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2019-20 Australian Hobie Cat Nationals at Jervoise Bay Sailing Club - Overall

by Suzzi Ghent 5 Jan 09:28 GMT 30 December 2019 - 4 January 2020
Lining up to start - 2019-20 Australian Hobie Cat Nationals © Kathy Miles

It was a typical summer weather pattern in Perth for the final day of racing at the Australian Hobie Cat Nationals. A variable offshore breeze with flat water greeted the sailors for the morn-ing session.

The north facing bay in front of Jervoise Bay Sailing Club looked inviting and competitors were relieved at a break from the strong southerly winds and choppy seas.

Sailors from Germany, Denmark and New Caledonia contesting the event had been thoroughly enjoy-ing the racing. Andy Dinsdale from Germany commented, "the event is fabulous, the place is really awesome to sail, flat water heaps of wind, different conditions and a bit of everything for everyone" he also commended the race management team and the sailing club for doing so well to organise the na-tionals. Sailing with his sister Lisa, they feel very lucky to have made the journey to Perth for the regat-ta.

With four races scheduled to complete a full series of sixteen, Cam Owen and Susan Ghent led on 13 points discarding a 2nd and a 4th from Darren Smith and Claire Bisgood on 24 points nett dropping two 9th places. Well within reach of the lead, Phil and Caitlyn Epps were discarding a 4th and 5th place and had 27 points nett. The three teams had been training together though the year to compete in the Hobie 16 Worlds last November and this effort was showing in their consistently good results. They had a break on 4th placed team Jason Spencer and Colleen Lutz, it would be game on for the top three teams to win the title.

Scores were tight in the Grand Masters division too, Matt Faulkner / Ben Raven were tied on 18 points nett with Brad Quartermaine / Tayla Woodhead. Close for the 3rd place was Phil Smyth / Mark Preedy only two points ahead of Rod Hodgkin / Lucy Bromell.

The offshore breeze was very challenging, many big gains and losses in the oscillating wind. Sailors needed to pay attention to where the next breeze might come from and there were significant changes in wind speed too. Owen was managing his risk, keeping in touch with Smith and Epps, race 13 would be a discard for all three teams. Lance Wood / Lucinda Crisp were pleased to take the win, Spencer in 2nd and Dinsdale in third.

Fremantle delivered its building sea breeze for a fabulous session of three races in the afternoon, an excellent way to end a great week of sailing in the beautiful waters off Woodman Point. Fast and excit-ing racing for the Hobie Cat fleet, they looked spectacular in the bay.

Owen / Ghent were in good form for the last three races placing 1,1,3 and so was Smith / Bisgood with a 2, 2, 1. Overall in the Open Championship, Cam Owen and Susan Ghent defended their Australian title, Ghent now ahead with six championship wins on the nationals board. Darren Smith and Claire Bisgood in second place overall and Phil and Caitlyn Epps in third. Voted the amateur champions by their peers, it was great to see Jason Spencer and Colleen Lutz sailing so well through the event and coming in 4th ahead of Danish sailor Nicklas Heide with Grady Redway from Geraldton.

The top four were also in the Masters division, Faulkner / Raven coming in fifth in that series.

Tied on nett points overall, Matt Faulkner and Ben Raven won the last two races to take the Grand Masters title over Brad Quartermaine and Tayla Woodhead. Phil Smyth and Mark Preedy in third overall were so happy to be sailing together again after racing as a team so many years ago.

Phil Smyth was awarded Hobie Legend status at the presentation ceremony. The 74 year old joins some true Hobie Legends on the class honour board. Class President Phil Epps interviewed Smyth, competitors and supporters were treated to some excellent Hobie stories, a great insight in to the amazing history that Phil Smyth has with the Hobie class. Watch the video on Facebook @HobieCatsWesternAustralia.

While the evening was about celebrating all of the competitors and volunteers and sharing salty tales from a fun week on the water, thoughts were with the communities around the country affected by fires. The sailors were especially thinking of the Hobie community in Jervis Bay NSW, on the other side of the country were they had terrible times in 2002 destroying the Hobie Factory. A bucket was passed around and a generous donation has gone towards the cause.

More information at hobiecatnationals.com.au

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