Manly 16ft commodore Grant Windsham is justifiably proud of the club's dominance.

"If you look at the record books before this run began, you'll see a long period where Manly boats didn’t figure in the top standings at the nationals," he said.

"Other clubs from NSW and Queensland held the trophy for a long time in the late 90s and early 2000s.

"Clint's breakthrough win in 2005/6 started the current roll we’re on and now Manly is the club to catch rather than the ones doing the catching."

Asked why Manly was so dominant, Windsham didn’t hesitate.

"I think it's because each and every week the fleet at Manly is so competitive," he said.

"Every Saturday there are boats and sailors out there that have won state and national titles.

"To win a race at Manly is a great achievement and it holds you in good stead when the big regattas come around."

In-form Fire Stopping (Joe Turner) is one of the favourites for the nationals and received a good tune-up with victory in the club sprint series on Saturday.

Turner won the final two races in the four heat series to claim victory in a flukey westerly, with the consistent Fluid second and Brydens Lawyers (Gerard Smith) third.

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Michael Chittenden

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