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Hat-trick for Warrren-Myers at Victorian Hobie Cat State Championships

by Paddy Butler, Bridget Raftery 27 Mar 15:46 PDT 9-11 March 2024
Victorian Hobie Cat State Championships 2024 © Abi Morgan

In what can only be described as some of the most profoundly erratic, fluky and taxing wind conditions the Australian Hobie Family has ever seen on the Championship Tour, the 2024 Victorian State Championships was one of the best we've seen yet!

With a grand total of 42 Hobie Cats on the water (consisting for 21 x Hobie 16s, 12 x Hobie 14s, 5 x Hobie 14-Turbos and 4 x Hobie 18s), the Hobie Cat Assoc. of Victoria, along with the amazing team at Anglesea Motor Yacht Club have once again run an outstanding Hobie Regatta, both on and off the water.

The Hobie Cat Association of Victorian would like to thank their proud supporters of the event, Soulful Living Real Estate, CTS Environmental, South Western Drilling and Anglesea Discovery Camp and all their assistance. A huge cheers and acknowledgement goes to the Tutt family for their creativity and ingenuity in creating this year's trophies, made from rubbish collected along the Victorian Coastline. Thanks to Emily Chiu for the outstanding design on the event t-shirts.

Finally, thanks to Kate and the whole team at Anglesea, along with Race Officers Ron & John, for their instrumental efforts and organising of this exceptional regatta.

Saturday

With half the fleet already on location on Victoria's Surf Coast, it was a busy start to the morning at Anglesea Motor Yacht Club as the masses began swamping into town ready for a weekend of fair weather sailing. Already sweating buckets before he made it to the beach for his morning surf, Mick Butler had his Hobie 14 set to light-weather mode in line with the weekend's forecast barely exceeding 10 knots. Likewise, Queenslander Carmen Andrews felt right at home with an average of 38' degrees celsius forecasted for the three days of racing.

However, as we tend to learn time and time again, the forecast failed to live up to all the hype with a hot and dry north-westerly blowing fiercely down the cliff faces of the Surf Coast. Hitting the water straight after lunch, the fleet was a spectacle for the hundreds of holiday-makers parked up on the beach under their CoolCabanas.

Leading the charge in the Hobie 16s, Georgia & Fletcher Warren-Myers came away with three bullets, all less than a boat length in front of Cam Weddell & Pip Pietromonaco who finished with three seconds. Geoff Rowdon & Taylor Woodward had four keepers, starting the day with a pair of thirds, whilst the Shue brothers, Kenton & Jonno, raced consistently. However, it was a solid pin-end start for your Match Report authors, Paddy Butler & Bridget Raftery, who claimed the last race as their own, splitting up the picket fence for Team Warren-Myers.

Martin Venter and reigning champion, Upu Kila, went head-to-head in the Hobie 14-Turbos, finishing the day on equal points. Likewise, Mick Butler and Rod Waterhouse finished tied on points, with MB leading on count-back. NSW hotshot Gav Luxton had a consistent day, as did Leon Whitworth who made the trip to Anglesea all the way from the Gold Coast. Finally, The Hobie 18s saw a clean sweep from Jake de Rooy & Alannah Simpson before breakage in the final heat, leaving Torquay locals Chris Hordern & James Marsh the opportunity to win the last heat of the day.

With anticipation mounting after Geoff Rowdon teased the 'On the Couch' session after AMYC's roast dinner, it was finally revealed that ANHCA President, Cam Weddell would be chatting to none other than World Champion, bonafide Hobie Legend and Anglesea local Aaron Worrrall. Bringing along stories from the golden years of Hobie Sailing in the 90s, Azza spoke candidly about his life on Tour all around the world, from his early days on a Hobie 14, to his early retirement and sailing on his 40ft catamaran all around the world. Put the time in, park up on the couch, turn on Totally Immersed TV and take a listen yourself.

Sunday

Relatively well-rested sailors arrived bright and early to find themselves in an already-triple the forecast breeze. Both those who had come in with the birds to enjoy a spot of surfing and the Anglesea locals knew that an intellectually-challenging day was ahead, on account of the fact that the 15 knot nor-westerly was already gusting in at a solid pace, yet the hurry-up-and-wait protocol was enacted in anticipation of the inbound southerly breeze.

After a sweaty few hours spent half-dressed in wetsuits, in-between the club's air-conditioning and the cool waters of the Bass Strait, the AP was dropped, mainsails were hastily hauled up, and the surf was conquered. A majority of the fleet arrived just in time to see their class flag raised, and the racing was under way. A surprise lay in wait, though, as the true meaning of a south-northerly was revealed.

It proved rather challenging as during one of the four races as there seemed to be no downwind leg - the wind would shift as the fleet rounded A-mark, letting the traveller go, only to find themselves sheeting back on. This did nothing to dissuade the Race Committee or any of the sailors, who simply gritted their teeth and glued their eyes to the telltales to finish four spectacular races.

Starting the day strong, Cam & Pip snuck in two bullets, before Fletch & Georgia took one in the third, and Rowdy & Taylor claimed the last race in sensational fashion. Somers hotshots, Nigel Beddoe & Naomi Chiu were sailing consistently in the variable conditions, whilst Anglesea father/daughter team Tim & Elsa Tutt snuck in a second during the third heat of the day, with the Shue boys and Paddy & Bridget following closely behind.

Jake & Alannah had another solid day on the race track in the Hobie 18 fleet, with Shane 'Chucky' Norris & Rosie Marsh, his brand-new super-crew, giving Team NSW a run for their money. In the Hobie 14-Turbos, Victorians Herman Voorhoeve, Colin Bailey and Nick Price were giving Upu and Martin something to fight for on the water.

In the Hobie 14s, positions were swapping and changing just as much as the breeze, with Oliver Hordern winning the first heat of the day, with Luxton and Queenslander Carmen Andrews coming in second and third respectively after some confusion in the race track. MB and Hot Rod both had consistent days, finishing on equal points once again. Tim Chiu shone in the third race, finishing with a bullet after Kerry Waterhouse was seen rounding the top-mark in first.

Post-racing, the sailors were treated to a feed from the local wood-fired pizza oven, and urged to fuel up in anticipation of Rowdy's latest game. It was only fitting that this game would favour the Victorians, as residents of a state far more well-versed in the ways of Aussie Rules than perhaps some of the New South Welshmen. "Hobie Handball" was introduced. The rules are simple: with an AFL ball, handball it towards a target, aiming for the Hobie 'H' flag cut out in the centre to score yourself points ranging from 1-10. With five attempts and a top-5 playoff, it was anyone's game.

Monday

The final day of racing dawned bright and early, and quite still. Compared to the previous days, it was a relief to see a consistent 7 knots on the wind readings, coming from a consistent direction. The fleet was off the beach on time, and the calm trip out to the racetrack gave the sailors a true opportunity to admire the stunning scenery of the Surf Coast.

However, the weekend wouldn't truly be complete without yet another complicated decision from the wind gods. In-between the first and second races, the gusts climbed significantly, and the start of the second race had the feeling of traveller out, hold on, and pray. The racetrack quickly turned into capsize central, and the words "we're in survival mode" were distinctly uttered. With winds ranging between 5 knots and 35 knots, with only two heats completed on the final day of racing.

A solid day on the water for Leon Whitworth with a 1, 2, saw him climb up the ladder in the Hobie 14s, knocking Gav Luxton off the podium to finish in third behind Rod Waterhouse and Mick Butler. Butler Snr. solidified the win after a 1, 2, in the final two heats of the series, whilst also solidifying himself the second athlete to win three Victorian State Championships in the class with Somers (2020), Portarlington (2022) and Anglesea (2024); the first being Butler Jnr with Port Melbourne (2018), Safety Beach (2021) and Port Melbourne (2023). Finishing in fifth place overall, Oliver Hordern cleaned up to claim his first Victorian Youth State Championships, as Carmen Andrews backed up her 2023 Title as Women's Hobie 14 State Champion.

Upu Kila came away as the Victorian Hobie 14-Turbo Champion for the second year running, narrowly beating Martin Venter by only two points in some very tight racing. The Hobie 18s saw Jake de Rooy & Alannah Simpson win comfortably after the three days of racing. This was the first time in a number of years that the Hobie 18s have raced at the Victorian Championships, and we are super excited to see them return to the fold.

The Hobie 16s saw an ultra competitive event across the board. Victorian Assoc. President Mads Gillard & husband-to-be Zac Poole finished in 15th, only one point ahead of Anglesea Commodore Kate Stanley & Ben Niblett. Nigel Beddoe & Naomi Chiu were ahead of Kenton & Jonno Shue by a single point, both pulling out of the final race of the series.

Meanwhile, all three Morris-helmed Hobie 16s finished within three points of one another. Zoe Morris & Harry Taylor (Youth) finished on 84 points; matriarch Emma Morris & Jemima Wilson (Women) finished on 82 points; finally, having only sailed three times prior to competing in Anglesea, Matilda Morris & Abi Beddoe (Women/Youth) finished on 81 points, claiming their inaugural Youth and Women's Victorian Championship in the Hobie 16s.

At the pointy end of the fleet, Paddy Butler & Bridget Raftery missed out a podium finish by only one point, as Grand Masters Champions Geoff Rowdon & Taylor Woodward finished third overall in their best regatta to date. Some believe it is his years of expertise on the Hobie 16 that could be the cause of Rowdy's exceptional performance, whilst others speculate his newfound crew to be the driving factor on the race track. Locking in the Fossil Cup, Andy & Nick Meehan once again took home the title of Great Grand Masters after a consistent performance in tricky conditions. Fighting it out till the very end and finishing their regatta with a bullet, Cam Weddell & Pip Pietromonaco finished second overall to Fletcher & Georgia Warren-Myers.

Taking out the Masters Championship and their third consecutive Victorian State Championships in the Hobie 16s, Fletch & Georgia finished their regatta with five bullets across the 10-race series.

Finally, we can confirm that the 2025 Victorian Hobie Cat State Championships will be hosted by Rosebud Yacht Club over the Victorian Labour Day weekend, with dates being 8-10, March 2025.

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