It was another glorious week up on Lake Macquarie for the annual Combined High Schools (CHS) Sailing Championships, held at the ever-glamourous, Belmont 16s Sailing Club. Out of the 52 mixed boat fleet, five were taken up by Hobie Cats, sailed by some fresh-faced Hobie sailors, along with some well-seasoned Cowboys.
On the Hobie 14 ‘Sur Ganji’ (FKA ‘Green ‘n’ Gold), was the Young Gun, Bryn Robinson-Mills. Coming off a third at the VIC Hobie States, he was sure to be a force to be reckoned with. Also on the Hobie 14 and from the Vincentia Sailing Club, was Oliver Lawson, who shadowed by his old man, was seen scooting around the race course as the breeze inevitably picked up.
On the Hobie 16, seasoned CHS sailor, Noah Skewes, was lucky enough to hitch a ride on the helm of the Fisher’s boat, where Hayley Fisher is confirmed by multiple sources to be the one in charge. In their first official regatta sailing as a H16 team, we are beyond excited to see who the pair develop over the course of the regatta.
And finally, the Hobie Dragoons have made their maiden voyage on Lake Macquarie. Both boats from Jervis Bay where sailed by first time CHS sailors, where they were observed to be in full ‘send-it’ mode like a Quinn-Dog with a beer in hand. On ‘Meatlug’, ‘Jimmy the Kid’ Winchester was on the helm, with Charlotte Ellis, who is competing in her first ever regatta, was telling Jimmy what to do from the front of the boat. On ‘Seashocker’, Brody ‘Quicksticks’ Watt was in fine form for his first regatta on the helm, coming off some quality tutelage from the one and only, Doogie, down in Twofold Bay. After his initial crew, Rose, was called into isolation, Brody was lucky enough to pick up local legend and experienced Flying 11 sailor, Noah, who jumped on the front of the Dragoon with ease.
Unfortunately for our Cowboy Sailors, a term first coined a number of years ago at this very same regatta, there wasn’t a breath of wind. So, in our Cowboy Racing spirit, the Hobie team travelled up the road to race some fierce electric Go-Karts. There were plenty of thrills, and even more spills as the Grommets, along with their head-wannabe-Coach, shot around the indoor Go-Kart track at full noise.
Racer of day went to Bryn who maintained the fastest average race time, where the fastest time was take by Butler by a mere six-tenths of a second. However, the special acknowledgement goes to Zoe Ellis, who managed to race cleanly around the track, finishing easily within the top half of the fleet.
The second day of sailing was met with a 10-15 knot south-wester, that eventually filled in blissfully from the south-east, providing phenomenal sailing conditions for our intrepid Hobie sailors.
Over the course of the day, two races were held in what was to be the breeze all regatta. Unfortunately for our Dragoon sailors, racing on a trapezoidal course for the first time, they wandered of course in the first race, yet finished strongly in the second.
Noah and Hayley on the 16 displayed outstanding boat speed throughout the day, making it clear to all the monohulls what vessel was the most fun and exciting in the steady breeze.
It was Bryn however who truely put on a show, snagging two bullets in the two races of the day. Bryn’s performance and growth as a sailor this year, compared with that on ‘Bad Becky’ in 2021, is something all Hobie sailors should be worrying about…
The humble Hobie 14, ‘Sur Ganji‘, consistently defeating all other classes of boat on a fair yardstick was truely satisfying to the catamaran sailor. It is something the CHS has not seen since the Hobie 16, ‘Jeff‘, sailed by Will ‘Mr Fabulous’ McKenzie and Coach Butler held the leaders jersey after a 15knot Seabreeze many years before.
The third day of sailing was stock standard CHS weather. A light, fickle southerly that turned NW, then went to the east, before deciding to completely die out, leaving out sailors stranded on the water.
However, looking through the binoculars from the Belmont 16s clubhouse with a beverage in hand, the Coach could tell there was no frustration out on the water. Dragoon crews were swapping out for monohull sailors, Bryn was picking up a few extra passengers on the paddle home, whilst Oliver was making bank by collecting as many cans as he could find floating in Lake Macquarie.
As our sailors rocked up to Belmont 16s for the final day of sailing, they were met once again with a light southerly blowing steadily across the Lake. So, as the overly excited youngsters began hitting the water for the final time, the Coach, along with all the parents, hit the Belmont 16s balcony for a cuppa and a pie.
A whopping three, lengthy races were held over the duration of the day, as the CHS officials endeavoured to reach a total six races, ensuring all sailors received a drop of their worst race.
As the wind continued to shift during all three races, our intrepid Hobie sailors persevered during what was an incredibly long, hard day on the water. And as they hit the shore for the final time, they were all still wearing same mischievous grins they had when they first arrived.
How’d they go, and where to next?
The Young-Gun, the Silent Assassin, and the current youth Hobie 14 champion, Bryn, finished the regatta third overall, coming dangerously close to taking out the entire championship. With six races held over four days, and two bullets to count to his overall score, BRM was clearly in fine form throughout the duration of the regatta, and coming of a third in the Victorian State Championships, it’s only a matter of time until he begins moving up the Hobie sailing ranks.
As a Hobie 16 team, the sky’s the limit for Noah and Hayley. Their starts amongst the skiffs could be debating, however, their boat speed on the water as the breeze built was terrific. It was blindingly clear on the shore that these two were bouncing on the walls on the 16. We can’t wait to see where they go to next.
Oliver Lawson, in his final CHS Regatta, was unmissable on the water. Whether it be on the race course, or searching for cans floating in the lake, Oliver attitude to sail without a care in the world is one that we all should aspire to throughout our lives.
Now as we turn to the kids on the Dragoons, we must acknowledge that for Brody and Charlotte, this was their first regatta sailing as Youths, after only joining the VSC less than three months ago. And for Noah, this was the first time he ever sailed a catamaran, and he absolutely nailed it. And finally, Jimmy the Kid has continually displayed his ability to keep improving with time spent on the water, whilst his confidence on the helm continues to grow.
With the Australian Hobie Cat Nationals due to commence later this year in Jervis Bay, and multiple other events taking place later this year, we are super excited to see where these teens go in their future sailing adventures.