Jan 06, 2010 – By Monday morning 4 January, the top athletes at the Australian Hobie Class National Championships 2009/2010 were pretty happy with their performance. It was the midpoint for the windy and exciting four day regatta.
Taylor Booth and Emma Sturgeon, the 2008 Australian National Champions were still in the running for another national title with only a few points between their team and the first place team of Gavin Colby and Sasha Marks. Gavin had taken five years off to pursue his airline career and returned to competition this year. In the top five, Cam Owen was a true warrior, battling the flu and still consistently racing. Despite being weary Cam and crew Susan Ferris showed up in the top ten finishers. Darren Smith and Josie Mark quietly kept their place in the top ten, though Darren didn’t want to say much on the day before the regatta finished.
While many of the best teams have won State, National and World titles and raced with each other for years, there was one surprise, the team of Chris Hancock and James Wierzbowski. They were in the top ten finishers in nearly all of the races and a real threat to the seasoned top-competitors. Chris and James demonstrated great boat handling ability and stamina in the very physical ocean conditions.
The first three days of heavy to moderate wind churned up a challenging swell. A large number of local Western Australia teams participated and found the Mandurah swell was significantly harder to sail in than the flatter and more-serene Swan River. There were some spectacular crashes in the back of the fleet. In the bumpy water and heavy breeze, there were stories of hulls through main sails, bent masts, tangled boats and capsizes. Despite the chaotic racing and collisions, there were no major injuries to the sailors.
The front of the fleet was loving the weather. This regatta had been an endurance test for many of the elite sailors who participated in both the three day Series 1 (Tigers / Youth / Women / Masters) and the four days of Series 2 (Hobie 16 Open).
By the last day, the defending champions, Taylor and Emma, were very tired. They had been sailing for nearly nine days, including arriving early to warm-up and practicing on the lay-day between the two series. Taylor held up his chafed and worn hands and said, “I’ve hardly ever taped my hands in any competition, but after this many days of sailing, I had to.” In Europe this year, Taylor and Emma raced National competitions in France and Germany. Emma commented, “We were doing three days of racing at the European events, instead of four and there was more time between events.”
The National Championship wrapped up on Tuesday 5 January, with light wind and a hot summer morning. The fleet spread out across the course with boats falling from first to last in fading wind or climbing to a finish on a lucky puff of light wind. Many of the sailors enjoyed the change and found the light air to be more relaxing than frustrating.
Part of the National Championship course was visible from the Mandurah / Silver Sands shoreline making this one of the best sailing venues for spectators. The races were run with world-quality precision by the Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club and with support from the Hobie Cat Association Western Australia. The participants and race officials spoke highly of the location, the racing and the hospitality.
The top three champions for the The Hog’s Breath Cafe & Hobie Cat Australasia – Australian Hobie Class National Championships 2009/2010 were (1) Gavin Colby/Sasha Marks, (2) Darren Smith/Josie Mark, (3) Taylor Booth/Emma Sturgeon. Full results are available at http://www.hobiecatnationals.com.au/results/
ABOUT The Hog’s Breath Cafe & Hobie Cat Australasia
Australian Hobie Class National Championships 2009/2010
In addition to the incredible annual sponsorship from The Hog’s Breath Cafe & Hobie Cat Australasia, generous contributions have been made by SailPower Chandlery, ClubMarine Boating Insurance, Intelligent Life Air Conditioning, Amberley Estate Wines and FonteLaura Water. The regatta was organised by the Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club with help from the Hobie Cat Association Western Australia.
ABOUT Hobie Catamarans
The Hobie 16 is a 16 foot / 4.9 m catamaran with two sailors and has been a popular racing catamaran for 40 years. Hobie Cats were born in a surfboard shop in Southern California in 1969 and are named after the designer, Hobie Alter. Numerous Hobie catamarans have been designed over the years with the most popular racing boats ranging from 14 feet to 20 feet in length. The boats are easy to launch from sandy beaches, physically rewarding to sail and popular all over the world.
Shauna McGee Kinney, 2009/2010 Media Contact
Hobie Cat Association Western Australia
(AUS) +61 8 9467-2663 (USA) +1 760 208-4663
Photos available upon request.