Toukley Sailing Club’s Bill Cheal Memorial Regatta unfolded over the October long weekend on the picturesque waters Darkinjung’s Tuggerah Lake, offering sailors and spectators alike an exhilarating three days of racing filled with varying conditions. The regatta, which honoured the memory of the late Bill Cheal, a founding member of Toukley Sailing Club, showcased the resilience, skill and sheer determination of the mariners as they battled through a wide variety of conditions on their humble Hobie 14s.
A grand total of 18 x Hobie 14s hit the race track over the duration of the weekend, with six helms competing in their first Championship Tour regatta. Regular Hobie 16 helm, Ellie Knorre, hit the water solo for the first time. Local lads Huon Saul and Jared Carter were making gains being thrown into the deep end on Saturday. Great Lake’s Michael Taylor was pushing the limits of the Turbo in his first big fleet race. Finally, the Liddell boys, Jake & Brin, took a break from the Nacra 17 and the Australian Sailing Squad to join the hottest single-handed catamaran fleet in Australia.
Day One: Big Nor’ Easter
The regatta kicked off in style on Saturday with a solid nor’ easterly seabreeze rolling across Darkinjung Country, creating perfect conditions for flat water racing. The breeze was steady across the majority of the race course, allowing sailors to focus on tactics, strategy and pure boat speed. Three red-hot heats were held on the first day, with racing fast-paced and closely contested.
Racing in Division Two, Jimmy & Brody were sending it on the Hobie 16 for their first outing this season. Having torn their mainsail during the second race, the were forced to head to shore. Crewless for the weekend, Jake de Rooy & Brad Robinson teamed up on the Hobie 18, racing the Nacra 5.8s in the blistery seabreeze. Reports from the water indicate the lads were all smiles, even when Jakey was getting washed off the back of the boat!
MB won the day, finishing up on seven points with a second, a fourth and a bullet to finish the day. Andrew McKenzie and Gav Luxton came away with a bullet apiece, whilst Paddy was nipping at their heels enough to finish the day tied with the old-boys on eight points. Noticeable standouts included Darren Schmidt, whose new and improved vessel was finely tuned. Likewise, 21-year-old Huon Saul, coming from a skiff background, was displaying promise in the honking seabreeze.
Day Two: Howling Westerly
Day two brought an entirely different set of challenges as a howling westerly wind descended upon Tuggerah Lake. The wind was fierce, creating short, sharp chop and hidden bullets right across the course. Undeterred, the sailors pushed their skills to the limit, and four races were held despite the wild conditions.
Paddy and MB took out the first two heats of the day with Gav, Andrew and Hatto hot on their stern. The second session saw Brin cleaned up the fleet with a glorious right-hand shift in the second work of the sixth heat, as Paddy jumped back into the lead for the final race of the day, with Macca and Brin close behind once again.
Upu Kila was a standout during the arvo session after a respite in for the morning. After a hard fought slog in the morning, the lighter air in the afternoon allowed Ellie to shine, absolutely sending the Hobie 14 around the lake like she’s been doing this all her life. With Sunday being his only opportunity to race, Aaron Robinson took to home waters proving he’s a strong contender in the breeze, whilst also providing some of the greatest spills of the day.
The gusty winds tested the sailors’ abilities to maintain control of their boats, leading to exhilarating moments, frequent spills and a majority of choc-tops throughout the fleet (all bar Lucky-Dog). MB’s run ins on the course proved valued entertainment. Ellie’s pitchpole at the top mark resulted in her mast landing on MB’s mainsail, whilst Pete Breaden’s leeward bow knocked the big fella’s behind into the air and off the back of the boat. Despite the adverse conditions, the spirit of the regatta remained high, and the determined sailors continued to give their all.
Day Three: Light Wind Recovery Session
The final day of the Bill Cheal Memorial Regatta provided a welcomed change, as a light, flukey southerly breeze swept up Darkinjung Country. The mariners had to rely on their finesse and tactical prowess to navigate the shifting winds, with Paddy trialling to success tacking in the shifts upwind.
The southerly breeze brought its own set of challenges, dying off completely prior to the first start resulting in the entirety of the fleet late for the start. The second race saw the young-fella Rory Robinson excelling, keeping pace with Paddy on the upwind, whilst Pete came away with a second in the final heat of the series, cleaning up on the downwind.
The NSWHCA would like to thank the organisers and volunteers who put together Toukley Sailing Club’s Bill Cheal Memorial Regatta on such short notice. What was one of the greatest weekends on the Australian sailing calendar, the team at Toukley must be commended on creating such a successful and memorable event, bringing sailors together to honour a great man and enjoy the thrill of competitive catamaran sailing in its purest form.
Mannering Park Amateur Sailing Club’s Phil Johnston Memorial 14ft Regatta
In two weeks time, Mannering Park will be once again hosting their Phil Johnston Memorial 14ft Regatta on the weekend of the 14-15 October. Last year, 15 x Hobie 14s hit the start line. This year, we’re anticipating 25 boats. With the Maricats holding the NSW Championships in conjunction with the annual regatta, it’s looking to be a glorious one.
Dobbo, Adrian, Jakey & Spinelli are all set to join the Jervis Bay mob from the weekend. Bloody Leon, David Bent and Worst News are booked in for a road trip from Queensland, whilst proud new Hobie 14 owner Paul will be joining the Fish and Goat from Palm Beach. Finally, the greatest Hobie 16 crew of all time Kerry Waterhouse and Australian Hobie 16 women’s champion Emma Rankin are both in talks to send it.
With all that and more, on the cards in October, and the NSW State Championships at the start of November, there is plenty to look forward to on the Championship Tour.