The 19th Hobie 16 World Championships are just days away. Billed as one of the top international events in China following the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Shanghai World Expo, the Hobie 16 World championships will be one of the largest single class catamaran series ever to be held.
The Chinese hosts and event organisers have left nothing to chance. The new club house building and event headquarters is nearing completion while 60 new Hobie Cat® 16's have arrived on site.
The club house building will be left as a legacy for the sailing community after the championships with the General Administration of Sport of China approving it as the 'China National Catamaran Training Base', making Weihai the Hobie sailing China national training centre. It will be named the International Hobie Class Association Event and Training Centre' and cements the Hobie 16 as the premier catamaran in Asia. The Asian Sailing Federation also has confirmed the Hobie 16 for the Asian Games and Asian Sailing Championships which are held every four years.
David Brookes, Executive Director of the International Hobie Class Association, said
"The IHCA is very excited and pleased to be involved in this project. With sailing in Asia increasing we now have a permanent sailing and training base with the support of the Chinese Yachting Association and government all built by Weihai Royal Marina Sailing Club Co. Ltd. The Hobie 16 has been the catamaran of choice by the Asian Sailing Federation. With this new base we can have a central sailing base for all our Hobie sailors. Weihai is a perfect venue with its long sandy beach and clean water for Hobie racing."
The Factory Teams from Hobie Cat Australia and Hobie Cat USA are now on site to start putting together 60 new Hobie 16's. Hobie Cat Australasia's managing director, Steve Fields says, "This is an exciting time for us, to be able to prepare the boats for the sailors from around the world and to see a new Hobie Cat 16 World Champion crowned". Steve went on to say; "The city of Weihai, the Seaview Hotel staff and the China Worlds committee have been great to work with and they have gone out of their way to assist us with the running of the event at this early stage."
Hobie Cat USA's Matt Miller replied; "I must also say that the beach we are running the event from is perhaps the best beach we have had in many years! Like Steve, we look forward to running the event and seeing a new World Champion crowned."
While the event preparations are on track so are some of the best catamaran sailors from around the World for the Open series starting on 23 August.
This week Jerome Le Gal and Marco Iazzetta from New Caledonia who recently won the Hobie 16 Europeans have entered and will be amongst the favourites to take gold. Le Gal is no stranger to winning Hobie 16 World Championships being the 2004 Hobie 16 Youth World Champion. The current Hobie 16 Youth World Champion, Jason Waterhouse, will give the New Caledonians a run for the top spot having just won the 2010 F16 Euro Challenge in Lake Como, Italy and winning bronze in the Hobie 16 Europeans with his cousin Lisa Darmannin.
On the other side of the World, two Hobie 16 World champions, the current champion Mick Butler and past champion Aaron Worrall along with USA's Mike Montague, were battling it out at the South Pacific championships in Fiji with Aaron just getting the edge to win the event.
In an ominous sign for all the Hobie 16 sailors in Weihai though is the news that former Hobie 16 World Champion, Gavin Colby, and his crew Sasha Marks have lost 12 kg since they dominated the recent Australian Hobie Championships. Colby says he is "sailing faster now than when he and Sasha won the Australian Championships". And few should under-estimate four times Asian Games gold medalist, Damrongsak Vongtim, who is also looking forward to the contest.
Before the Open series there will be the Youth and Women's series and the Grandmasters and Masters series, which will bring some great competition.
Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmannin will be defending the World Youth title from some very hot competition including ISAF Youth Worlds bronze medallists Daniel and Nicolaj Bjørnholt.
In the Masters, Germany's Knud Jansen fresh from winning the European Masters will be up against South Africa's William Edwards and Australia's Rod Waterhouse while in the Grandmasters at least three past World champions - Harry Handley, Luiz G Machado and Bruce Tardrew - will be vying for the top spot.