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WA Multihull community get together with the WAXIT National Championship for a bit of fun

by Susan Ghent 4 Jan 18:32 GMT 29 December 2020 - 3 January 2021

In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, a great idea was born. Restrictions on travel around Australia meant that national championships scheduled for the festive season were all cancelled for 2020-21. There would be no catching up with interstate sailing friends for competition this year.

With the Western Australian border closed, local foiling A class sailor James Clark decided on a different type of championship and the WAXIT National Championship was born. He comments "most sailors were not able to attend their usual regattas due to COVID, which is particularly tough for the guys and girls that train regularly and put a lot of time and effort in to their sailing, based on that the idea of WAXIT came up and the wonderful volunteers at Jervoise Bay Sailing Club made it happen."

Hosted by Jervoise Bay Sailing Club from 29 December to 3 January for all off the beach multihull classes with an overall winner on yardstick. A great chance for the local multihull community to "get together and have a lot of fun" said WA sailor Max Puttman.

The waters off Coogee Beach, to the north of Woodmans Point would have to be one of the best places for off the beach multihulls to race and the summer breeze in Perth are known to be consistent and strong. But of course 2020 had to be different and turned on some unseasonal conditions for the thirty eight catamarans and one trimaran.

They were all shapes and sizes, modern foiling A Class cats and high tech F18's, single handed Windrush 14's, an excellent turnout of Hobie 16's, quite a few types of Nacra from 430's and 14 Square's to F18 types and a Weta 4.4 trimaran.

There were thirteen Hobie 16's with at least sixteen national title wins in the class between the crews. Top teams Darren Smith / Claire Bisgood, Phil and Caitlyn Epps and Cam Owen / Susan Ghent would have a good run at the overall WAXIT title. But they would have a tough battle on their hands, foiling A class sailor James Clark would be very hard to beat overall in any wind condition as well as top F18 sailors Gavin Parker / Dan Brown on their Windrush Edge. Rob Smith would be able to mix things up with his Nacra 14 for Square that he had won the state championship with 30 years ago.

Lots of girls in the fleet, many crewing on Hobie 16's, Jeanette Kinsey on the Nacra Infusion F18 Hot Fuzz, Annika Pennifold on the Scorpion Exploder F18 Guma and Kim Lindsay skippering her Nacra 14 Square Dark Horse. The youth contingent was represented by teams Lachy Owen / Nick Parker on a Hobie 16, Murray and Andrew Buchan on a Windrush Edge F18 as well as a handful of others spread through the fleet.

Teams settled in with just one invitation race on the first day. It was a hot day in Perth with very little wind. Race Officer Paul Harry went out to set up anyway and as the boats got to the race course a glorious southerly arrived. First over the line was Murray and Andrew with Bevan Chrimes / Ben Hillman only seconds behind on a Nacra Evolution F18. The first Hobie 16 was Cam and Susan only 3 minutes behind to take the win on yardstick.

The unseasonal conditions began on race day one with three races held in a north westerly wind direction, almost never seen in Perth on a summers day, before it dropped out to nothing. With many teams over the line early through the session the start team handed out UFD penalties including one to Gavin Parker in race three. The Buchan brothers led the day followed by Chrimes / Hillman then James Clark in third and Cam Owen fourth.

Day Two brought more unusual north westerly winds, shifty and moderate in strength and a lot of seaweed over the course. The Hobie 16 class performed well in the waves and had the ability to manage the seaweed better than the modern cats. Owen / Ghent scored 3,1,2,3 for the day, Parker / Brown 1,2,1,5 and Rob Smith sailed impressively to win the final race for 2020. With a discard now in play Parker took the overall lead.

The JBSC volunteers put on an excellent spread of crayfish and roast dinner and the group enjoyed the New Years Eve celebrations together in the casual setting. It was a fun evening for the community to mix and most were camping at the Club together.

After a lay day to begin 2021, race day 3 delivered more unusual wind conditions. An easterly, off the beach all day shifty and strong. It was a challenging for some teams with the average wind speed over 20 knots with much stronger powerful gusts. Paul Raymond on his foiling A Class was launched out of the water in a 28 knot gust for the best photo of the regatta.

Photographer Kathy Miles captured the amazing display, he landed safely but sadly realised his boat was badly damaged, broken front and rear beams and he retired from the event. A Class sailor Max Puttman also had to retire after breaking a mast. James Clark commented "it was so windy that Cam Owen and Susan Ghent beat the F18's across the line on a Hobie 16". They came away with three firsts and a second place, James scored 1,5,2,2 and Hobie 16's Jason Spencer / Colleen Lutz, Phil Epps / Caitlyn Epps, Brad Quartermaine / Tayla Woodhead and Smith / Bisgood also collected some good scores. Ash Rowley on his Nacra 430 Super Sloop Spin got around the course well in the challenging conditions and had a consistent session.

After racing the Nacra fleet were having some fun posting class stickers upside down on to boats who had capsized. While volunteers and sailors were enjoying their time ashore, Bevan's Nacra Evolution named Pandemic was wheeled down the lawn and parked in front of a group of Hobie sailors. They quickly hoisted a colourful Hobie 16 mainsail up the mast for a bit of fun too.

The easterly wind showed no sign of subsiding on day four of racing and several teams decided to sit out the last day. Leading in to the final four races was Owen / Ghent with Parker / Brown, Smith / Bisgood and Clark all challenging for the podium. The morning session saw shifting directions and wind gusts of up to 30 knots, many capsizes and lead changes. Clark took the first win, Parker the next before a break. Clark finished the series with another two bullets in the afternoon session as the breeze moderated slightly. Parker suffered damage which ended his challenge for the podium places. The consistency of the Hobie 16 teams throughout the wind range kept them in the lead overall.

Commenting on the event, the very happy founder of the WAXIT James Clark said "it was a great regatta with plenty of laughs."

The overall winner of the event on yardstick was Cam Owen and Susan Ghent on their Hobie 16 with fellow Hobie sailors Darren Smith and Claire Bisgood in second. They held these result in Division Two with Phil and Caitlyn Epps in Third. James Clark on his foiling A Class came in third overall in the combined fleet and won Division One with Gavin Parker / Dan Brown second. Rob Smith took the win in Division three.

But the real winner was the entire multihull community in Perth. It was a excellent week in a perfect location. The volunteers at Jervoise Bay Sailing Club, assisted by several from Nedlands Yacht Club and Safety Bay Sailing Club put on a great series and enjoyed themselves too. A good ending to a tough year and a nice start to 2021.

Full list of regatta entrants and overall results here.

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