Well, was that worth the wait or what?!
It’s all said and done. The racing sails have been dropped, rolled up and put back into storage after what has been one of the most spectacular gatherings of the Australian Hobie Family in over 50 years. Across the 10 day extravaganza, the true meaning of “having a bloody good time” couldn’t be more evident; and it’s without a wind-shadow of a doubt that the Hobie Class, here in Australia, is here for the long haul.
A massive thank you must firstly go out to our sponsors: Hobie Asia Pacific, whose support is truly second to none; The Jervis Bay Brewing Co., who created a wonderful atmosphere and provided the beverages for sailors and punters alike; The Vincentia Country Club, for hosting the Hobie Family and putting up with our antics on Preso’ Night; Vaikobi, for some of the slickest hats, coolest prizes and our flash, new leaders bibs; and Kel Campbell Petroleum, for keeping out support boats out on the water.
Finally, the team at the Vincentia Sailing Club. There is no other club in Australia that could have pulled off the 50th Hobie Cat Nationals. Over the last three years, the VSC team have been meticulously planning this event, persevering through bushfires, lockdowns and border closures to ultimately pull off one of the greatest Hobie Nationals in 50 years.
Over the 2022-23 New year Period, there were no other National Championships quite like ours. Across eight days of glorious sailing, a grand total of 130 boats competed on the iconic waters of Jervis Bay, NSW. With 5 x Hobie 17s, 4 x Hobie 18s, 8 x Hobie 14-Turbos, 5 x Hobie Dragoons, Tigers & Wildcats, along with 42 x Hobie 16s, and a record-breaking 52 x Hobie 14s.
Before we get into the ins and outs of the Nationals, we must acknowledge the stats within the 130 entrants, and most significantly, the largest ever Women’s Contingent at an Australian Hobie Cat Nationals. A grand total of eleven Hobie 16 Women’s teams hit the water during Series 2 for the largest Women’s Hobie 16 National Championship in Australian History. Five of which were sailing in their very first Nationals, along with another five teams qualifying for their own Masters Division.
Additionally, four females competed in the Hobie 14 Open Championship, where three-time Hobie 14 Women’s World Champion, Georgia Warren-Myers, finished eighth overall. Finally, two out of the three Dragoon teams were all-female, consisting of back-to-back National Champions, Matilda Morris & Emily Chiu from Somers Yacht Club, and first time competitors, Zoe Ellis & Jillian Raftery, from Vincentia Sailing Club.
In the Hobie 16 fleet, across Series 1 & 2, twelve teams out of 42 were couples, not including Kerry & Andrew on the Tiger. Additionally, another twelve teams in the Hobie 16 open fleet were parent/child team-ups, the highest placed of which was the Waterhouses, Rod & Bridget. Meanwhile, in the Hobie 14 fleet, 17 of the 52 boats were Masters (over 45); additionally, another 10 were Grand Masters (over 55). Both contingents could be considered regattas in themselves.
To say the Hobie 14 has had a resurgence over the last few years is an understatement. The Age of Resurgence the Hobie 14 has seen is something that is truly extraordinary. Much like its older sister the Hobie 16, the Hobie 14 offers a simplistic, yet entertaining approach to recreational sailing, whilst also providing some of the most competitive, diverse and fairest, one-design racing in not only Australia, but the entire world. With brand-new boats still continuing to hit the water, right from Perth to Pittwater, it’s only onwards & upwards from here!
And who knows … maybe, just maybe, we’ll get a Hobie 14 World Championships here in Australia one day…
Now, I would like to say that I’m going to try my best to keep this Match Report strictly business. Predominantly due to the fact that Elisabeth, Bridgey, and the rest of the Totally Immersed TV crew were getting the behind the scenes scoop throughout the Nationals. But, as we very well know, that may go out the window pretty quickly.
With a pearler of a long-range forecast on the cards for the first series, and the Vincentia Sailing Club’s Round the Bay Rally a glorious success, the 42-strong fleet of Hobie 16s were looking to have one of the most red-hot, interstate competitions we’ve seen at a Nationals since North Haven, 2018.
The first day of sailing brought Baliya, the nor’ east sea-breeze, in her finest form. Three races were held on the first day before Baliya truly kicked in with a solid 25 knots at the top mark. Rob Andrews and his spectator crew on the ketch, Jaygo, were provided world class sailing entertainment as offset rounding intensified in conjunction with the breeze.
The World Champions, CamO & Suz, were sitting on top after the first day, with two bullets and a second. MB & Worsty were on the move, sitting second overall with a bullet, a second and a sixth to count. Meanwhile, becoming one with the breeze, Cam & Nomes were going bow-to-bow with Tacka & Bella, both finishing on 10 points after the day’s sailing.
Also proving they were in it for the long haul, Andrew & Andrea travelled the furthest for their campaign, along with Phil & Caitlyn Epps, all the way from Geraldton for their time on the water. Additionally, the Queenslanders, Phil & James Kellond-Knight were always finding their way up the front of the fleet, as were Geoff & Tim from Somers, pairing up for the first time at a Nationals.
The Hobie 14-Turbo were one’s to watch, with Upu, Igor and Andrew all going hell for leather up the front of the fleet. Meanwhile, Doogie was proving he was back on the bandwagon out on trapeze, but no one could look past Zoe & Jill, who’s determination would see them sail in the wildest nor’easter they’ve seen on home waters.
The Wave Challenge
As one of the most infamous challenges to greet the Hobie Family, the VSC’s Wave Challenge consists of a short beach sprint, before pairs of experienced (or inexperienced) sailors go head-to-head for a 400m sprint on the Hobie Wave. Battling three-foot wind chop and a 25+ knot sea-breeze that would blow the socks off a centipede.
Twenty teams of two, one on the main, one on the helm, fought it out before a round of eight. The semi-finals saw locals, Paddy & Bridgey, take on their arch-rvials, Bryn & Elisabeth, whilst the Waterhouse duo, Rod & Bridget took on the old boys MB & Gav. In the hotly contested grand final between Bryn & Elisabeth and the Waterhouses, Rod and Bridget inevitably took out the title.
Stay tuned for Totally Immersed TV’s coverage of the Wave Challenge and more via the Hobie Class Australia Youtube Channel.
The second day of racing saw a change in conditions with Mirin-Gurugama, the sou’ westerly, bringing in shifty and gusty conditions for our sailors. Four races were held in total, providing ample opportunity for teams to move up and down the ladder. MB & Worsty, along with Cam & Suz maintained their overall positions with consistent results, whilst Dazzy & Claire progressed up the table to lock in the orange jersey for the next day.
Fletcher & Georgia claimed a bullet in the sixth heat, as the Pelican & Brody, Arbi & Ellie, along with Gav & Jimmy, moved up the ladder with a few keepers. Likewise, in the Hobie 14-Turbo fleet, Hatto moved into third with two bullets in the sixth and seventh heat. Jon Sims continued his hot-streak in the Hobie 17s, finishing the day in first, whilst Jakey & Alannah finished the day in first for the Hobie 18s, with three bullets and a second.
Series 1 – Day 3
Unfortunately, due to a consistent drizzle and a severe lack of breeze on the Moona Moona, the waters of Jervis Bay, racing was canned. Luckily for us, however, Mads was onsite filling in for Paddy as she sat down for a yarn with the ANHCA President & Secretary, Cam & Nomes, along with Hobie 16 hotshots, Dazzy & Claire.
The final day of sailing saw a slow start to the morning, bringing back some deja vu for the members of the Family who’d sent it over in Spain. Alas, the ‘hurry up & wait’ protocol ended swiftly as Baliya began to fill in from the other side of the Bay. Hooper and his merry band pulled off three heats in pure champagne sailing.
Upu Kila solidified his overall win with a bullet in the eight heat, whilst Igor Prado finished his inaugural Nationals with two bullets in the ninth and tenth heat. Following suit, Craig Hatton placed third with two seconds to close out the day. Anglesea local, Jon Sims, took out the Hobie 17s convincingly with a 13 point lead of Stefan Ochsenbein, whilst Hobie 17 great, Ron McDonald snuck his way onto the podium in third.
Meanwhile in the Hobie 18s, Jake & Alannah took home their second consecutive Nationals, followed closely by Brad & Josh, along with Lindsay & Will. The real star of the show, however, was the certified Hobie Legend, Jack Droomer, who with the help of his trusty crew, Patty, completed the Nationals at the spritely age of 78; only having to call the ambulance for a lift home on Day 2.
For the Hobie 16 fleet, it was nothing but pure adrenalin on the race course. Dazzy & Claire got two bullets straight up, whilst Rod & Bridget were back on their a-game with 2 podium finishes. The Victorians, Nigel & Abi, were also getting in amongst it, along with Tim & Elsa and the Palm Beach locals, Dave & Megan.
Meanwhile, Paddy & Will, pulled a rabbit out of a bung hole to round the a-mark in first for the final heat; hitting the boat-end of the line on port after a trip to shore with a shredded mainsheet. However, the boys weren’t fast enough for Anthony & Evelyn, who took home the final race of the series, closely followed by the boys, along with a blinder from Arbi & Ellie.
The Hobie 16 Great Grand Masters saw three teams battle it out; however, Anthony Duchatel & Evelyn Curtis’ consistent approach was just enough to get Phil & James Kellond-Knight over the line. Meanwhile, in the twelve boat strong Grand Masters fleet, Clare & Nick Eastment solidified their greatest result yet, coming in fifth just behind Gav Luxton & Jimmy Winchester. Geoff Rowdon & Tim Chiu claimed their place on the podium, seven points behind Rod Waterhouse & Bridget Bolewski. Whilst Mick Butler & Worst News claimed the Grand Masters & the infamous Fossil Cup.
The Hobie 16 Masters saw thirteen teams compete over the 10 race series. Andrew Boyd & Andrea Falwassar finished in fifth on count-back, knocking back Dave & Megan. Phil & Caitlin Epps finished in fourth, with Fletch & Georgia Warren-Myer’s Rum Runner placing third. Finally, Cam Owen & Suz Ghent claimed the Masters after their World Championships win, only four points behind their weekly training partners, Darren Smith & Claire Bisgood.
The Open fleet saw twists, turns and upsets after the completion of every race, with points only separating most teams all the way up and down the ladder. The local boys, Paddy Butler & Will McKenzie, snuck into the top ten on count-back, besting the Geraldton locals, Phil & Caitlin Epps, on 75 points. Geoff Rowdon & Tim Chiu from Somers finished in ninth on 74 points, whilst Phil & James Kellond-Knight snuck in front of Anthony Duchatel & Evelyn Curtis, finishing with 65 and 63 points respectively.
Team Waterhouse, Rod Waterhouse & Bridget Bolewski came at sixth with 50 points, as Cam Weddell & Naomi Chiu snuck into the top five with 41 points. Fletcher & Georgia Warren-Myers, remaining ever so consistent, placed fourth on 34 points, as MB & Worsty finished with the bronze on 27 points. Finally, Team WA came and cleaned up the podium. Darren Smith & Claire Bisgood finished with the silver on 22 points, whilst the Hobie 16 World Champions, Cam Owen & Suz Ghent, backed up their National Championship in sensational fashion.
As always, the Australian Hobie Nationals Preso’ Night is something unmatched in the sailing world; and this year was something truly special. Totally Immersed TV’s very own Elisabeth Smith, was awarded the ‘Future Hobie Legends Award,’ by none other than Kerry Ireland herself. Additionally, Rudi, Charlotte & Zoe were awarded the ‘Hobie Family’s Sportsmanship Award’ for an exceptional display of the Hobie Spirit.
Carmen & Dee, along with Charlotte & Rose, were both presented with Paddy’s old fibreglass boot for the ‘Bottoms Up Award,’ for spectacularly putting it in the drink. Finally, an emotional presentation from MB & Craig saw the late, great, Richard ‘Quinny’ Quinn, added to the perpetual Hobie Legends Trophy; with the Quinn family, Belinda, Racheal & Natalie, all present to accept the Quinny’s inclusion into the Australian Hobie Hall of Fame.
After a red-hot and dramatically raw fines session, calling out all the acts of stupidity and idiocy practiced both on and off the water, the Hobie Band took to the stage for a night of singing, dancing and pure rock ‘n’ roll. As always, what happens at preso’ stays at preso’. So, for all the backstage action, tune into Totally Immersed TV’s special coverage of the 50th Hobie Nationals in the coming weeks.
As solidified by MB’s perilous new year’s day at a Mooloolaba Nationals all those years ago, a much needed lay day was prescribed for the Hobie Family. However, with another honking nor’easter forecasted for the first day of sailing, it was action stations for the 71 boat fleet. Over the course of the day, Hopper and his team pulled off four hotshot races in nothing short of ‘champagne sailing’.
Matlida & Emily on the Dragoon finished the day with a clean slate, with Zoe & Jillian backing up their stint on the turbo hot on their tails. Phil & Caitlin on the Wildcat were showing dominance; however, Kerry & Andrew’s performance on the Tiger were leaving them in the wind.
Emma & Jemima were strong in the Women’s fleet, with two bullets to count, whilst Meagan & Charlotte were proving they were a force to be reckoned with, after teaming up for the very first time. Likewise, Emma & Hayley were getting the hang of things race by race.
With boat lengths gained and lost at every mark rounding, the gaggle of Hobie 14s were stirring things up on the race course across the four heats of the day. Reigning 16 National Champion, Cam Owen, was king of the mountain by the end of the session, with a bullet and two seconds. Meanwhile, the more experienced Hobie 14 helms, Fletcher Warren-Myers and Paddy Butler, were only points behind, snapping at his heels.
Moving down the top ten, only points separated each helm; and as we moved down the fleet, it was no different. The racing was tighter than Gav Luxton’s tramp lacing – Dave Fisher and Arbi Watt were neck ‘n’ neck, as were Dobbo & Martin Venter, whilst Mai Hordern & Georgii McKenzie were battling it out for second in the Women’s fleet while Georgia Warren-Myers was cleaning up with a flawless scorecard.
The second day saw much different conditions on the Moona Moona, with a light southerly in the morning allowing for one race and a lunch break, before heading out for another two races in the afternoon.
Emma & Hayley were in the groove, snagging a bullet in the first heat of the day. Meanwhile, Meagan & Charlotte claimed the next two heats, putting them at the top of the table. Julie & Bridgey were on fire in the sixth heat, as were Tracy & Ainslie in the seventh heat, whilst Clare & Helen remained consistent to sneak in front of Ellie & Zoe at the end of the day.
Ellie & Zoe, also qualifying as Hobie 16 Youths, sat at the top of the table with a second and two bullets, whilst Lachy & Elisabeth were hot on their heels. Meanwhile, Zoe & Abi had a blinder, with a bullet and two seconds.
Looking toward the Hobie 14s, the Young-Gun, Bryn, was king for the mountain as a point separated himself and Fletcher, whilst Paddy sat another four points behind with a comfortable gap between Worsty and MB. Dazzy and Rod were going bow to bow, as was the Big-Mac and CamO, but nothing could compare to Georgia’s performance with two seconds and an eighth, climbing up five spots on Boydo, Sumner and Zak to name a few.
However, nothing from the day’s racing could compare to what Rowdy had planned on the beach. What should/could be considered an elite olympic sport, “Beach-Wheel-Barrow-Racing” involved teams of two going head to head, running up and down the beach with a set of beach rollers (see images below for visual description).
Leading into a grand final, it was the Pelican & Mr. Fabulous, going hell for leather against The Irishman and Rowdy-Jr. With Rowdy and Mads on the mic, along with Paddy cracking the whip, it was nothing but pure entertainment on the beach for the sailors and punters alike. Totally Immersed TV’s very own, Elisabeth Smith was there to catch all the action; so, stay tuned for the coverage to come.
With a drizzly day of sailing forecasted, there was no waiting around as the intrepid bunch of elite athletes hit the Moona Moona right on time. With four races held in a shifty southerly buster, it was all up for grabs, no matter where you were on the race course.
Jimmy & Brody found their groove finally, with two seconds and a bullet to finish the regatta. Congruently, Naomi & Aria, along with Libby & Charlie, traded a late night for boat speed, as they sent it around the race course. However, Clare & Helen’s performance with three podium finishes shot the local couple up the ladder, leaving them in arms length of Meagan & Charlotte.
When it comes to overall climbers, Georgii McKenzie’s performance throughout the day took her from 38th to 26th. Likewise, Tim Chiu climbed from 33rd to 25th, proving once again that consistency is key. Finally, fresh at his first Hobie Nationals, Andrew Spinelli climbed the ranks to finish the day nipping at the heels of his neighbour, Andrew Warneke.
After a solid day on the water, Baz & Jed claimed the National Championship for the Wildcat, whilst Kerrie & Andrew Driver took home the perpetual Tiger Trophy, solidifying their place in history. Congruently, Matilda Morris & Emily Chiu became two-time Hobie Dragoon National Champions, with Zoe Ellis & Jillian Raftery, along with Tom Chen-Low & Harry Chiu, breathing down their sterns over the course of the regatta.
We are beyond excited to see where these groms go next!
With Jimmy Winchester & Brody Watt having a cracker of a last day, Zoe Morris & Abi Morgan’s performance on the second day of racing was enough to hold the boys off. Likewise, Lachy Owen & Elisabeth Smith, following in their parents footsteps, took home the Youth Nationals in sensational fashion, with Ellie Knorre & Zoe Cairns finishing in second, only two points behind the Western Australians. Saxon Perry, Ollie Hordern, and Noah Skewes all performed admirably in the Hobie 14 Youth fleet, whilst also making a name for themselves in the open fleet. However, with a clean slate, none of the boys (anyone for that matter) were no match for Bryn Robinson-Mills.
Competing as a team at a Hobie Nationals for the very first time, and with a decent resume between the pair to say the least, Emma Rankin & Hayley Fisher were the dark horses of the Hobie 16 Women’s fleet. The pair from Pittwater continued to extend their ability over the three days of racing, making themselves known at the pin end of the line.
The infamous Somers local, Meagan Bursa & Jervis Bay’s very own Charlotte Ellis sailed exceptionally, despite only meeting the day before the regatta commenced. However, it wasn’t enough to get fellow Somers Master, Emma Morris & Jemima Wilson, who claimed the silver on count-back. As the only Grand Masters competing in the Women’s fleet, Clare Eastment & Helen Mills sailed their greatest regatta to date, finishing fourth in the Women’s Championships after backing up a 23rd in the Opens.
Having placed third in the Women’s World Championship in Spain, all eyes were on the Andrews girls; however, due to injury, Haylie was forced to pull out of Series 1. With a Black Flag their Old-Man/Coach on Jaygo couldn’t sway on the last day, the Carmen & Haylie finished in fifth. However, as the youngest skipper competing in the Women’s fleet, sources close to the pair have assured us they’ll be forcing a reckoning on home waters next year.
Four skippers competed in the Hobie 14 Women’s fleet, the largest contingent in recorded Hobie History. Three-time Hobie 14 Women’s World Champion, Georgia Warren-Myers solidified her place in history. Mai Hordern, after finishing tenth in the minor premiership for Hobie 14 Championship Tour placed second, narrowly knocking off current NSW State Champion and local pedigree, Georgii McKenzie. Finally, whether you were on the water or beach, there was no place you could escape the Mads Gillard, whose joyous energy is truly unmatched.
A record breaking 17 boats entered in the Hobie 14 Masters Championship, and from the start of the first sequence, Fletcher Warren-Myers had his eyes on the prize. Likewise, Dazzy Smith for his first venture at a Hobie 14 Nationals held his own in the Masters, besting the likes of Worst News, Cam Owen, and Andrew Boyd.
Likewise, Mick Butler backed up his Title from the Hobie 16s, becoming two-time Grand Masters Champion for the first time. In the 10 boat fleet, Rod Waterhouse comfortably finished in second, whilst Gavin Luxton held off Andrew McKenzie by a single point, as the man who started the Hobie 14 Resurgence in WA, Brad Quatermaine, finished in fifth. Finally, local legend Peter Dobson, locked in his place as Great Grand Masters Champion.
With a 52 boat fleet, the top-10 will always remain elusive to the best of sailors; however, there were those who stood out amongst the gaggle of skippers. Loving nothing more than a typical Jervis Bay nor’easter, Andrew McKenzie’s 84 points was enough to slip him into 10th. However, Rod Waterhouse, back on the new and improved ‘Hot Rod’ was hitting the pin like no other, finishing on 73 points.
As one of the latest entries into the 50th Hobie Nationals, the Australian Hobie 14 Nationals wouldn’t be the same without Georgia Warren-Myers on the race track. Finishing on 66 points, Georgia’s racing on the ‘M’ course was exceptional; however, Worst News’ ‘Fully Sponsored’ vessel from Sunstate Watersports was enough to get home over the line on 64 points.
The Victorian hotshot, Zakky Rowdon brought himself right up the ladder as the breeze backed off to finish in sixth on 59 points; although, it wasn’t enough to catch the WA’s Darren Smith, finishing his campaign on 56 points in fifth. Sources close to Dazzy are saying “we ain’t seen nothin’ yet, bloke!”
Leading into the Nationals, he’d claimed the Minor Premiership for the Hobie 14 class, with a grand total of 85 skippers included in the 2022 rankings; however, Mick Butler finished fourth to none other than the 2017 Hobie 14 World Champion, Fletcher Warren-Myers, with a margin of four points. Only a single point in front of Fletcher, and claiming enough points from his second at the Nationals to finish as the king of the mountain for the 2022 Championship Tour, Paddy Butler was sailing the Hybrid ‘La Cheeki’ high and fast. But quite clearly, not high and fast enough…
Because, making history as the youngest skipper to ever win the Australian Hobie 14 National Championship, he competed in more regattas on the Hobie 14 than any other skipper throughout 2022. Unequivocally spending more time on the water with his Hobie 14 Hybrid ‘Sur Ganji’ (FKA ‘Green ‘n’ Gold’, Mick Butler’s NSW Championship winning boat) than any other skipper in Australia, Bryn Robinson-Mills was crowned a National Champion at just 17 years old, finishing a clean seven points ahead of his weekly training partner, Paddy Butler.
After a larger than life New Year’s Eve celebration, the Hobie Family Band had clocked off; however, Nick Eastment had brought along the decks which only meant one thing: the Hobie mums were chuffed. Brad Sumner & Saxon Perry took home the ‘Bottoms Up Award’, whilst Doogie received the ‘Hobie Family’s Sportsmanship Award’ after ‘SuperCal’ was taken into intensive care after the first day, but still stayed and assisted any sailor that needed it.
With Elisabeth Smith on the helm, Totally Immersed TV was there to capture all the action at Preso’ Night. Some of it you’d love to see, whilst some of it should probably be left out. Nonetheless, fun was had by all, and it was back to Casa Del Grom for an afterparty that would go down in the Australian Hobie Family’s history.
Paddy’s Plain Speakin’
4001 words later, and we’re finally here. For everyone who stuck around, thank you. This Match Report has been a mission, but I was never going to half-arse this one. For one, each and every day of the 50th Hobie Nationals was unique. Whether it be the weather, the sailors, the outfits, or the rampant post-racing activities that brought us all together, each day brought something new to this Nationals.
With such a huge fleet, it’s hard to name each individual sailor out on the water. But, I do hope I have done my best to represent the diversity of the Hobie Family, and the individuals and teams that have made this event what it is.
The Vincentia Sailing Club. How lucky the Hobie Family is to have such a determined and passionate group of people, both sailors and non-sailors alike, put together such a spectacularly memorable event. Three long years we’ve been planning to put this show on, and finally, it’s all over…
But, with the 2023 Championship Year staring us right in the face, it’s time to kick it ‘n’ rip it, my friends. Let’s go and get into it!