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Ron Holm on the 2022 Hobie 17 and 18 North American Championship

by David Schmidt 15 Aug 08:00 PDT August 16-21, 2022
Hobie racecourse action © Image courtesy of Kenny McIntosh

When it comes to big fun on two hulls, it's tough to beat the Hobie 17 and Hobie 18 classes. While the smaller of these two designs (penned by John Wake in 1985) is a singlehanded rocketship that enjoys significant righting moment from its trapeze, and the bigger of the two designs (penned by Hobie Alter and Phil Edwards in 1976) is a two-handed, double-trapeze speed machine, they both share Hobie's DNA. And they are both a hoot to sail, especially on a breeze-on day on a talent-rife racecourse.

Which is precisely what competitors will find from August 16-21, 2022, when the 2022 Hobie 17 and Hobie 18 North American Championship unfurls on the waters of Lake Perry, in Meriden, Kansas. The event is being organized by the Hobie Class Association of North America, Hobie Fleet 149, and the Perry Yacht Club, the latter of which is also hosting the event.

I checked in with Ron Holm, event chair of the 2022 Hobie 17 and Hobie 18 North American Championship, via email, to learn more about this high-level regatta.

How many boats are you expecting on the starting line(s) of this year's regatta?

We presently have 14 Hobie 17s and 11 Hobie 18s registered.

Generally speaking, what kinds of conditions can sailors expect on the waters of Perry Lake in mid-August?

With Kansas weather sailors should be prepared for a little of everything, from light air tests of concentration to some good heavy-air battles. The temperatures can be as hot as the expected competition for this championship.

Do you see local knowledge playing a big or small role in the regatta's outcome? Can you please explain?

As a local who is expecting to compete in the regatta, I would love to think local experience on the lake would give me or our other local sailors some kind of a leg up on the competition, but the truth is among those competing at this event all of them travel frequently to a variety of lakes and adapt quite to the local conditions.

Lake sailing in general presents unique challenges. We have no currents or tides, but the wind can be unpredictable with pressure lines and shifts to a much higher degree than sailing larger bodies of open water. It really pays to pay attention.

In the ideal world, how many races do you and the other organizers hope to score? Also, will these be triangles of windward-leeward courses?

With four days of racing scheduled we are hoping for at least 12 races. The courses will be windward-leeward using the standard Hobie Class course designations.

If you could offer one piece of advice to visiting (and local) sailors, what would it be?

Don't expect the course to ever be the same even from leg to leg. Often the side of the course [that] paid off during the last beat will not be the favored side on the next beat. You must pay close attention to the water, and the boats both in front and behind you on the course to stay in tune with the variations of wind pressure and direction. The lake isn't as wildly shifty as some, but in this field of competitors every boat length is going to matter.

Do you have any entries that you're eyeing for podium finishes? What about any dark horses who you think could prove to be fast, once the starting guns begin sounding?

In the H17 class we have several past multiple award champions registered for the event to include Matt Bounds and Phil Collins. In past years these sailors have had some very tight battles for the championship and that is no doubt expected again at this Regatta. Phil has won the H17 North American Championship 12 times and Matt Bounds has been the North American Champion 3 times. Given the list of competitors, landing in the top half of the H17 fleet should make anyone proud. There are several who have been eying the championship a long time, and quite capable of securing the win. Matt and Phil have much to worry about besides each other.

The Hobie 18 Fleet (currently registered) at this regatta is packed with previous Champions including Andy Humphries, Richard Freer, Stephen Cooley, Jim Sohn. This fleet is expected to feature some very tight tough racing, with some excellent sailors returning to the sport, it's really anyone's game.

What about onshore entertainment? What can sailors look forward to once the finishing guns have gone silent each day?

In continued tradition, Perry Lake has been the home of many great regatta throughout the years, and all of those sailors will be around to share and make some new stories at this event. This event is another piece of a strong revival of catamaran sailing and racing at Perry Yacht Club.

With that there has always been a deep connection to "The Hobie Way of Life" and long-lasting friendships and fun to accompany fierce competition. We will just say there are rumors floating around about some recently discovered VHS tapes of some regattas of years past will be ready for viewing during this event. When discussing some of these past events several of the sailors told me they were sure glad everyone didn't have cell phone cameras like we do today. They are in for quite a treat.

Throughout the event sailors are going to eat very well with an opening banquet featuring a local favorite Lago Vista grill, and our Awards Ceremony will showcase Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que.

Can you please tell us about any efforts that the club has made to green-up the regatta and generally lower its environmental wake?

Perry Yacht Club is located on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's lake and takes our responsibility to the care of the lake and property very seriously. Our club has several workdays throughout the year in which our club membership strives to be certain our presence on the lake contributes to the long-term sustainability of our environment.

This year we engaged in an extensive beach project to restore our beach from club use following a large flood event in 2019. Throughout the project we have been planting and preserving natural plants and focusing on erosion control using organic methods. Seeing that the areas surrounding our beach is sustainable and our impact is limited both helps the environment and makes our club a more enjoyable place for our sport.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add, for the record?

Sailors can register today or follow the event at www.thehobiewayoflife.com

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