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28 October 2005, 09:54 am
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Hobie 16 World Championship 2005
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Hobie Cat 16 World Championship, presented by Chevrolet, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa fell from one extreme to the other, as the wind dropped from 46 to five knots within three days. The women and youth teams completed three races in total and the masters and grand masters only one, but it was enough to decide the titles with victory going to the pre-race favourites.
Yesterday the French youngsters grabbed two titles with Morgana LAURANCY and Marion PENNANEACH taking the honours in the women's class and the current European Champions Céder BADER and Yann MONTOYA in the youth. Past World Champion Blaine DODDS and his daughter Roxanne from South Africa won the Masters, whilst the Australians Bruce TARDREW and Sarah TURNBULL were world's best Grand Masters of 2005.

Youth - Mission Almost Completed

BADER and MONTOYA had already won the 2005 Europeans Hobie 16 Youth and Open in Heiligenhafen, Germany, and now they can add the Youth World title to their list of achievements. According to BADER though there is still more to come, 'Our goal for South Africa is to win the Youth and to finish top five in the Open Championship.'

They finished in second and first position in Wednesday's wild conditions. Although they prefer strong winds, the French pair managed to stay in the lead in yesterday's light circumstances. BADER commented, 'We were seventh at the first upwind mark and fourth by the second time we passed it. The wind was shifty and decreasing. We had some troubles with rounding the upwind mark, since it was positioned close to the surf.'

The 2004 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Champions in the Hobie 16 Tom PHIPPS and Jon COOK (GBR) came back from a fifth to a second position overall, due to a second place in race three. Juani MAEGLIE and Cristina GUIROLA from Guatemala won the bronze.

Women - Gold On The Finish Line

'We could just barely stay ahead of the Mexican girls at the finish line,' said LAURANCY after her victory. She and her crew PENNANEACH, Hobie 16 European Women Champion in 2004, finished fourth in the last race, which was good enough for the Hobie 16 Women World title 2005. PENNANEACH related, 'We started as the very last boat, but we passed many teams in the second downwind leg, by making use of the waves.'

The French girls have not sailed on a Hobie 16 for a year, because they switched to match racing. LAURANCY explained, 'I think it helped us to improve our racing abilities.' The competition was close with the other French team of Marie DUVIGNAC and Pauline THEVENOT, but unfortunately, they started their Championship with an OCS, which threw them out of the battle for gold. But they did not give up and won the last two races. The 2004 Hobie 16 Women World Champion Pamela NORIEGA and her crew Andrea MIER Y TERAN from Mexico dropped to the third place, as the South Africans Belinda HAYWARD and Kim WILKINSON-DAVIES climbed up to the second position. It was only half a year ago that they had teamed up for the Hobie Worlds 2005 as HAYWARD explains, 'We found a sponsor and trained four weekends on the sea in Cape Town. The rest of the time, we sailed on the ponds around Johannesburg. Before that, I had not sailed for eleven years. We were hoping for gold, but nobody told us how good the youngsters are. Especially the European teams.'

Masters And Grand Masters - Real Survivors

Although they completed only one race, the Masters and Grand Masters proved to be real survivors. On Wednesday, they struggled in the extreme conditions with strong wind and high waves. Yesterday, they floated over the swell without pressure in their main sails, waiting for a little breeze. It did not happen and they had to return to the Hobie Beach, surfing the waves. Yesterday morning, wave ski's and swimmers were needed to pull the Hobie 16s through the surf. There was a high short break with probably five knots of wind, which is not a good combination. The race committee postponed the race initially, but once the youth and women teams were out on the water, the wind started to shift. As a result, the race had to be cancelled and the postponement flag went up again. Meanwhile, the Masters and Grand Masters discussed the strategy for the boat swap. Some of them decided to go for a ride with the jet ski and change cats on the sea.

Wild First Racing Day

Wednesday 26 October started with a calm breeze from the north, blue skies and lots of sun. Music resounded over the Hobie Beach. The Masters and Grand Masters got the honour to start off the 2005 Hobie Cat 16 World Championship. Just before their first race, the wind already shifted to the east and started to pick up. At the end of the morning, the H16s were swapped with the youth and women teams, who completed two races in row. By the time the Masters and Grand Masters left the beach for their second race, the wind had increased to more than 20 knots. Getting to the starting line caused some problems. The brand new Hobie 16s capsized all over the place, even under the pier. Some teams decided to return after multiple nose dives, and others continued. But all of them had trouble managing the extreme conditions, with wind gusts up to 35 knots and huge waves. Sailors were washed off the trampoline. In the mid-afternoon, the race committee cancelled the race and all boats arrived safely back on the beach.

The three day open qualifier for the 17th Hobie Cat 16 World Championships will start today. The top 112 teams will go to the semi finals, starting on 31 October.

Diana Bogaards (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Action from the Masters in Port Elizabeth:© Pierrick Contin
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