The Hobie Family, plus breeze, sunshine and choc tops? The true meaning of having “a bloody good time” couldn’t be more evident!
As always, it was another sensational weekend for the Hobie Family, as we gathered for the 2022 Queensland Hobie Cat State Championships. Taking place at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron on the crystal clear waters of Moreton Bay, and proudly supported by Sunstate Watersports and Cat Covers, the Hobie Family were in for a wild ride as the crowds began arriving on Friday afternoon.
A total of 22 Hobie 16s hit the start line over the weekend, which included some of the top H16 teams from Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia, with two boats coming from each state respectively.
But most significantly, however, was the historic return of the Hobie 14 to the Queensland State Championships. With 11 Hobie 14s racing for the first time in recent history, it cannot be argued that the ‘Age of the Resurgence’ is now in full swing right across the eastern seaboard. Out of the 11 boats, three of the hotshots from NSW made the trip north, along with a lone Victorian to join the fired up Queenslanders at RQYS.
Now, before we get into the good stuff, we’d like to acknowledge that earlier in the year, Jervis Bay witnessed 60 Hobie Cats hit the water for the NSW Hobie 14, Women & Youth State Championships, over 30 of which were Hobie 14s. We did some digging, and this regatta was confirmed to be largest event on the east coast over the Christmas/New Year period.
Whilst only recently, over 40 Hobie Cats, half of which were Hobie 14s, raced in Portarlington for the Victorian States, also the largest Vic States in recent Hobie history. Add on the consistently solid Hobie 16 numbers in Western Australian, and the historic 33 boat fleet in Queensland last weekend, it makes us think that we really do have something special happening here in Australia.
We’ll let you sit with that for a moment…
Day 1 – Saturday
On the eve of the States commencing, a light easterly was forecasted to blow across from Straddie, so in the Hobie spirit, there were a few dusty looking mugs climbing out of tents and swags on Saturday morning.
After a leisurely morning rigging up on the soggy lawns of RQYS, and much of the Family socialising for the first time since Lake Cootharaba, briefing was held in the sunshine, where an overly excited QLD Assoc. President gave the Family a very warm welcome.
So, as the AP went down at 1230hrs, our sailors hit the mariner for a slow, yet social, sail out to the race course.
The highly respected RQYS race committee attempted the first start for the Hobie 14s, although soon it was hastily postponed as it was evident there near to bugger all breeze up at the top mark.
Whilst sailors stripped down out of their gear to reduce the likelihood of over-exhaustion, and the rafting up of cats began to ensue, the one and only Rob Andrews sat in the middle of the fleet, on the bow ‘Jaygo‘, sinking back stubbies whilst the rest of us looked on earnestly.
It wasn’t until the ratbag himself, Worsty, called from his Hobie 14 to Rob, requesting confidently, “Would you like to be my outside assistance manager?”
And with a quick reply of “what do I have to do?”, a crisp, cold Corona was seen entering Worsty’s hand, along with a single instruction: “go sail past the Butler Boy’s and watch them drool!”
So, as the clock struck 1500hrs, it was back to the beach for the Cowboy’s, for what was to be a jolly old afternoon.
Day 2 – Sunday
As our sailors woke to another blissfully muggy morning on the edges of Bris-Vegas, the bell was rung for the first day of quality Hobie Cat racing.
As they left the beach for what was to be three high intensity races, the breeze was only just blowing enough to get the boats out to the overly bumpy race course. This, however, resulted in those who decided to hit up the RQYS Lookout the previous evening, to feel a little more sea sick than usual.
Calling the first race of the series “light” would have been an understatement. So, in fine form, the RQYS team shortened the course, resulting in some very tight finish for both classes.
Darren Smith and Claire Bisgood took out the first race of the series, and was very closely followed by the top-seeded Hobie 16 team, Fletcher and Georgia. Rounding out the top pack was Andrew Keag and Sophie Bates, who was on the front replacing her older sister, Hannah, from the day before.
The Hobie 14 fleet saw the three Vincentians on their Hobie 14 Hybrids make the the most of the light breeze, whilst Gordon McGillivray, and Leon Whitworth, coming off a second in Victoria, Tim Chiu and bloody Worsty were close behind.
As the wind began to clock around to the south and build steadily, the next two races gave our Cowboy’s a taste of the next day, with a solid breeze blowing up from the south.
Dazzy and Claire weren’t so lucky when ‘Ratiki’s’ mast decided to lay down for a little nap. However, Murray Peterson came to the rescue. The Queensland Hobie hero lent the Westerners his 16, which almost looked a bit sus, as he spent the rest of the afternoon on the ‘Jaygo‘, with Rob and the gang, staying overly hydrated for the rest of the afternoon.
Campbell Weddell and Namoi Chiu demolished the second race of the day, along a few waves as witnessed by Rob Branch. Along with Branchy, first-hand witnesses state that Cam and Nomes’ boat speed was so phenomenal, that the force of their (slightly) over 130kgs absolutely abolished each wave they hit, whilst the trusty ‘George‘ continued to plough across the race course.
Narrowly close behind the Victorians was Bella Zanesco and Barny Houk, who came screaming in on starboard to the finish, narrowly missing a combination of half a dozen 14s and 16s.
Worsty’s first day on the race course in 25 years was one to remember, especially when he was caught between Keagy and Sophie to windward, and the ‘Orange Whip’, with Cam and Suz below.
Finally, as the Hobie 14s were rounding the bottom gates for the final time that day, the young Butler on ‘La Cheeki‘, who was chasing his third bullet for the day, was totally unaware of the huge right shift that was hitting the 16s at the top mark. So, as ‘La Cheeki‘ rounded the bottom to port, with Worsty and the Young Gun, Bryn Robinson-Mills, hot on his heals, the race committee sounded the change of course flag, right as all three lonely skippers were jumping out on wire, making the next leg a blinder.
MB sailed off onto starboard, Worsty and Pat sailed out to port, whilst Bryn decided sail right up main street to have a screaming finish in first place, closely followed by PB, Worsty and MB.
The Hobie 16 fleet was one to watch however, with Dazzy and Claire coming out on Muzz’s boat to snag a second bullet for the day, closely followed by the local legends Peter and Juliet Bates, and Fletch and Georgia in third.
However, the highlight of the day, as everyone could agree, was the sail back to shore through the RQYS Marina. Tim Chiu confirms that it was quality tacking practice, as he ducked and weaved alongside Igor during their 20-odd tacks back to base. Meanwhile, Ellie and AJ thought it would be a good idea to get caught between two of the fingers, and drag their way back out to the main road using a the sterns on a number of private yachts. And yet, half the fleet still managed to get a tow into shore behind the trusty RQYS ribs, as well as a dashingly handsome Brad Warneke.
The afternoon was full of laughs and refreshments, as Branchy began calling out all the winners for the positively amazing raffle. This outstanding afternoon wouldn’t have been possible without the support and goodies provided by Sunstate Watersports and Cat Covers. Some came away with sunnies, some with straw hats, another few got some towels and rudder covers. But the most amazing prizes were the tramp covers that funnily enough, Gav Luxton and Bryn both managed to snag for the Jervis Bay fleet back down south.
Day 3 – Monday
Breeze, breeze and more breeze was what met our sailors on Monday. There were a few overly tired looking youngsters wandering around the rigging area, yet all sailors were pumped for the solid four races scheduled that day.
The run out to the start was much quicker this time, with many of the 14s keeping pace with the 16s on the run out to the race course.
The first race started with a bang, with all 14s laying flat of the start, with Worsty, Anthony and Leon finding their feet in the breeze. You’d never think that a dog on water would lay so flat or go so fast, but Worsty made it happen.
The second race of the day was brutal for the 14s, Leon put it in the drink, nosediving right on the start. Meanwhile, Gordy dropped his rig as he was coming in second at the top mark, all whilst Igor was sailing to shore to tie up the jib that was proving to be more of a hassle than fun.
The third race of the day proved to be a struggle for the both the 16s and the 14s. Bryn, on a very rare occasion, managed to put ‘Sur Ganji‘ in the drink a whopping three times during a single race. One time in particular was caught on camera by Dee on ‘Jaygo‘, where his mast narrowly missed the stern of Carmen Andrews and Libby Kirby. Thankfully, only two panels of his crispy new main were covered in the Moreton Bay sludge.
Whilst we are on the topic, Carmen’s shear determination and stubbornness to get around the course and finish the race, despite being DFL, should be highly commended, and truely encompasses the resilience of the Hobie Spirit, and just how bloody competitive some of us can be!
The Pelican himself, Andrew Warneke, made an exceptional decision during the third race to retire when his crew, Charlie, was injured badly during a capsize. Showing the true Hobie spirit, Ellie Knorre and AJ Luxton sailed over to help the pair out, swapping over crews so that the Pelican could get back to the nest safely.
As we all know, the key to a good race is to get a good start. In their inaugural Hobie regatta, Ashleigh Swadling and Josh Franklin were nailing the pin on each buzzer, testing just how low you can truck on a Hobie 16 before it becomes a screaming reach.
Throughout the day in the Hobie 16s, Peter and Juliet, along with Cam and Suz, were dominant in the breeze, as were the other usual suspects. Whilst Lachy and Sharyn, Shane and James Peterson, Gav Luxton and Jimmy the Kid, and Phil Kellond-Knight on the French vessel all had consistent days on the water.
Overall, It was a cracker of a day on Moreton Bay. One that the wordsmith behind this article is still trying to recover from.
Across the seven races, the Hobie 16s saw a total of four teams coming away with at least one bullet, displaying just how tight the racing was.
Keagy and Sophie finished in fifth with 26 points, whilst Fletch and Georgia finished in fourth on 22 points. Dazzy and Claire claimed the bronze on 19 points, with Cam and Suz narrowly in front on 16 points to claim the silver.
The highlight of the podium however, was to be the local legends and one of the most decorated Queensland Hobie 16 teams in this era, Peter and Juliet Bates. It was a particularly special win for the pair, and this is what Juliet had to say:
“This is a shout out to my skipper (and hubbie) Peter who, on the weekend, steered us to a very satisfying win in the 2022 Queensland Hobie Championships at RQYS.
“With very little time on the water this season, and a fleet that included 8 of Australia’s top 10 Hobie 16 teams all itching for some good competition after 2 years with no Nationals, I thought that we would be doing well to finish in the top five.
“Unbelievably, after 7 races, we finished 1st on 12 points, and with a four point lead to second place.
“Despite a busted knee and a torn rotator cuff muscle (that he is trying to ignore) Peter managed to get us around the race-track in consistently good shape.
“We have been bridesmaids in this event more times than I can remember, and only won twice before, so this was a satisfying result.
A huge thank you to our many ‘Hobie family’ friends for traveling such long distances, particularly the rock-stars from WA, Victoria and NSW.
“And also, to every single one of the competitors who made me feel incredibly proud when, at the presentation, the PRO mentioned that we are the only fleet he has encountered in which every boat sailed through the finish line and thanked the volunteers for their efforts.
“And a final thank you to everyone else who helped to make this mini-Nationals such a great regatta – the Queensland Hobie Class Association (capably led by Rob Branch), the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron team members for their excellent race management, facilities and coverage of the event, and Sunstate Watersports (Sunstate Hobie) and also Cat Covers for generously donating so much wonderful merch for prizes.”
In the Hobie 14 fleet, the younger Butler lived true to his mantra that weekend of “higher, further, faster” and managed to knock off the old boy for the first time in 12 months. MB, who displayed a valiant performance on his new Hobie 14 Hybrid, ‘Green Meanie‘, finished with a single point in front of the Young Gun, Bryn.
However, the true standouts of the fleet are the fine gentlemen who are only just getting started. Gordon sailed magnificently on the factory fresh Hobie 14, showing just how much boat speed he can put to use when he gets some clean air off the start. Leon, coming off his second in Victoria has proven he is a force to be reckoned with. Whilst Worsty, of all the Cowboy’s in the world, took to his 14 the same way he’d take to a rum and coke.
Tim Chiu from Victoria has proven his boat handling skills, and all the sailors know it. It’s now time to put what he’s learnt this weekend, along with Igor and Anthony, into practice so they start knocking the Vincentians off the podium.
However, a special acknowledgement goes out to Mackenzie Kirkley, Riley House and Brynn Williams, and their team mates, who all competed in their very first Hobie regatta. It was an absolute joy to see so many new faces join in on the fun and we all sincerely hope we will see you at another Hobie regatta very soon.
Last but definitely not least, thank you to Rob Branch, Julie Keenan and Bill Kirkley, along with the entire team at RQYS for putting on such an exceptional weekend of sailing in some particularly tricky conditions. We are beyond excited to be back again in 12 months time.
Full Photo Gallery coming soon to the 2022 Queensland Hobie Cat State Championships Webpage.
Finally, on a personal note, I would like to sincerely thank you all for the positive feedback that we’ve been receiving for the Hobie Class lately, and too all of you that tune in for the Match Reports for each Hobie Regatta.
Both Suz Ghent, and myself, hope that by telling these tales (both tall and true), the Hobie Family, and wider sailing community, can get a sense of the absolute fun, camaraderie, mischief and most importantly, the quality of Hobie racing that we have here in Australia.
But most significantly, we want to share how undoubtedly unique Hobie Regattas are, and to entice you all to come along to the event with the Hobie Family.
So, until then … be seeing you soon, Cowboy Sailor.