This year’s Hobie 16 Nationals, originally to be held over the Easter weekend was moved to the following long weekend, and fortunately so as the country watched on while Durban endured severe flooding over Easter, and Mozambique was hit by Cyclone Kenneth, it’s second for the year. The Durban organisers promptly assured the entrants that the weather had eased in time and was looking great for the regatta, and that the sailing was still on!
Most out of town sailors arrived Friday evening in time for registration, and a quick catch-up over a beer and bite at the temporary Point Watersports Club adjacent to the Durban Harbour entrance, while some of the Jo’burg sailors arrived later that night or early the next morning. A total of 21 entrants were expected.
Saturday’s racing kicked off in moderate conditions with 8-10 knots of wind and relatively gentle seas. The littered ocean proved to be a bit of an obstacle course though, with various items being spotted by sailors; from toothbrushes, to buckets, to entire trees floating on top of the water. The flooded rivers had emptied their bankside contents into Durban Bay, but fortunately the debris noticeably subsided with each day of racing as the rubbish washed ashore. Luckily Peter Hall was able to arrange a construction vehicle to grade Vetch’s Beach which made a considerable difference. Saturday’s start line proved to be port start bias, adding some excitement to the first 2 races of the day. By the end of Saturday the required 4 races per day had been sailed, and most sailors commented on the consistent changing around of positions throughout the day, indicating that this was going to be another close regatta. The results that evening indicated the same, with Paul & Jayden Lagesse in first position, and Blain & Roxanne Dodds only 1 point behind.
Sunday’s wind was forecast between 10-14 knots, with the swell starting to pick up slightly. There were a couple of chancers on the various start lines, with an OCS & U-Flag given, and 1 or 2 360’s carried out. Another 4 races were sailed and all seemed on track for the maximum 16 races. Due to a later start Sunday morning, the last 2 races of the day were shortened by the committee boat, which lead to some confusion, and a number of the leading boats missing the finish and having to turn back to finish further down the fleet. 3 Requests for Redress were handed in later that evening…
Monday’s conditions were much the same as Sunday with a slight increase in wind, & five races were sailed that day. Local sailors Garth Louden & Robbie Edouard Betsy managed to get 2 firsts on Garth’s brand new boat and were looking more and more likely to secure third place, while the rest of the fleet continued to swop positions.
Tuesday’s wind was back down to 8-10 knots with a considerably larger swell, resulting in lumpy seas. The remaining 3 races were left to be sailed. But before racing could start the results of the previous evening’s Protest Hearing started doing the rounds. 3 boats had been granted redress, with their positions corrected to that held at the leeward mark, and all other positions adjusted accordingly. This quickly sparked a mass gathering on the beach, led by [Uncle] Mike Goodyear & co., followed by much banter, and a Group Appeal being submitted against the Protest Decision! Mostly it was in good spirits though; rather entertaining to some, & quite informative to others. Finally the Hobies headed out to the committee boat. Race 1 & 2 of the day were both won by Garth & Robbie, still on their winning streak, while Race 3 was abandoned at the bottom mark with only Paul & Blain managing to finish. An irate fleet battled their way home through rough swell, and virtually no wind, some even sailing backwards.
After a quick pack-up & clean-up prize giving was held on the beach under the Hobie Gazebo. Blain gracefully stepped down this year and proudly watched on as Paul & young Jayden were awarded the 2019 Championship, their first. Well done to the new Champs!
It should be mentioned that while it was noticeably a smaller fleet this year, it remained competitive; with a large number of younger sailors taking part, as well as one international sailor, Andrew Boyd who flew in from Scotland as part of his training for the Florida Worlds. Mention goes out to the two youngest sailors, Jayden Lagesse (10), & Adam Nurse (12), for competing in their first & second Nationals respectively, and for braving rough seas and the odd swim. And a very big thank you to Carolynn Butler & her team of Durban sailors, volunteers and sponsors for putting together another successful Nationals. We look forward to seeing your much awaited new clubhouse on Vetch’s Beach.