The Hobie Way of Life visits picturesque Esperance in the south of Western Australia
Holding the championship event over the Easter long weekend encouraged teams to travel the eight hour journey with their families to do some sightseeing and enjoy a post event holiday.
The host club, Esperance Bay Yacht Club have a skilled team of enthusiastic race management volunteers and they run a great regatta. Local Race Officer Stewart Wallace and his team worked alongside class Race Officer Paul Davis. They ran a full series of twelve races over the two days timing finish of the final race just perfectly as the breeze became quite strong mid afternoon on the Sunday.
At the race briefing Hobie Class Association of WA President Jason Spencer announced a new competition within the event and split the fleet in to two teams. He named the two team leaders as Andy and Anna Preyer and Trevor Hughes / Elisabeth Smith and the team with the best combined score would be crowned the winners. This would be a bit of fun and added to the camaraderie and friendly rivalry of the event.
The first session of three races was held in a moderate wind and racing was tight. Brad Quartermaine / Tayla Woodhead had a strong start to the series picking up a third, fourth and an equal third with Jason Spencer / Colleen Lutz. Local EBYC team Paul Galloway / Lachie Kerr had a consistent day including three 6th places even as the wind strength increased for the afternoon session. At the end of the day it was current champions Cam Owen / Susan Ghent who led overall from Darren Smith / Claire Bisgood. With five wins and a second place on the scoreboard for Cam and Susan the event was only mid way and the title was certainly not secured. Several teams had been collecting consistently good scores it was hard to get a safe points advantage, just one mistake and the podium places could easily change.
Trent Robson / Natalie Hill went in to the second and final day of racing in third place overall with 19 points after one discard. Jason / Colleen had 23.5 tied with Brad / Tayla. Not too far behind was Matthew Faulkner / Ben Raven, the team had been sailing well and with the forecast for very strong winds in the afternoon, one of their strengths as a team, they were within reach of the podium places.
It was great for the class to have so many youth sailors taking part. There was one fully youth crew helmed by Lachy Owen (15) with Nick Parker (15). The boys had a great go on day one and finished two races. Lachy went out to crew for Nick’s Dad Gavin Parker, champion F18 sailor, in a few races where conditions were a bit tough for the young team. This helped to build Lachy’s confidence as a helm and he and Nick were competitive on Sunday morning placing ahead of experienced teams in strong winds.
Sailing very consistently through the event was Phil King with Annika Pennifold (19) as crew. They finished the event in tenth place overall with 85 points ahead of Mark Landwehr / Michael Verrall and these teams placed fourth and fifth overall in the Grand Masters division. Two very inconsistent teams were Rod Hodgkin / Lucy Bromell and Glenn Fairey / Natalie Eldridge. Rod would be pleased with a third place in one of the races and third overall in the Grand Masters. Glenn managed to score a second place in the final race in quite strong winds and a challenging sea. He placed eighth overall ahead of Rod.
The Grand Masters division was closely contested by Brad / Tayla and Matthew / Ben. The skill of Matt and Ben in the stronger winds saw them collect two division wins in the end to wrap up the event and take out the championship. Matt and Ben have been sailing together for over 20 years and it’s great to see this mate-ship, something that is strong in the Hobie Cat fleet around the world.
For the top three overall in the Open division the gate mark turn really came in to play in the morning session providing a challenging decision. If Cam / Susan or Darren / Claire made an error Trent / Natalie or Jason / Colleen were poised to take the place. But at the lunch time break the podium was sealed with Cam and Susan managing to defend the title.
Cam / Suz and Dazz / Claire continued to race in the afternoon, it was an exciting display of Hobie Cat racing and a lot of fun for the competitors. For the final two races in strong winds and rolling waves Cam and Susan showed well established boat handling skills in the challenging conditions, a result of racing in many Hobie Cat events around the world which they hope to be able to do again soon.
The teams event was won by Trevor and Elisabeth’s team.
The Hobie Cat fleet brought a new splash of colour and the Hobie Way of Life to Esperance Bay, racing in front of town in view of the new Esperance Jetty. Competitors thoroughly enjoyed the event and thank EBYC Commodore David Swan and his Club team for hosting the Hobie Cat class. The efforts of all volunteers is thoroughly appreciated especially Paul Galloway and Georgia Ryan the local class representatives who put so much in to running a fantastic regatta.
Visit the event website hcawa.org.au for more information on the class in WA. View the event on social media including daily videos, images, results and news updates with @HobieCatsWesternAustralia
Hobie Class Association of WA
Images by Drew Malcolm Photography, full event gallery available online