South Africans lead Hobie Tiger/Dragoon Worlds

Hobie Tiger Worlds start 2008, Langebaan (RSA)
Pierrick Contin/Hobie Cat

After the first racing day, the South Africans are in the lead of the 6th Hobie Tiger and 3rd Hobie Dragoon Worlds 2008 in Langebaan (RSA). Local Hobie 16 sailor Shaun Ferry and his crew John Van Der Vyfer flew out of the starting blocks and took the first bullet. They finished second in the following heat, which put them on top of the leader board of the Hobie Tiger fleet with 63 competing teams.

The Hobie Dragoon competition uses a Round Robin system, so the 25 crews swap the supplied catamarans before every race. That means that all youth competed once today and therefore the overall results show two leaders at the moment: Matt Whitehead and Megan Du Plessis, as well as Erich Rickens and Reghardt Mostert. In the afternoon, the wind picked up to 28 knots and further racing was cancelled. The weather forecast for Tuesday shows again strong winds.

“We thought that anything in the top five is good, so don’t push any harder”, said Shaun Ferry in the Hobie Village after the racing. Ferry won the last Hobie Worlds held in South Africa. That was back in 2005 on his familiar Hobie 16. About three months ago he decided to try his luck on the 18-foot Hobie Tiger.

He teamed up with John Van Der Vyfer: “We practised three weeks during our holiday, so I have only hoisted the spinnaker since January. I watched Darren Bundock flying the kite on internet many times. So downwind, we just sail the boat safely.”

As most of the times in the Langebaan Lagoon, it paid to go to the left as far as possible. That is how Mischa Heemskerk and Bastiaan Tentij (NED) lost their second position, by going to the other side in the second beat. William Edwards and Graeme Willcox (RSA) took advantage of them and crossed the finish line in second position, followed by the Australians Lovig/Gibson.

During the second heat, the wind picked up to 18-22 knots. That made it a tough first day for some teams, especially the Europeans coming from the winter season. As a result, nose dives, swimming crew members and difficulties in boat handling were part of the game. But the 2008 Australian Hobie Tiger Champions Robbie Lovig and Lachland Gibson did not have any issues. They were first at the windward mark and leaded the fleet up to the finish.

Gibson: “Like in the first race, we started at the boat and went further left than anybody else.” According to helmsman Lovig, their speed is good in this breeze: “It is just like home in Melbourne, only a little bit warmer.”

Ferry and Van Der Vyfer finished second, followed by Mark Laruffa and Daniel Sims (AUS). Robbie Lovig is not new to the Hobie sailing, as he won the Hobie 16 Youth Worlds in 2002 and he finished third at the ISAF Youth Worlds of 2001. He switched to the Tornado, but could not beat Darren Bundock. After a short break, he has returned to the multihulls.

Hobie Dragoon training pays

The opportunity of competing in the Hobie Dragoon Worlds in their own country, enthused and motivated many South African talents. They participated in the special youth programs that were set up for them. Now, they have the chance to race against teams from the UK, Netherlands and Spain. But the locals put up a show today.

In the first heat, the favourites Matt Whitehead and Megan Du Plessis took the bullet. Whitehead: “It was awesome racing. We battled with Ewald up to the first mark. He stayed close behind until the gate, from where we extended our lead.”

In the second race, Gary and Colin Norton were in a comfortable lead as the miscounted the laps. Erich Rickens (RSA, 13 years) explained what happened: “They went through the last gate and continued for another beat. The second boat did the same and that is how I became first.”

From Tornado to Hobie Worlds

It was already night as six times Tornado World Champion Darren Bundock (AUS) and last year’s medallists Carolijn Brouwer (BEL) and Mitch Booth (NED) arrived from New Zealand. They missed the spectacular opening ceremony with an air show at Langebaan Yacht Club and the parade of nation flags onboard of yachts.

After their last day of the Tornado Worlds, the Olympic sailors flew directly to South Africa. This morning, they were just too late for the first starting gun and had to fight their way through the fleet. In the following race, they were heated up and back up front. Brouwer/Bundock finished 8th and Booth with occasional crew Tiffany Baring-Gould 4th.

Brouwer: “After today, Darren has even more respect for the hard working crews. We had a reasonable start at the pin and finished 8th. A lot of things still went wrong, the rudders came up a couple of times and I am used to more kilograms at the front. Darren and I just made the minimum crew weight of 140 kg, so we miss some speed upwind. But we had a lot of fun out there.”

Besides from having a chance to learn from the current World Champion, Brouwer likes to promote women sailing on catamarans. Brouwer is heavily involved in supporting multihull sailing. On February 27, she was voted as the new president of the International Tornado Association.

Tiger - Overall Results after 2 races

1 RSA - S.Ferry/J.Van Der Vyfer, Total pts: 3 (1,2)
2 AUS - R.Lovig/L.Nankin, Total pts: 4 (3,1)
3 AUS - M.Laruffa/D.Sims, Total pts: 13 (10,3)
4 RSA - D.Ross/R.Gibson, Total pts: 13 (6,7)
5 NED - M.Heemskerk/B.Tentij, Total pts: 15 (4,11)
5 NED - M.Booth/T.Baring-Gould, Total pts: 15 (11,4)
7 RSA - C.Whitehead/J.Selic, Total pts: 17 (5,12)
8 FRA - L.Fequet/D.Boc'ho, Total pts: 18 (8,10)
9 RSA - H.Hale/S.Botes, Total pts: 20 (7,13)
10 RSA - A.Lawrence/I.Schabort, Total pts: 21 (16,5)

Dragoon - Overall Results top five after one race

1 RSA - M.Whitehead/M.Du Plessis, Total pts: 1 (1)
1 RSA - E.Rickens/R.Mostert, Total pts: 1 (1)
3 RSA - E.Erasmus/R.Suttner-Scalco, Total pts: 2 (2)
3 RSA - D.McLean/S.Du Plessis, Total pts: 2 (2)
5 RSA - P.Hall/S.Louw, Total pts: 3 (3)
5 GBR - L.Carter/D.Carter, Total pts: 3 (3)

The Hobie Tiger & Hobie Dragoon Worlds 2008 are sponsored by Southey, Airport City, Seiko and Coca Cola with Langebaan Yacht Club as the event host.