It was an action-packed weekend of close racing at the 2022 Warren Taylor Homes WA Hobie 16 State Championships 2022, 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 sea breeze direction settled in.
Dual world champion in the class Gavin Colby sailing with Josie Mark had a great start to the event with two first places and a third in the first session. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds with the pair splitting tacks with the lead bunch in the first race to take the lead off Phil and Caitlyn Epps from Geraldton. Phil finished the session tied on 8 points with defending champions Cam Owen and Susan Ghent who also held consistent results even after putting themselves into some tough positions including having to restart after breaking a start.
The variable and shifting wind resulted in some up and down places throughout the rest of the fleet. Perth pair Glenn Fairey and Natalie Eldridge sailed well to come away with two fifth places as did Trevor Hughes and Elisabeth Smith with a six and a seven. Local team Peter Redway and Achaius Hall scored a fourth but like most teams came away with a high overall score in the tricky morning conditions.
Race four of the day was the most exciting with many position changes as teams constantly gybed downwind to stay in the gusts. Eventually the southerly appeared on the course, Owen broke the battle with Epps to go for the new wind with Darren Smith and Claire Bisgood on his tail. Epps just managed to hold on to the lead they crossed the line. Geraldton’s solid sea breeze was in for the afternoon. This was a challenge for many teams but for those who enjoy strong wind conditions it was a relief to finish the day.
Trent Robson and Jasmine Hill performed well picking up two fifth places. Other experienced pairs in the strong wind Brad Quartermaine / Tayla Woodhead and Matt Faulkner / Ben Raven placed sixth and seventh respectively.
Teams who scored consistently in the top ten gained a significant advantage and there was a breakaway pack on the overall scoreboard. A total of five races were held on day one and a discard race came into play. With a total score of 14, Colby was in the lead after dropping eighth place. Tied on 12 points Owen’s discard was a fifth so he placed ahead of Epps who dropped a third after a day of consistently good results. Hot on their tail was Darren Smith and Claire Bisgood with a fifteen point gap to Trent Robson and Jasmine Hill with a total score of 37.
The big mover to start day two was Smith / Bisgood who kicked off with a first, second, first.
Tony Marsh and Jess Felix from Geraldton stayed in the top ten for all six races and took the podium in the Grand Masters division overall. Last year’s champions Matt Faulkner and Ben Raven placed second with Brad Quartermaine / Tayla Woodhead in third. In a first for the WA fleet the Great Grand Masters division was scored too. Kevin Inder-smith is the first to have his name on the new trophy with crew Levi Quinn.
Teams settled into a steady southerly wind in the afternoon, the typical WA conditions were dominated by Colby / Mark who ended the series with three wins to take the Open division podium overall. While Owen and Smith are both consistent in their scores both teams had one disappointing score in the afternoon and finished second and third overall in that order.
The Master’s Division overall was won by Owen followed by Smith then team Epps. Next year they will be joined by Colby in the Masters fleet too.
Local team Sam Rose and Hannah Easton placed 22nd overall and had a great time in their first Hobie 16 Championship event. The thrill-seeking team especially enjoyed the strong wind conditions. They have certainly picked the right class in a Hobie Cat 16.
The regatta was a lot of fun for sailors and supporters, Geraldton Yacht Club puts on an excellent event and this includes a great time onshore. They treated everyone on Saturday night, Commodore John Gummery and his local sailors hosted a fish night at the club putting on the good GYC hospitality. To wrap up a fun weekend the presentation ceremony was a great time too. Well done to the Club, their volunteers, and WA Hobie Race Officer Paul Davis and his team.
Full results can be found on the Hobie Cat Association of WA website – hcawa.org.au and on social media @HobieCatsWesternAustralia (Facebook and Instagram)
Thanks to Natalie Whitfield a Hobie fleet volunteer team for taking some pics of the racing in Geraldton.