The sister act of Natalie Hill and Jasmine Hill from Perth, Australia are no strangers to Hobie sailing, and in fact the waters of Weihei. Natalie and skipper Darren Smith are former Australian Hobie 16 National Champions and in 2009 Natalie crewed for former World Champion Aaron Worrall in the 2009 Weihei Cup. In the strong conditions on the last day, the pair sailed consistently to gradually pull away from the second placed team, although with only one drop allowed in the event, any major mistake could easily have seen them drop down the leader board.
Waterhouse, current Hobie 16 Youth World Champion and a former ISAF Youth World Champion set the tone for the event winning the first four races of the series. While it seemed that Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin would run away with the event, the second day, with large changes in wind strength over the course, resulted in a bottom half of the fleet finish, giving other competitors some hope for the series. However, the team finished with another two wins on the day to set them up for the series.
The silver medal went to Degunie and Roulant (FRA) with James Wierzbowski and Pip Pietromonaco (AUS) winning the bronze. The Danish team of Daniel and Nicolaj Bjornholt, themselves ISAF Youth World Silver medallists finished in ninth overall, commented that "It's been good, but a bit different to what we are used to. We hope for big waves and wind and come back and do well in the semi-finals."
During the lunch break on the final day, with competitors onshore, the local harbour master ordered all boats off the water due to an approaching cold front, including strong winds and lightening. The first part of the front hit with moderately strong winds and all sails were dropped on the boats. A second front hit later in the day, putting any thought of further racing out of the question. However, with 14 races completed for the series there were no complaints from the sailors as they celebrated at the beach bar in front of the club.
One fantastic aspect of the event has been the volunteer brigade. The event has approximately 100 volunteers from the local university to help with all manner of tasks from airport pickups to administrative tasks, to beach duties. The organising authority put out a call to the English language students at the University and were overwhelmed with 500 applicants for 100 positions. One of the volunteers, Jessica commented "I'm pleased to be a volunteer at the event, because I can serve the sailors and it's a good chance for us to meet friends from different countries and I have learnt much from them." The volunteers are a great addition to the event with every one of them keen to show Weihai in the best possible light.
Presentation to the new World Champions will be at a formal awards function this evening. Racing for the Open division starts on Monday 23 August with three days of Qualifying races.