Situated just a short drive south of Perth, the waters of Cockburn Sound will be a flurry of colour this weekend when The Cruising Yacht Club hosts the 2023 Hobie 16 WA State Championships. Racing will be held in the bay within view from the Rockingham beachfront and with strong southerly winds forecast the Hobie 16 fleet is sure to put on a great show.
So far, twenty-seven teams have entered the event. All teams will race together for the overall open fleet results as well as divisions for Masters, Grand Masters, Great Grand Masters, and Youth. The WA association allows teams to be scored in only one additional division.
The WA State event will include eight sailors who placed in the top ten teams in the Open fleet at the 2022 Hobie 16 World Championships. This includes current World Champion team Cam Owen / Susan Ghent and two times World Champion Gavin Colby who currently holds the WA title.
Their regular rivals, Darren Smith and Claire Bisgood placed third at the recent World Championships and with several WA and Australian titles to his name, Darren has been training hard keen to get back on the overall trophy, and even has a brand new boat on the water.
Colby has paired up with skilled young sailor Mia Lovelady and it will be her first regatta experience in the Hobie 16 class. After racing on the Hobie 16 last weekend, Mia commented “It was fun! I like the experience of learning new things, my goal is to get it right, and that’s success for me.” Currently helming a 49erFx, Mia enjoys sailing fast and is looking forward to sending it in some strong winds in the Hobie event. Even though she will be finding her feet with the differences of crewing on a multihull, her race skills will be an asset in the front of the Hobie 16. When not racing her skiff, Mia is part of the Akamai Race Team who’ve been regular competitors on the match racing circuit and her race tactics are fresh from the Warren Jones International Youth Regatta.
Making the journey from east to west to compete in the hot WA fleet will be three teams from Queensland and NSW. Current QLD champions Peter and Juliet Bates come from Brisbane as will Andrew Warneke who has teamed up with Paddy Butler from Vincentia. Relatively new to the Hobie 16 is Gladstone couple Brian and Larissa Polkinghorne. Brian was so excited to find the Hobie 16 class which has reinvigorated his passion for the sport. Introducing his wife to sailing, they have been on a fast upward journey in the fleet and achieved a mid-fleet result in the strong open fleet at the recent Australian Championships.
Grand Masters teams Matt Faulkner / Ben Raven and Brad Quartermaine/ Tayla Woodhead who would normally be challenging for the podium will now be racing with Peter and Juliet and top local team Darren Smith / Claire Bisgood who move into this division. The Great Grand Masters will be a tough challenge too with plenty of skill and speed in these teams.
It’s always exciting to see the mini-competitions going on within the fleet between teams that are fairly evenly matched, it doesn’t matter what they are placing in the overall scores they are still competing and enjoying their racing. All part of the fun of Hobie racing.
A new initiative from the HCAWA, the regatta weekend will begin with a training session on Friday afternoon where Gavin Colby will conduct a learning seminar and question and answer session for competitors.
Hobie 16 racing always comes with a lot of fun and The Cruising Yacht Club is an ideal beachside venue to play host. Competitors and supporters will enjoy time to socialise ashore although, with the current forecast, there may be some tired sailors and volunteers after racing each day!
Sailing championships do not exist without a team of people behind the scenes, the Hobie Class Association of WA greatly appreciates the twenty-four volunteers who have signed up to assist. The race management team will be led by Race Officer Paul Davis who is supported by fellow RO’s from TCYC, Neil Mason, and Trevor Milton. There’s a fantastic lineup of sponsorship support too, follow the event on social media @HobieCatsWesternAustralia (Facebook and Instagram) and visit the website for more information wa.hobiecat.asn.au
Susan Ghent / Hobie Class Association of WA