|MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-(29-12-2004) Officials at Port Melbourne Yacht Club (PMYC) had no alternative but to cancel all racing for the first day of the Hobie Australian and World titles on Port Phillip Bay yesterday, such were the conditions at the start of Sail Melbourne 2005.
Big gusty winds, along with high seas, swell and squally showers convinced organisers to hold the disappointed crews from around the world ashore, eventually abandoning racing for the day.
Racing got away with the Hobie Tiger start at 10.30am today on a choppy and lumpy Port Phillip Bay in 15-20 knot cold, gusty, winds – but at least the sun finally made an appearance. Race organisers intend having four races back to back today to catch up the schedule.
A number of competitors elected to stay ashore, while a number of others returned ashore unable to handle the conditions or suffering minor breakages, which some of were fixed and crews returned to the water.
It was spectacular though, when the various fleets headed downwind under spinnaker on their two courses between PMYC and St. Kilda Pier, as organisers hoped to get four or five races away during the day.
In attempt to make sailing more attractive to the public, the Hobie Tigers, contesting their Australian championships, Hobie their Youth Women and Masters titles, along with the Hobie 17 and 18 Australian and World titles are being sailed as close to shore as the conditions will allow so that spectators along the waterfront can see the colourful Hobies in action.
The public are encouraged to visit Port Melbourne Yacht Club where Corporate Vision Australia has set up plasma screens for audiences to view racing on screen from the Club. Commentary is being broadcast back to the shore so onlookers know what is happening in the four fleets – all in a friendly atmosphere where food and refreshments are available.
Over 90 entries were received across the four fleets and famous names include Australian Olympic representative Darren Bundock (NSW) a four time Tornado World champion and champion in a number of multihull events. Bundock is sailing in the Hobie Tiger class, with girlfriend Alexandra Goltz a champion 470 sailor from Germany.
Wellknown performers Mal Gray/Adrian Fawcett (Qld) are also in the Tiger fleet, as is Neville Thompson/Shamus Stevens (Qld), Mark Laruffa/Dave Silvester and Andrew Keag/Sam Reid all expected to perform well.
In the Hobie 17 class, Yachting Victoria CEO, Ross Kilborn is amongst the crews, as is PMYC Commodore, Michael Broise and Aaron Worrall, Darren Bundock’s new Tornado crew, but a winning skipper in his own right. The two will pair again for Sail Melbourne’s Olympic & Invited Classes regatta starting January 10.
Defending Australian champion, Ron McDonald (NSW) is here too, with previous multiple championship winner, Michael Kent amongst his rivals.
Those to watch in the Hobie 18’s include defending Australian champions, Neil Moxham/Joseph Gueltekin veteran skipper, John Crowther, heading to the ripe old age of 70, Shane Norris/Gordon Smith, Geoff Fiske/Sarah Hollands and Brad Sumner/Belinda Walkom, all from Australia.
Youth crews make a big dent in the Hobie 16 14 in all, including defending world champion Jerome Legal with his crew Clement Merzeau (NOU) and Taylor Booth, who with his famous father Mitch as skipper, is the current Hobie Tiger world champion. Five Women’s teams represent, led by defending world champion, Pamela Noriega with crew Andrea Mier y Teran (MEX) and there are seven crews in the Masters category, including Bruce Tardrew (Qld) who finished second at the 2003 Grand Masters Worlds.
Internationally, entries have come from Mexico, New Caledonia, Hong Kong, Noumea, Fiji, USA and New Zealand.
Those crews from New Caledonia, Noumea and Queensland are suffering from the cold Victorian summer, to the point where the local chandlery, Anchor Marine, has happily sold out of wetsuits.