French crew snatch victory at Australian Hobie Nationals

Flying action - Australian Hobie Nationals
Jay Grant - SCYC
Australia’s 2012 National Hobie Cat Championship Regatta was held at Mooloolaba last week (2 – 6 Jan).

Hosted by the Sunshine Coast Yacht Club (SCYC) in association with Mooloolaba Marina, and The Yacht Club social club, approximately 80 boats participated in fourteen races over five days of testing competition.

SCYC was praised for the smooth running of its first national regatta as host club, under the controlling hand of PRO Paul Effeney.

The fleet of 73 Hobie 16s and seven Hobie 18s took to the start on day 1 in tricky conditions with a two metre south easterly swell and a 10 to 12 knot breeze. This proved challenging for some competitors as they tackled unfamiliar conditions and kept SCYC rescue crews busy, as a number of Hobies capsized or experienced mast problems. Clean starts were the order of the day as competitors settled into their routines.

Finishing well with two firsts and a fourth, current Junior World Champion Jason Waterhouse and crew Lisa Darminin were the day 1 Hobie 16 Open and Youth leaders.

Day 2 again started with a good sailing breeze of 12 to 14 knots with a continuing S/SE swell and messy surface chop, followed by easing winds for the second race and patchy gusts shifting through the third. Competitors were kept on their toes as they tested their skills in the changing conditions; however the excitement proved too much for some as PRO Paul Effeney ordered a general recall after more than half the fleet crossed the line early in Race One. Skilful sailing saw the leader board change hands throughout the day, but Jason Waterhouse held on to First place with Mick Butler, Cam Owen, Peter Bates, and Jerome Le Gal placing second, third, fourth and fifth place, consecutively.

Racing - Australian Hobie Nationals
Jay Grant - SCYC

Lighter winds again were forecast for the third day, however 11 knots was managed by the wind gods to give the Hobies some very enjoyable sailing conditions. With the swell easing, SCYC rescue crews had an easier day, taking the opportunity to view the race action around the marks and at the finish line. Easing conditions did not mean easy wins as demonstrated by Jason Waterhouse’s drop into fourth position at the end of the day’s racing. Current World Champion Jerome Le Gal finished Day Three in second place, behind former World Champion Mick Butler.

Day 4 races were delayed due to light winds early on, but got underway before lunch allowing a full schedule of three races to be completed. Competition was heating up and crews, eager to take line honours, slipped over the line early in the second and third races resulting in more general recalls. However even that wasn’t enough warning for some with the Black Flag being raised and an unlucky few finishing with a BFD. Not to be perturbed, the good nature of the Hobie sailors prevailed, and the day finished with Junior World Champion Jason Waterhouse retaining his Australian Youth title after placing two seconds and a first in the Youths, while Jerome Le Gal shot past Mick Butler to take the lead position in the Open division.

Le Gal and Dinsdale - Australian Hobie Nationals
Jay Grant - SCYC

The final day dawned still and calm. While competitors were left sitting on the beach pondering the possibility of no racing, PRO Paul Effeney and his crew of SCYC Race Officers motored out into the bay to await the wind. The decision to race was made by 11.30am with 8 to 10 knots of wind being recorded; just enough to garner enthusiasm from the happy sailors as they entered into the final two races.

The Black Flag was ordered for both races as numerous Hobies bolted early on the start. Although BFDs were recorded, they did not affect the lead crews and the day finished on a good note with all competitors having a cheery wave and thank you for the race boat crew. World Champion Jerome Le Gal and crew Andy Dinsdale, who had not sailed together before Day One, emerged final winners on 40 points. Mick Butler placed second with 44 points, Cam Owen was third on 76 points, with Jason Waterhouse fourth on 79 points and Peter Bates in fifth place with 85 points.

The week culminated with a rousing dinner and presentations at The Yacht Club at Mooloolaba Marina. Peter Bates of the Hobie Cat Nationals Organising Committee was on hand to present trophies to the winners in all divisions. Heinz Seeberg, Commodore of the Sunshine Coast Yacht Club, expressed his delight and enthusiasm for the event before thanking his crew of 40 SCYC members who voluntarily assisted with all aspects of race management on both ocean and land throughout the week.

Hobie Cats rounding the SCYC race buoys - Australian Hobie Nationals
Jay Grant - SCYC

Overall Winners - Australian Hobie Nationals
Jay Grant - SCYC

Regatta Chiefs - Left to right: Paul Effeney, PRO; Sarah Turnbull, Hobie Cat Nationals Organising Committee; Heinz Seeburg, Commodore Sunshine Coast Yacht Club; Peter Bates, Hobie Cat Nationals Organising Committee.
Jay Grant - SCYC