Last season couldn’t end quickly enough for the crew aboard Manly 16ft skiff Vaikobi. Inconsistency, poor results and constant crew changes meant it was a summer to forget.
But after a much-needed four months out of the water – and with an important addition at the front of the boat – Vaikobi is ready to leave last season well behind.
Regular Skipper Max Vos and sheethand Alex Chittenden have been joined by bowman Felix Deverio and things are clicking already. An impressive second placing behind Sutech Musto Racing (Harry Price) – and first on handicap – in last Saturday’s fourth pointscore race has the Vaikobi team beaming.
“Last season was a shocker. Max didn’t feel like he did himself justice and I certainly didn’t,” Chittenden admitted. “It was painful. We didn’t enjoy it at all.
“We didn’t have the same bowman more than two or three weeks in a row so the consistency just wasn’t there. “But with Felix joining us, we now have some regularity and a chance to build something.”
In just their second week together, Vaikobi overcame a shocking start to the pointscore race to claw their way back into contention in a gusty 15-30 knot westerly. They moved into fifth before racing past three challengers to clinch second spot.
“We were pretty nervous going out there but just told ourselves to keep things calm and keep the boat upright,” Chittenden said. “Three boats were ahead of us going into the last lap and they all capsized on biggest squalls of the day.
“We stayed on the front foot and didn’t make any mistakes from there and went from fifth to second.” Asked what the renewed aim was for the season, Chittenden replied: “Consistency. We know anything is possible if we keep building on what we’ve started. “To be in that top 10 to 15 is our target.”
While Vaikobi put up a great fight, the race was always in the keeping of Price and his crew aboard Sutech. Price, standing in for regular skipper Daniel Turner, is renowned as a gun for hire and proved it again with a commanding performance, steering Sutech to an all-the-way win.
He was more than three minutes clear of Vaikobi, with IMEI (Nathan Wilmot) and Growthbuilt (Nathan Wilmot) filling third and fourth respectively. Vaikobi won on handicap from Sutech, Growthbuilt and C-Side Surveyors (Jessica Iles). Price paid homage to crew members Matt Stenta and Gus Williams for making his job easy. He said: “Matt and Gus just give a running commentary on where to go and what to do, so my job is easy. “The conditions were pretty gnarly and there was a lot of action out there, but we were having so much fun around the course – it was an awesome race. “I’d love the chance to sail with those guys again but my priority now is to get the shoulder right and get back into it in the new year. “I’m happy not to be committed for a whole season and act as a fill-in where needed.”
Price has previously filled-in for Cunninghams and Growthbuilt, but joked: “I think ‘Ruffy’ (Turner) has me on an exclusive deal only to sail with Sutech from now on.”