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Victorian Hobie State Championships at Port Melbourne Yacht Club

by Paddy Butler 16 Mar 2023 12:50 GMT 11-13 March 2023
Victorian Hobie State Championships 2023 © Mads Gillard

In a dramatic turn of events...

For as long as I can remember, the Victorian State Championships has been one of the most fun, entertaining and competitive events on the Australian Championship Tour. But, after so many years traveling to our Nation's deep south, we finally have a March weekend with a bit of breeze! And what better place to have than Port Melbourne Yacht Club with a 20 knot, onshore southerly!

The Victorian Labour Day long-weekend was once again filled with mischief and mayhem as 37 Hobie Cats (plus the Sandgroper) descended onto the shores of Port Melbourne for what was to be another epic weekend of racing in the education state. With 11 heats held over the three days of racing, it was all to play for as Kulin Country provided a mixed big of conditions for the Hobie Family.

Of the 37 teams, 14 of Victoria's finest Hobie 16 crews, along with the New South Welshmen up 'n' comers Jimmy Winchester & Brody Watt, hit the water for some incredibly tight racing across the board. Meanwhile four Dragoon Youth teams were back in action, with Tom Chen-Low & Harry Chiu, along with Nikki Briggs & Ethan Rassias making the trip over from Somers. In addition, the infamous sisters from Jervis Bay, Zoe Ellis & Jill Raftery, along with Bridget Raftery & Charlotte Ellis, went head to head for local bragging rights as the Team NSW matched the Victorians in an Australian Championship rematch.

Splitting the fleet, the Hobie 14-Turbo made a belated comeback with six boats on the water, including local powerhouse Martin Venter, along with the current Australian Champion, Upu Kila. The Hobie 14s saw a birthday in the fleet, with Oliver Horderns 18th landing on the first day of racing. And what better way to celebrate the christening of his very own Hobie 14 Hybrid. Green Machine (FKA Green Meanie), came down with Team NSW on the Hobie Asia Pacific trailer, helmed by Green Machine's previous owner MB.

Also making waves in the '14 fleet, first time Hobie 14 Helm, Carmen Andrews, came all the way down from the Sunshine State to prove that Dhaawarri (FKA Cheeky II), the boat she learnt to sail on, was still as fast as it was when her old man sold it off to none other than two-time VIC Hobie 14 State Champion, Paddy Butler.

Also from NSW, Bryn Robinson-Mills, MB, along with none-other than Rod Waterhouse were on the water, taking on the likes of local legends Tim Chiu, Mai Hordern and Zakky Rowdon. Additionally, first time competitors, Abi Beddoe and Rohin Adams were both christening their crafts in the best possible way.

Day 1

As the Victorians began to arrive on Saturday morning, the gaggle of northerners greeted the pack sleepily inside the PMYC compound where they had parked up on Friday evening. As masts became vertical, and hulls became sandy, it was no sooner than later that boats were in the water prepping for the first start of the day.

In a building southerly, four heats were held in the single session for the day. In the Hobie 14s, Martin took out the first race, as Upu finished the day with a trio of bullets. Harry & Tom had a solid day with three bullets, with Bridget & Charlotte taking their first bullet as a team in the second heat. Unfortunately for Zoe & Jill, after rounding A-mark with a convincing lead over the Dragoon fleet, their leeward side-stay to sway off, resulting in a dropped rig and their head coach Paddy on La Cheeki coming to the rescue.

Fletcher & Georgia Warren Myers proved their dominance on local waters, with three bullets and a drop of a second. Our fearless leaders of the ANHCA, Campbell Weddell & Naomi Chiu improved throughout the day, finishing the day with a bullet in the blow. Meanwhile, Nigel Beddoe & Emily Chiu were in the thick of the action, finishing their day in third overall.

The Hobie 14 fleet saw incredibly tight racing across the board. Rod took out the first heat of the day, before Paddy claimed the next with MB, Bryn & Zak hot on his heels. Oliver cracked the top-three in the third heat right before Tim did the same in the fourth.

Finally, there can never be a Victorian State Championships without a bit of Maddog Madness. As Director of Photography for Totally Immersed TV, Mads Gillard spent her preparation for the event in a state of wondrous bliss where she devised 'anti-trivia', something that could be considered a combination between 'Cards Against Humanity' and 'Have You Been Paying Attention?'.

With Geoff Rowdon's infamous trivial buzzers on the main stage, no one in the Hobie Family was safe from a roasting, with contestants tasked with describing things such as Cam Weddell's daily routine or past grievances, to determining the 'true' purpose of regular sailing items such as a dry-bag, shackle-key and dog-bone-style trapeze handles. You could only imagine what those Cowboy Sailors had to say...

Day 2

The second day of racing saw a breezier start to the morning, with that Port Melbourne wind chop we love so dearly hitting the beach before the first warning signal had sounded. The first race of the day saw Kenton and Jono Shue finish on the podium, along with Rowdy and his X-Factor crew for the day, Efe, sailing consistently throughout both sessions. Luke & Arija Crouch had a consistent day on the water. Meanwhile the Rosebud locals and fresh Hobie 16 Youth pairing of Max McKay & Ned McKenna improved with each race, as did Tim & Sebastian Hart in their inaugural State Championships.

In the Dragoons, Tom & Harry's speed with the spinnaker was superb as they picked up another three bullets, whilst Nikki & Ethan finished the last race on top. The '14-Turbos saw Colin Bailey and Nick Price go head-to-head throughout the day, whilst Port Melbourne local, Rohin, found his stride in the second session of racing.

Closing out what was afternoon of pure Cowboy Sailing on Port Phillip, our mariners were met with the highly anticipated, 'Hobie Ninja Warrior'. A brain child of the Rowdy Lads, Geoff & Zak spent endless afternoons testing and refining their obstacle course, with the intention of out-doing the beach-roller-wheelbarrow race at the 50th Hobie Nationals.

With a tiller-extension balance run, a main-sheet roller-cart, along with a trapeze-handle monkey-bars and a balance-beam made from a Hobie 16 Mast section, the Hobie Family was in for a treat as 18 of our finest athletes performed the tasks with the greatest enthusiasm possible.

Jimmy & Brody nailed the course to begin with, causing a great deal of stress for the Rowdy Lads. However, after a few failed attempts, Emily & Tim Chiu battled it out for supremacy at the family dinner table. With Emily's valiant attempt on the balance beam, nothing could stand against the precision of her rock-climber father, who defeated the course with ease.

The real challenge now, however, will be what the Rowdy Lads come up with for the 51st Hobie Nationals at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron later this year. All this action and more will be seen on Totally Immersed TV in the coming weeks.

Day 3

With the majority of sailors finishing Sunday feeling more battered and bruised than usual, a lighter forecast was welcomed with grace, as the new President for the Victorian Association, Mads Gillard, lined up the 37 boat fleet for a spectacular photo on Port Melbourne beach.

The PMYC Race Committee smashed out three races before the afternoon's cut-off time. With less than 10 knots blowing and a residual wind chop that would stop a '14 dead in her tracks, the conditions couldn't be more different to the previous days; resulting in a series so even it was anyone's game.

With only a point between the pair, Upu Kila solidified his spot as Victorian Hobie 14-Turbo Champion, with a bullet separating himself and Port Melbourne local, Martin Venter. Rounding out the podium, Ballarat local Colin Bailey finished off a very consistent regatta in third.

Finishing the day with three bullets, Fletch & Georgia took home the Victorian Hobie 16 Championships for a second consecutive year, along with the Hobie 16 Masters Championship. Carrying a drop of a UFD from the second last heat of the series, Cam & Nomes finished their campaign in second, closely followed by their counterparts from Somers and first time podium finishers, Nigel & Emily.

Taking out the Grand Masters, Rowdy, along with his X-Factor crews, Jack and Efe, cleaned up whilst placing fifth overall. Additionally, Jervis Bay's very own Jimmy, Brody and their 20-odd kilos of lead won their first Youth State Championship, whilst placing 10th in their second Hobie 16 Open Championship.

Racing for the very first time on a Hobie 14, Carmen Andrews took out the Women's Hobie 14 Championship, closely followed by Torquay powerhouse Mai Hordern and Somers newest helm, Abi Beddoe. The Young-Gun, Bryn Robinson-Mills took out his third consecutive Youth Championship, with Oli Hordern and his Hobie 14 Hybrid hot on his heels. We are beyond stoking to see where he takes the Green Machine next.

Taking out the Masters Title and finishing seventh overall, Tim Chiu continues his improvement as one of the hottest helms in Victoria. Finishing third overall, the Palm Beach Royal, Rod Waterhouse, placed third overall in his first Victorian Championships since the Age of the Resurgence. MB finished his campaign to become the first helm to win three Victorian Championships; however, the Grand Masters Champion was taken out by none other than PB, continuing his hot streak from the NSW Championships a month prior.

Finally, the future of the Hobie Class was in good hands over the weekend, with the four Dragoon teams having a ball on the waters of Port Phillip. The local lads, Tom & Harry took home the title, a single point ahead of the NSW team of Bridget & Charlotte. Finishing third, Nikki & Ethan finished the regatta with a bullet, as Zoe & Jill finished their regatta with two bullets in the morning.

Full results can be found here.

Paddy's Plain Speakin'

I'm sure you've all heard of the 'Hobie Family' at least once, whether it be in passing or at a regatta. But, quite frankly, that's what we are. A ragtag, gaggle of mariners whose lives are interconnected by one thing: Hobie Sailing.

With Totally Immersed TV on Tour documenting each State Championships this year, we hope to showcase the sailors within the Hobie Family. Hence, why we've only included Maddie's shots from the ground. Because, Hobie Sailing isn't just about the racing...

Whether you're a grom or an oldie, the reason we sail Hobie Cats isn't just for the high-quality, uber-competitive fleet racing, but for the community that is involved with our class. So when we're out on the water, remember to check in with your mates; before, during, and after the race.

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