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Waterhouse & The Butler Boys | Hobie 14 World Championships, Italy

Here’s a brief history lesson…

A Hobie Cat World Championships is something that many, many of our family are already familiar with.

Whether it be last year’s extravaganza in Spain, where Team Australia’s journey at the 23rd Hobie 16 Worlds was documented through the lens of Totally Immersed TV’s ‘The Spain Files’; along with Team Australia’s Match Report. Or the infamous trip to Riveira Maya, Mexico in 2004, in what could only be described as the greatest Hobie 16 Worlds of all time.

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our most recent adventure… | Costa Brava, 2022

However, steadily pulsing along over in Europe, the Hobie 14 World Championships has been running in conjunction with the European Hobie Class Championships for the last 20 years. It wasn’t until 2013 that the Multiworlds truly came on the southern radar, when an Aussie and a Kiwi first headed to Germany, kickstarting what will be the ‘Age of the Resurgence’.

Georgia Warren-Myers placed third overall in Travemünde, solidifying her place as the first woman to ever finish on the podium at a Hobie 14 World Championships. Concurrently, Georgia became the first Aussie to win the Hobie 14 Women’s World Championship. The Kiwi, Fletcher Warren-Myers, finished in a measly sixth out of 67 boats.

The pair went on to compete in two more World Championships. In 2015, Georgia & Fletch travelled to Gargnano, Italy. Georgia went one-up from Germany, finishing second overall, along with a second consecutive 14′ Women’s World Championship. Fletch displayed monumental improvement as he continued to chase his better half, finishing third overall (solidifying his place as the first Kiwi to land on the podium). Joining the pair in Lake Garda, the girls from Victoria: Alisanne Green, Mai Hordern and Meagan Bursa finished 16th, 17th and 22nd respectively; with a big thanks to their major sponsor: Hobie Cat Australasia, backed by Steve Fields.

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Meagan, Mai, Georgia & Alisanne | Lake Garda, 2015

Heading over to The Netherlands in 2017, Fletch finally got one up on Georgia, taking out the World Championship in a regatta that saw Georgia wearing the gold jersey until the final day. Claiming her third consecutive Hobie 14 Women’s World Championship, Georgia finished with four bullets; however, it wasn’t enough to defeat Fletch. Proving once again that consistency is key.

Joining them in Noordwijk, resident Queenslander, Paul Thomas finished 20th, as Meagan Bursa came in at 26th. Representing Tanzania, but a home-grown Victorian, Andrew Boyd finished in 13th. Finally, making his debut at the Hobie 14 Worlds, Peter ‘Doogie’ McDougall finished his run in 45th in the 53 boat fleet.

Concluding our modern history lesson on the Hobie 14 Worlds, the last Championship was held in July, 2019; only a few mere months prior to the 22nd Hobie 16 Worlds in Florida, USA. Racing on the waters of La Rochelle, France, Doogie was the sole representative of the land Down Under, finishing 20th overall. However, representing Tanzania but always a part of Team Australia, Andrew Boyd once again had a stab at the title, finishing 16th in the twelve race series.

With that all said and done, it’s time to move onto a new chapter in the Resurgence…

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Georgia (2nd), Blain (1st) & Fletch (3rd) | Lake Garda, 2015

Team Australia | Cesenatico, Italy ’23

Representing the land down under for the 18th Hobie 14 World Championships we have:

  • Rod Waterhouse: 7 x Hobie 16 Masters & Grand Masters World Champion; The Hot Rod
  • Mick Butler: 7 x Hobie 14-Turbo Australian Champion, 2007 Hobie 16 World Champion; The General
  • Paddy Butler: Highest Ranked Hobie 14 – 2022 Australian Championship Tour, Quiet Achiever Award St John’s Nowra (Year 7); The Educator

Cesenatico: known for light winds, clear skies and the being next best thing to the Amalfi Coast; the location of the Hobie Class Multiworlds & Europeans is looking to be favourable for those with prowess in the light air. And from what we’ve seen so far on Tour, Paddy, MB & Rod have all had their time in the spotlight.

However, with brand new boats, unfamiliar competition, territory, and representing the largest active Hobie 14 fleet in the world, it’s about time the boys go to work.

boats on boats | Jervis Bay, 2023

The Butler Boys

When I first threw the question to MB whether or not we should campaign for the Hobie 14 Worlds (this was way back in January, post Nationals), his initial response was: “Well … what would your mother say?

A heavy amount of thought went on over the next four months. Amidst trekking from one regatta to the next (snagging a couple half-decent results here ‘n’ there), it wasn’t until the Queensland States in Bris-Vegas where we finally came to a decision. Moving further and further towards the boat end of the start line, Rod Waterhouse was the final piece of the puzzle that solidified Team Australia for ‘The Italian Job’.

“Come on, mate. We can’t let the Europeans get away with all the fun now can we?” Encouraged a gleeful Rod Waterhouse, as he and Kerry made their way south after a long weekend on Moreton Bay. 

‘The Italian Job’ was looking more and more likely by the hour. MB and I were tying the remaining boats on the quad-stacked trailer, with a dying sun sinking beyond the hills of Manly, Brisbane.

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MB, Rod, Andrew & Will | Wangi Wangi, 2023

“When was the last time we got in touch with the Europeans?” I asked MB as he threw Gavin’s sailing gear frustratingly into the Hobie van.

“Dunno”, replied an overworked MB, earnestly finishing off the last of his drink.

As I did the same, I considered the situation. Right now, we have the strongest Hobie 14 fleet in the world. We’ve got boats regularly sailing all across the country, with more women and youth getting involved by the day. Surely us Aussies are the diamond in the rough, right?

Bryn, Fletcher & Georgia, Andrew & Will, Geoff & Zak, Mai & Oli, Gav, Worsty, Tim, Bloody Leon, Dazzy, Cam & Suz; we all should be there.

now that’s a fleet | Jervis Bay, 2023

I mean, we had over 50 boats racing at the Nationals (we almost made 60), there are only 30 odd entered for Italy at the moment; this could be an opportunity for us. 

And when I say us, I don’t mean the Butler Boys. I mean for Hobie 14 Sailing in Australia. What could be more exciting, more entertaining, more exponentially beneficial for the Australian class then showing the international Hobie Family first hand how good we have it Down Under. And what better way to do that than to stir it up at the World Championships?

Turning to the old boy with all the cheekiness in the world, I said (having double checked with Mum, of course):

“(….) it, let’s do it”

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get a good start, go the right way, cover the fleet | Wangi Wangi, 2023

A Yarn w/ Rod Waterhouse

What led you back to the class and what makes Hobie 14 sailing so special?

“MB and his relentless convincing if I’m going to be honest. The new design and format of racing has been a game changer. Having the ability to helm on trapeze with the added mast rotation included allows absolutely anyone to have their moment in the spotlight; and the boat handling of these new 14s is outstanding!

“Being a one-design class with a singular rig, every helm is on the same level. Unlike the Laser 4.7, Radial etc. [ILCA 4, 6 & 7], every skipper is on the same playing, and there will always be someone of the same experience to race against.

“I’ve been telling everyone that it’s the best single handed boat on the market. Women, Youth and all the Oldies will all have their day. It’s the only class on the water that allows sailors of such variety, be it age, weight and experience, the opportunity to be competitive in all conditions. The big-fellas will have their day in the breeze, and the smaller sailors will clean up in the light air. The inclusivity is brilliant!”

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sit back, don’t relax just yet | Wangi Wangi, 2023

When & where was your first & last Hobie 14 World Championships?

“The first Hobie 14 Worlds I ever went to was in 1977 at the Canary Islands. I finished 37th out of 72 boats back then, and Kerli Corlett was the highest placed Aussie sitting in 19th overall. The 1979 Worlds would have been the last I attended on the Hobie 14, that was in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. I finished fifth in that event, whilst Ian ‘Basho’ Bashford placed third, and Phil Smythe came ninth.”

When was the last time you sailed a Hobie 14 before your grand return at the 50th Hobie Nationals?

“I think the late 80s, maybe 89ish? Actually, double checking with Kerry it was 1987.

“36 years ago, seems like yesterday…”

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full blown retro | Nedlands, 1977

How to Stay in Touch w/ Team Australia at the Hobie 14 Worlds, Italy

‘The Spain Files’ was the perfect storm. Late nights, long mornings, and the breeze that kept us waiting all day long. The results: plenty of time to rest, sift through footage and edit what was Team Australia’s perspective on the 22nd Hobie 16 Worlds.

If you haven’t already, go ahead and like/follow the Australian National Hobie Class Association (@hobieclassaustralia) on Facebook & Instagram for daily updates on how Team Australia’s trio are travelling. Most importantly, however, jump onto the Totally Immersed TV YouTube and hit that Subscribe button so you don’t miss a single update from the 2023 Hobie Class Multiworlds & European Championships.

whatever happens, happens … be seeing you all very soon

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Rod’s MIA, but this is looking pretty good | Port Melbourne, 2023