Cloudy with a chance of breeze?
Welcome, Hobie Sailors, to what was another glorious weekend in the Sunshine State for the Queensland Hobie Cat State Championships. With newcomers and regulars to the Hobie Class alike plentiful on the waters of Quandamooka Country, along with past champions from the West and the South migrating to Bris-Vegas for the weekend, there were copious amounts of energy radiating from the Hobie Family over the long weekend.
Coordinated by the Queensland Hobie Cat Association, in conjunction with the highly experienced team at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, the event was proudly supported by local Brisbane business Yacht Share who will continue their support of the Queensland Hobie Class into the 51st Australian Championships. Likewise, the unwavering support from Gordon and the team at Sunstate Watersports was instrumental to the regatta, along with Gill Australia and Cat Covers all providing amazing prizes for the Hobie Family.
’22 saw eleven Hobie 14s hit the start line. This year, four of those sailors returned for a stab at the title for the second time since the Hobie 14’s Resurgence. As such, seven Cowboy Sailors – four of which sailing in their first Championship event on a Hobie 14 – hit the water for their very first crack at the Queensland State Championship.
The Hobie 16s saw a grand total of 24 boats on the water competing in the seven-race series. With brand new faces, along with some of our favourites spread throughout the fleet, the most notable aspect of this Championship event was the seven Youth Hobie 16 teams competing in the open fleet. Not since the 50th Hobie Nationals have we seen a larger collection of energetic and skilled sailors on the race course, all aiming for their shot at glory.
The three-day event kicked off in the regular Hobie fashion: the interstate travellers arrive on location bright and early, to be greeted by the locals who are running around tying up loose ends. Branchy could be seen on the phone, madly running around on a mission, Mick Butler & Gav Luxton could be heard from the Pacific Highway as they powered into Manly with five Hobie Cats on the triple-stacker, whilst Charlie Tonks took the reigns for Totally Immersed TV on the eve of her eighteenth birthday as she made her way to Brisbane to pick up the Smith Clan: Dazzy, Claire & Elisabeth.
Afterwards, a semi-late night is consumed with filling in the Family on the latest news from the last regatta; a session of reminiscing on what Championship Tour has already produced; followed by a game of cards or a quiet conversation where we anticipate the events of the weekend to come.
As the game day rolled around, it was an early start for the cohort as the masses descended upon the lush, green rigging lawn of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. The Peterson clan were on the scene early, with Murray & Shane both setting up their boats for maximum power as their fresh-faced crews, Maddie Wendt & Tom (the youngest from the mob) leading the charge. Dave & Brianna Vincent, who had made their way north from Southport, were on the lawns ready and raring to go, as was Phil & James Kellond-Knight who were fashionably late as ever.
Branchy kicked off the briefing with the iconic baritone we’ve all come to recognise, before the Race Officer for the weekend, the one and only, Mr David Brookes, made one thing clear: “Read the sailing instructions”. And with that, it was time to hurry up and wait … something the RO and Team Australia are all too familiar with.
With amass of clouds gathering throughout southeast Queensland and flags flying limply from above, the prospect of racing began to diminish. However, as the anticipation continued after lunch, all eyes were on Charlie Tonks who began to celebrate her birthday in the best way possible. Not at all influenced by the likes of Andrew Warneke & Paddy Butler, the celebrations continued into the evening after the racing was finally postponed until Sunday.
As the afternoon turned into the evening, YachtShare and the RQYS team put on a treat for our elite athletes with a Mexican Fiesta-themed night of tacos, nachos and margaritas; what more could one want on the opening night of a State Championships?! With sailors of all ages mingling amongst the crowd, the time came for the Charlie and her merry band of followers to make their move…
As the sun rose across above North Stradbroke, and across the bay to where our not-so-well rested elite athletes were beginning to rise, a cool, light westerly could be felt blowing consistently through the palm trees surrounding the mariner. Waking up to the smell of bacon and eggs frying on the BBQ, Carmen Andrews dragged the Charlie Tonks out of bed, still wrapped in an oodie, and dragged her down to RQYS for the first day of racing.
With Mr Brookes sending the fleet off the ramp right on schedule, Gavin Luxton proved once again that an old dog still has new tricks, coming away with a blinding bullet in the first heat. Likewise, Shane & Tom Peterson took on the fleet and came away with the win, as Branchy & Jo Keen, along with the Bates duo, were hot on their heels.
With Paddy Butler and Bryn Robinson-Mills jumping on the Hobie 16, led by their super-crews Hannah Bates and Bridget Raftery respectively, there was an opening to take out the Championship on the Hobie 14. As the hottest in the fleet, Butler Sr. and Waterhouse Sr. were sure bets to go head-to-head on the race course. Commencing their campaign with a fourth and a fifth in the first heat, the pair swapped positions in the next two races, both coming home with three points adding to what will be both their drops.
Bloody Leon Whitworth showed some promise with a second in the first heat. As did Andrew Peterson, James Rhodes and Gordon McGillivray, all coming away with a podium finish in the three races of the day.
In the Hobie 16s, Branchy & Jo finished the day at the top of the table with a bullet in the second heat, whilst finishing second behind the Bates’ in the final race. The Kellond-Knight boys showed consistency in the light air, with a second behind Branchy in the second heat, whilst Dazzy & Claire struggled to catch the home-grown talent as they look to better their bronze medal from the ’22 Championship.
The Big Fella, Andrew Keag, was back to his antics with the Victorian powerhouse Naomi Chiu on board. The pair were sailing consistently throughout the day in fickle conditions. Likewise, the locals were proving they could make ends meet in the westerly, with RQYS Rear Commodore, Curtis Skinner & Sash Ryan (Olympic Silver Medallist Will Ryan’s more talented sister), coming away with a fourth and a seventh in the first and third heats. In addition, Kris Bilston and Addison Lester locked in a fifth in the opening race, whilst Riley House & Bella Wilson finished the day with a third, sneaking in front of Shane & Tom.
Mr Brookes’ decision to abandon the fourth heat was welcomed as the nor’easter began clashing with the westerly in the middle of the course. As a result, a drifting race was initiated back to the mariner where the Pelican began flying around, searching for the more scrawny members of the fleet to weigh in after the day. Of which, Bryn & Bridget were tied equal first in the Youth fleet alongside Riley & Bella, and Kris & Addison.
Closing out the day’s proceedings, the Queensland Assoc. gathered together to discuss where Hobie Sailing in the Sunshine State was headed for the future. All we can say is that with the number of new faces and young blood sitting in the RQYS conference room, it’s only Onwards & Upwards from here…
As a welcomed sight for a well-rested fleet, the fraternity was met with a far stronger westerly blowing across Quandamooka Country. Consequently, there was no mucking around as the butterflies began hitting the water in a dazzling display of colour, speeding through the forest of masts that made up the largest marina in the southern hemisphere.
The first heat started off with a bang, as Peter & Juliet stole a bullet from Dazzy & Claire on the last downwind, as Phil & James caught Paddy & Hannah on starboard on the finish, locking in a third. The second heat saw Keagy & Nomes claim their first bullet, as Dazzy & Claire and Peter & Juliet continued to prove their dominance in the fleet.
Rod Waterhouse & Mick Butler continued to battle it out throughout the day, swapping bullets after Rod’s initial third place over the line in the first heat. Bloody Leon displayed flawless start sequences throughout the day, claiming a pair of thirds in the second and third heat of the day.
Andrew Spinelli, all the way from Jervis Bay, showed strong improvement in his first Queensland State Championship. In addition, fellow Vincentian, James Rhodes, continued to find his form on the Hobie 14 Hybrid, placing second in the first heat of the day. Meanwhile, Gordon’s quick trip over to Green Island didn’t hinder his ability to sail consistency in a tight and highly competitive fleet of Hobie 14s.
Shane & Tom, Lachy & Sharon, and Bryn & Bridget all showed promise jagging results in the top-10, whilst Pelican & Elisabeth, Carmen & Haylie, and Dave & Brianna all clawing at their heels. Likewise, Ellie Knorre & Zoe Cairns continued to show they’ll one’s to contend with as the Championship Tour grows, as will Lachy Owen & Jimmy Winchester who took it in turns on the helm throughout the weekend.
Dazzy & Claire continued to maintain consistency as the breeze began to fade, claiming the third heat of the day as their own. Meanwhile, Branchy & Jo decided to head to the opposite way to the fleet on the second lap, and with Bryn & Bridget playing follow the local, finished second and third respectively. Whilst the last heat for the series went the way of the Bates’, as Branchy & Jo and Dazzy & Claire came in behind them, with Paddy & Hannah and Lachy & Sharon closing out the top pack.
Donated by Peter & Juliet Bates, the Rookie Award goes to the best-placed team competing in the inaugural State Championship. This year, Kris & Addison took out the prestigious title, placing ninth overall and beating Bryn & Bridget by two points. Meanwhile, as a way to remember the mariners we have lost, the Legends Award goes to the team who takes out the first race. And this year, that was the father/son duo: Shane & Tom Peterson. Finally, making it’s way around the country, the Bottoms Up award goes to the sailor(s) who may have put it in the piss but persevered nonetheless. For the Queensland States, it was none other than Mick ‘No-Bung’ Butler.
The Hobie 16 Masters saw Keagy & Nomes take out the top spot with a dominant scorecard, whilst Dave & Brianna came in second along with Julie & Casey rounding out the podium. They may be old, but far from obsolete, the Hobie 16 Grand Masters were clearly the fastest sailors on the race track. Dazzy & Claire finished with the bronze, as Branchy & Jo finished second to Peter & Juliet, claiming the title for a second consecutive year.
The Hobie 16 Women’s saw four teams battle it out. Carmen & Haylie Andrews continued to prove they’re a team not to be trifled with, placing 11th in the Open fleet whilst taking out the Women’s Championship. Ellie & Zoe finished the weekend as the second-placed women’s team, as well as finishing 19th in the Open fleet. Proving it was all down to the last race, Julie & Casey finished third and 20th in the Open fleet, as Libby & Charlie finished the weekend as the fourth Women’s team and 21st in the Open Championship.
The Hobie 14s saw James Rhodes in his first Championship event in the class, steering the ’22 winning boat to a fifth overall. Bloody Leon Whitworth proved he’s still in the thick of it, finishing in fourth just five points short of Gav Luxton who finished with the bronze medal on 22 points. With only two points to spare going into the last race, Mick Butler managed to keep the margin small enough between himself and Rod Waterhouse, taking home the gold this time around. However, with racing as tight as it was, who knows who’ll reign supreme at the next Championship event…
Making up the top five in the Hobie 16s, Phil & James Kellond-Kinght finished the weekend only three points behind another father-son duo: Shane & Tom Peterson. Ten points in front taking the bronze back to the vast land in the west was Darren Smith & Claire Bisgood, on 19 points. Showing consistency on home waters, Branchy & Jo Keen sailed their way to second on 15 points, whilst Peter & Juliet took home the Championship for a second year running on 12 points.
Finally, we turn to the Hobie 16 Youth fleet, filled with seven stellar teams who are no doubt going places in the years to come. On the oldest vessel in the fleet, Daniel Innes & Tara Hill sailed valiantly in their first Hobie Event on Excalibur. Sailing in their third event as a team, Ellie Knorre & Zoe Cairns finished the weekend in style as the only Women/Youth team competing. Jumping off the Nacra 15, Kenzie Gargan & Gian Bilston finished a single point behind Lachy Owen & Jimmy Winchester. The boys were only a last-minute pairing, but both proved they were able to outmanoeuvre some of the best on the course, swapping the helm throughout the weekend.
Sailing consistently on home waters, Riley House & Bella Wilson continued to demonstrate their potential as a team; and we wish them the best of luck in Europe later this year competing on the Nacra 15. Kris Bilston & Addison Lester, who teamed up for the first time this weekend sailing superbly at home, battled it out with the Young-Gun(s), Bryn Robinson-Mills & Bridget Raftery. Finishing two points ahead on the overall standings, Kris & Addison placed second in the Youth Division, to Bryn & Bridget. For Bryn, it’s another Youth Championship under an already tight belt; and for Bridget, her second Youth State Championship (previously w/ Carmen Andrews in NSW ’23) is looking to be another early edition to a long and fruitful Hobie sailing career.
However, with all this good news, there’s sure to be some Bad News to come…
Paddy’s Plain Speaking
To see so many youth Hobie 16 teams racing once again is absolutely glorious. With the numbers we have seen in Victoria and NSW, there is no other catamaran class that offers such stellar competition on the water for young people, whilst fostering true friendship between the athletes on the shore.
The Hobie Class is unique that partners, parent & child duos and siblings are the most common combinations we see on the water.
But from my personal experience, ditch the old-man and sail with your mates! You’ll not only have the most fun on the water you’ve ever had, but you’ll learn a lot about racing as a team; plus, I guarantee you’ll learn something new about yourself as an individual along the way.
However, in saying that, if a Hobie 16 World Championships comes up … go ahead and get the band back together. You may just find that what you’ve picked up sailing with your mates, may just help you and the old-boy have a damn good crack…
By Paddy Butler