As we draw deeper into the summer months and the humidity in Sydney climbs to epic levels our sponsorship of what has proven to be a tricky 2023/24 16ft skiff racing season is all too quickly drawing past the finishing line.
2023/24 imei 16ft skiff racing
This year, problems for the imei crew started late in the pre-season – not on the water, but on the ski slopes – when we lost forward hand Rob Napper to an incapacitating and painful skiing injury. Rob ripped his pectoral muscle clean off the bone, requiring immediate surgery followed by approximately six weeks of immobilisation in a sling. And on doctor’s strict orders, Rob was told, no heavy lifting, no overhead activity, and absolutely no sailing were permitted during this convalescence period.
As a result, with Rob out and unable to start the season with the crew, imei’s results were a little patchy compared to previous years. Then, to make matters worse, adding insult to injury, a couple of weeks before Christmas a major boat issue was discovered. This involved bending of the hull that caused a loss of rig tension which was severely impacting the boat’s performance. Getting this fixed was critical, so the boat had to be shipped to Melbourne for a complete rebuild.
16ft skiff racing in January
Come the New Year, the crew got the boat back and were ready for action when confidence levels were boosted significantly with Rob’s valiant return, getting back onboard the 16-footer well ahead of his original recovery time. So, in early in the New Year, when the Australian Championship kicked off with a breezy invitation race at St George on 6th January, the imei crew were hopeful of a truly competitive finish.
The regatta though proved a tough test and while Rob survived, he did struggle a little for match fitness amid very stiff competition. In the end the crew managed a top-10 place.
While they were a little disappointed with the season overall, it’s still a commendable achievement given the setbacks they faced both on and off the water. No doubt, a period of reflection will follow, and the crew will take the significant learnings on board into the next series of races.