by Paddy Butler
The 2023 Hobie 18 and Hobie 17 North American Championship was held from 31st July to 4th August at Lake Quinault in the Olympic National Park about 3 hours east of Seattle in Washington state, USA.
Lake Quinault is a large fresh water lake surrounded by tall mountain ranges abundant in subalpine forest which cover 1,000,000 acres and the waterway is a great sailing location as there are no other boats on the lake. All competitors stay in the Rain Forest Resort and RV Campground and are within 100 yards of the boats and shoreline. Accomodation options include cabins, motel style rooms, studio apartments, an RV area and camp sites.
Next to the RV and camp ground is the World’s Largest Spruce Tree at 191 feet tall, with a 58 feet circumference and estimated to be 1,000 years old.
The Olympic National Park and nearby townships of Forks, La Push and Port Angeles are famous for being the locations of the Twilight book series written by Stephenie Meyer about vampires and werewolves.
Each day during the regatta the mountains were covered in mist in the early morning which burnt off by about 11am and the mountains heated up and sucked in an idyllic thermal breeze each afternoon allowing four races to be comfortably sailed each day.
In the Hobie 18 fleet there were 25 entries from 3 countries (USA, Canada, Australia). This was the largest Hobie 18 fleet in the last 20 years. 18 teams were mixed crews (male/female) and one female skipper (Brishen Holmes-Slattery – 20th overall). Two crew members were 14 years old. Zoe Freer 4th overall and Elianna Sutcliffe 7th overall. Notable entrant in the Hobie 18 fleet was three time Olympian and seven times catamaran world champion John Forbes from Australia sailing with his wife Caroline Forbes. John normally sails with his daughter Bronte but unfortunately Bronte couldn’t make it to this regatta so Caroline stepped in to sail a regatta for the first time in their 37 year relationship.
15 races were held over four days with only one drop race. Interestingly, if there had been two drop races the top 12 places would not have changed.
The new licensed Hobie Cat manufacturer Starting Line Sailing made available again new sails for the Hobie 18 class and were kind enough to release a new colour combination just for this North American Championship called Quinault Sunset which many teams took the opportunity to purchase just prior to the event.
John & Caroline Forbes won eight out of the fifteen races but it could have been more had John not hit the first mark of Race 1 whilst leading the fleet and lost 10 places whilst doing the 360 degree penalty. No other team dominated like the Forbes’ with four different heat winners in the other seven races.
For the full report, please visit here