2022: What a year, what a lovely year…
After what has been the one of the most successful years for the Australian Hobie Class to date, the 50th Australian Hobie Cat Nationals is shaping up to be something truly glorious; and with over 120 boats and only a few sleeps away, it’s about time we take a minute or two to sit back and reflect on the spectacular roller coaster that is the Australian Hobie Class Championship Tour.
In the summer of 2021, we shared a yarn (where the term – Cowboy Racing – was reintroduced) in anticipation for the NSW Hobie 14 State Championships: a spectacle that saw 35 Hobie 14s hit the start line on the crystal blue waters of Jervis Bay. At the time, this was the largest gathering of the class outside of the Hobie 14 Worlds, and the largest in Australia for well over 30 years.
For the 50th Hobie Nationals, at the time of press, we now have 48 boats entered … talk about an ‘Age of Resurgence‘.
Now, without saying too much, the Hobie Sailor is a curious breed. For one, they know how to make a boat go fast. Concurrently, they understand how to have fun whilst doing it, something we might say is much more important. With a capacity for getting up to mischief, both on and off the water, it’s unequivocal that the Hobie Sailor understands the true meaning of “having a bloody good time”; a concept that is evident at every single Hobie Cat Regatta.
So, in the spirit of last year’s infamous yarn, it’s in our best interest to take a deep dive into the Australian Championship Tour, taking a long, hard look at the multitude of Hobie Sailors that have competed throughout this almighty year. From all walks of life, and all levels of experiences, the Hobie Family’s diversity is one that is truly unique in the sporting world; and by the way it’s looking, it’s only onwards & upwards from here.
In the Hobie 16 Class, a staggering 92 Australian teams have competed at an event this year, whether it was a Club Regatta, a State Championship, or the 23rd Hobie 16 Worlds. Congruently, 72 Hobie 14 skippers have hit the water during a Championships Regatta, and we can assure you that number is only going to grow…
The Hobie Class, like all elite sports, is collated into the Championship Tour Rankings list; and of course, this is always up for debate.
Based off scaled Hobie Class events, and official club regattas that took place throughout 2022, we encourage speculation and an open mind when observing these rankings, as one cannot compare the skill of one Team (16) or Skipper (14) to another, if those Teams/Skippers have not competed in the same number of events. Additionally, one would expect that by competing in more regattas, a Team/Skipper would be more skilled than their counterpart who has only competed one or two events.
With all this in mind, there’s still one question that’s remaining: who will be the 50th Australian Hobie Class Champions?
The Hobie 14s
After the 35 boat fleet that sent it in Jervis Bay during the 2022 NSW Hobie 14 State Championships, the Victorian and Queensland State Championships saw the largest fleets of Hobie 14s seen since the Golden Age; with 20 and 11 respectively. With a nation-wide fleet racing for the 50th Hobie 14 Nationals, and a World Championships looming around the corner, it cannot be argued that the ‘Age of the Resurgence’ is now in full swing right across Australia.
Reaping the rewards of having some of the best eggs from the batch in one basket, it shouldn’t be news to anyone that the boys from Jervis Bay know how to get a boat moving. The Young-Gun, Bryn Robinson-Mills, having scored ‘Sur Ganji‘ (‘On [French] Fire [Dhurga]’), after the Portarlington States, has been setting the water on fire, giving the likes of Andrew McKenzie, Craig Hatton and the Butler Boys a red-hot run for their money.
Bringing the heat from the south, the Rowdy lads, Geoff and Zak, are always there in the mix of things, as is Mai Horden, one of the sailors on the Australian Tour to have competed at a Hobie 14 Worlds. Additionally, David Bent, Luke Crouch & Tim Chiu have been hitting the water regularly, all prepping for the final dance.
Up to the north, Sunstate Watersports’ very own, Gordon McGillvary, is well accustomed to sailing the Hobie 14. But will being back on familiar waters prove an advantage for the mighty South African. Along with Gordon, the likes of Bloody Leon Whitworth has proven to be a formidable adversary on the race track; however, rivalling even the Melbournian is the one and only: Worst News. Jumping on the 14 like a dog to a bone, Worsty proved himself race after race on Moreton Bay, so we can only imagine the sheer boat speed on a blistering nor= easter in Jervis Bay.
Finally, we have the dark horses. The sailors who have not yet competed in a single Hobie 14 regatta this year; however, are highly likely to make a name for themselves on the hallowed waters of Yuin Country. Firstly, we have the pair that started it all: Fletcher & Georgia Warren-Myers. The pair of Hobie 14 World Champions are bringing along with them a bunch of sailors from Torquay, who are all ready and raring to give the Nationals a good crack.
Making a grand return to the class, Rod Waterhouse is geared up with a brand new boat all signed off by the family accountant, Kerry. Migrating across the Nullabor, Peter Redway and Brad Quartermaine, along with Dazzy Smith and Cam Owen. All are set to race at a Hobie 14 Nationals for the very first time; but the real question here is: how will Dazzy & CamO go without Claire and Suzzi on board?
Finally, as a closing statement, over 50 Hobie 14s turning up for the 50th Anniversary of the Hobie Cat Nationals is truly glorious. From an offbeat thought to one of the greatest wave jumping machines of all time, the simplicity our humble 14ft catamaran has to offer, whether you’re racing or playing, is something that is unmatched across the board.
Hobie Sailing is on a precipice. But, here in Australia, it’s only onwards & upwards from here…
The Hobie 16s
Firstly, consistency is key. It’s clear from the top 20-odd boats, and across 13 regattas, that a consistent performance will always put you in a good position overall; whilst additionally providing a Team with the greatest opportunity to adapt and evolve their racing capabilities.
Across the masses, new teams have risen in all shapes and sizes. The Hobie 14 Young-Gun, Bryn Robinson-Mills teamed up with Somers local, Nikki Briggs, to compete in their first open Hobie 16 States in Twofold Bay, NSW. Meanwhile, fellow Jervis Bay locals, Jimmy Winchester & Brody Watt, took on the Bullets at Palm Beach using the infamous red ‘n’ white rags handed down by their fore-brothers, Will & Paddy. Whilst over the other side of the country, Lachy Owen & Elisabeth Smith are gearing up to take on the infamous Hobie 16 Youth Championship, like many grommets before them.
Along with our teams, old favourites were still ripping it up. Anthony Duchatel & Evelyn Curtis made a triumphant return at the Bullets Regatta, claiming a second to mongrels: MB & Worsty. Also from Palm Beach, and not having sailed a Hobie 16 since Florida, 2019, Rod & Kerry Waterhouse, along with the prodigal daughter, Bridget, took home the Grand Masters Cup in Spain back in September. Not only are Rod & Bridget racing in the Australian Hobie 16 Championships, but the word on the water is that Rod has bought himself a brand-new Hobie 14…
Furthermore, we cannot forget about the Teams that have truly “sent it” this year. Conor & Joey have been persistent throughout the 2022 sailing season, making it all the way to Spain for the Semi-Finals of the World Championship. But, showing more growth than any other Team, was Haylie Andrews and her helms: Andrew Warneke & Carmen. Racing on a Hobie 16 in Jervis Bay for the first time since Hervey Bay, 2016, the Skipper not only made the podium with her younger sister in the Womens’ World Championship, but snuck into the Finals with the Pelican by no more than a place; a moment that Team Australia will never forget.
Finally, we have the hotshots. The Teams that have put in the work over the 2022 sailing season, travelling far and wide to compete in some of the greatest events Australia, and the World, had to offer. Back on home soil, Gav Luxton has proven time, and time again, that an old dog still has new tricks. Sailing with Jimmy Winchester, along with Carmen in Spain, and Charlotte Ellis at Palm Beach, the Dog has been going head-to-head with MB all year long. Sailing with Mads Gillard in Twofold Bay, and Worsty at Palm Beach, the ex-World Champ has already claimed two NSW Hobie 16 State Championships in a row. So, where to next?
Fletch & Georgia Warren-Myers need no introduction. Chasing their maiden National Championship on the Hobie 16, the pair are rumoured to have an unbuilt Hobie 16 lying dormant in a quiet corner on Torquay, waiting to be unleashed in Jervis Bay this year. Also keeping it in the family, Peter & Juliet Bates are on fire after a top-10 finish at the Hobie 16 Worlds, along with a fairytale bullet at the Queensland State Championships out of the brown-snake back in May. Having historically been the bridesmaid at their own show, the Bates duo are a force to be reckoned with on the Hobie 16 racetrack, so keep an eye on the boat end; or the pin, who’s to know…
Finally, there must be something special about the Hobie 16, because the greatest Teams Australia has to offer all seem to be together, both on and off the water. Darren Smith & Claire Bisgood, along with your Hobie 16 World Champions, Cam Owen & Suzzi Ghent, are not only West’s finest, but the Great Southern Land’s. Whatever is flowing downstream in the Swan River is working, because Team WA is bringing the heat for the 50th Hobie Nationals, and by the bite of Bailya the nor-east sea-breeze, we’ll be in for a show on Jervis Bay!
The Year That Was…
Over the 2021-22 New Year period, the Vincentia Sailing Club hosted their inaugural ‘Round the Bay Rally’ on New Years Eve, along with the NSW Hobie 14, Women & Youth State Championships w/ Dragoon Nationals. This was a truly spectacular event that was put together in a very short period of time, in replacement for the postponed National Championships.
The VSC have truly set the vibe for the Nationals, with the local legends from the Jervis Bay Brewing Co. setting up shop to keep us all hydrated, and the ever faithful Hobie Asia Pacific parking up the event trailer to keep the spectators happy, we are sure to be in for a good time.
Additionally, in late February the New South Welshmen Hobie 16, Tiger & Wildcat Sailors, along with their great mates from Victoria, were finally able to race in Twofold Bay, Eden, almost three long years in the making. With a blustery Friday afternoon sailing in a honking south-westerly, the sailors were met with two blissful days of nor-east Seabreeze.
The first weekend in March saw close racing at the 2022 Warren Taylor Homes WA Hobie 16 State Championships, hosted by Geraldton Yacht Club. Known for strong winds at this time of year, the city of Geraldton had other plans for the Hobie 16 sailors. There was a mix of conditions over the 11 race series. Both days began with a fading offshore wind with many shifts in direction to keep the teams on their toes. The afternoon sessions saw stronger winds as the faithful sea breeze began to settle in.
A mere week later, over the Victorian Labour Day Long Weekend, the Hobie Family were treated to the delights of the Bellarine Peninsula, and even greater people of the Portarlington Sailing Club. Across three days, only six races were held in what was incredibly tough, tight and dramatic sailing conditions for the Victorian State Championships. A total of 23 Hobie 16 teams were on the start line, but the real stars of the show were the record-breaking 20 Hobie 14s that were registered to compete in the largest Victorian Hobie States in recent history.
Taking place over the May long-weekend, on golden-brown waters of Moreton Bay, the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron put on another spectacular weekend of racing for the Queensland State Championships. 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.
But most significantly, however, was the historic return of the Hobie 14 to the Queensland States. 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.
The 21st Bad News Regatta was as always, an absolute belter of a time. Even though the dream team, Worsty, Deb & Sarah, couldn’t be there for the weekend, their tireless work behind the scenes were monumental in creating one of the mightiest regattas the Hobie Family has seen for a long time. For that, we salute you.
This year’s Baddie saw seven seasoned Hobie 14 skippers hit the start line, along with a dozen Hobie 16s, all looking for a shot at the allusive Baddie trophy. The swell was on the cook, and the wind not so much, but that didn’t seem to stop the merry band of Cowboy Sailors from doing what they do best…
Next on the agenda: a training weekend in Jervis Bay, along with a weekend on fun ‘n’ games in Brisbane, saw the one of the largest contingents from Team Australian in years, send it over to Spain for the 23rd Hobie 16 Worlds.
The true nature of a Hobie 16 Worlds is indescribable. To not be there is to risk the worst case of FOMO ever experienced by an individual. With a vast number of the Australian Hobie Family coming down with the deadly illness over the duration of the three week extravaganza, it can be confirmed that the 23rd Hobie 16 World Championships was bloody extraordinary.
Finally, the first round of the NSW State Championships saw Pittwater dial the breeze up to eleven, as Palm Beach Sailing Club’s ‘Beware the Bullets’ Regatta undoubtedly lived up to its name. Fifteen Hobie 16s and five Hobie 14-Turbos hit the water over the course of the weekend, taking part in what was nothing short of pure Cowboy Sailing.
So, if you’re still in the mood to maintain that hyper energy before the Nationals, check out all The Match Reports in full via the link below:
Paddy’s Plain Speakin’
It’s undisputed that 2022 has been the greatest year for the Hobie Class we have seen in a long, long time.This ‘Age of Resurgence’ we find ourselves in started well before I stepped into this glorified s***-talking role. But for the last 12-months, it has been an absolute pleasure to be sharing a yarn with you all; whether it’s on the page or on the screen.
The 50th Hobie Nationals will be the culmination of not only this year, housing the largest State Championships we’ve seen in years, along with the strongest contingent of sailors to grace the Hobie Worlds for Team Australia. But, this will be the 50th Anniversary of the ‘Hobie Way of Life’ here in Australia. And what a Way of Life it is.
As a class, we are unique. But, it is unquestionable that we are a Family.
A dinghy-parent once said to the Boss (Rebecca Butler), on a glorious morning on Lake Macquarie for the High School Sailing Championships: “oh, your sons are the ones Cowboy Sailing”. In the moment, the Boss swiftly replied: “well yes, my friend, I guess they are”, as two 15-year-old, Jervis Bay locals prepared for a start, where they would later plow through the bow of a Cherub rounding the windward mark…
We are unorthodox, and we are a bit cheeky. The sea is looking a wee bit choppy ahead, but there is one thing that will never be taken away from us: we are the Hobie Family, and this is Cowboy Sailing, baby!
So, for the last time here, this year: I’ve been Paddy, and I’ll be seeing you very, very soon…