Summer season of cat racing begins on the Swan River in Perth

Multihull sailing in Perth will kick in to gear this weekend with the annual Cat Classic Regatta. Hosted by the Hobie Class Association of WA and Nedlands Yacht Club, the event brings the catamaran community together to open the summer season. Raced on yardstick, catamarans from all classes are welcome to attend, there will be a great mix of different boats on show again this year.

The 2019 regatta will again see the Hobie 16 fleet with the largest numbers and several of the teams are only weeks away from the Hobie 16 World Championships in Florida, USA. This will be an important part of the preparation for the WA teams who are all strong competitors in the class. Fresh from a win at the European Championship in La Rochelle is the current Australian Champion team of Cam Owen and Suzzi Ghent. The closely matched pair Darren Smith and Claire Bisgood, also with multiple Australian titles and podium places at world championships will no doubt be enjoying some competitive racing with their local mates, as will the father and daughter team of Phil and Caitlin Epps representing Geraldton Yacht Club. Phil and Caitlin placed second in the 2015 Australian Championships and are certainly in the running for a top place in the event. Two-time world champion in the class, Gavin Colby will be racing his F18 for the event but looks forward to getting back on the Hobie 16 soon. All four WA teams are heading to the world championships next month.

While there is prize money up for grabs and glory of course, the event is not just about being on the podium. The catamaran community in Perth will have an enjoyable weekend of racing, socialising together and getting out on the river to participate in the sport of sailing. There are sailors of all ages and experience from youth to grand masters. While there are young crews scattered through the fleet, it is good to see Lachy Owen (13) and Tom Galloway (17) making their debut at the event this year. The young sailors have been crewing in the Hobie 16 class for many years and are ready to take on the racing together as a youth team this season.

Volunteers Paul Davis and Murray Wood have been conducting the race management for the Cat Classic for ten years and they are still having a ball. Paul says he trusts Murray to set the start line and gate marks just right, they’ve been working together on the water for so many years now, they know the boats and the ideal race track for them in all conditions. Davis says “this event is a great opportunity not only for the sailors to prepare for the worlds and the summer season but for our volunteer team to practise for the upcoming Hobie Cat Australian Championship hosted here in Perth. We will run the nationals on the ocean with Jervoise Bay Sailing Club from 30 December to 4 January. It is a beautiful beach location just south of Fremantle. I’m looking forward to getting my team in to gear this weekend in preparation for it. We are expecting a few international teams as well as our friends from around the country and we will put on an excellent post Hobie 16 worlds regatta for them both on the water and ashore.”

Plenty of colour and speed to be seen on the Swan River in Perth this Sunday and Monday. If you can’t be there to watch the action, keep an eye on social media with Hobie Cats Western Australia and local gem Lindsay Preece (Ironbark Photos) who has a soft spot for catamarans and is sure capture some of the event through his lens.
Susan Ghent
Hobie Class Association of Western Australia

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