WA brings back the Hobie 14 Champs after a 30 year hiatus

This weekend will be the first Hobie 14 WA State Championships since 1993. Still hugely popular around the world, the Hobie 14 just took a bit of a break in Australia, but this season the class is making its big comeback. A healthy fleet of 55 boats raced at the recent Australian Championship with host Club Vincentia Sailing Club in NSW.

Five of those teams were from Western Australia, Peter Redway from Geraldton Yacht Club and the rest from Nedlands Yacht Club in Perth. They were Brad Quartermaine, Jason Spencer, multiple Hobie 16 Australian Champion Darren Smith and current Hobie 16 World and Australian Champion Cam Owen. Excited to see such a big fleet of Hobie 14’s old and new, the Western Australian sailors returned with an enthusiasm to kick start the fleet in their home state.

“Let’s find the old trophy, there must be one around. Dig out the history, we have sailors who’ll know. Find some more boats, spruce them up and book in an event. We can join in with the WAXIT Multihull Grand Prix!”

So far there are eight teams entered in the 2023 event, the trophy has been found and the sailors are ready to have some fun. Sailors ready to race at The Cruising Yacht Club of WA, Rockingham this weekend in the WAXIT event incorporating the Hobie 14 WA State Championships are Brad, Jason, Darren and Cam as well as Phil Epps, Mark Preedy, Bob Bruce and Suzzi Ghent who usually races with Cam Owen on the Hobie 16.

The Hobie Cat Association of WA was pleased to hear from Phil King who has no less than two Hobie 14 WA State titles to his name. Phil shares some of the history of the WA Hobie 14 fleet and provides a few fantastic photos from the 70’s and 80’s.

He says,

“Welcome back Hobie 14’s!

It was 30 years ago today, Hobie Alter taught the band to play,
They’ve been going in and out of style,
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile

30 years! Hell.

My Hobie 14 days were the best years of my sailing life. It’s as simple as that. I loved it all, but I was most at home on my 14.

For me it was 1978 to 1989. We had huge fleets at club, state, national and international levels.
The 14 was the flavor of the month for ten years. It was like the kite surfer of its day. Hobie 14’s were everywhere.
It was new, fresh, exciting. Old-world sailing was gone forever; Buried. Not only were Hobies made of new materials with innovative designs, they showed the yachting world how to run regattas – including Worlds. It was Hobies who invented short course, back to back racing.
And the one-person boat concept of the H14 meant we were free to go anywhere, be anywhere.
The racing in WA was full on. We sailed three days a week – Saturday at Whitfords, Sunday at NYC and Wednesday was twilight racing. And attended every regatta on the calendar.
Our top guys were enthusiasts – powerful young men and fast. We could charge across the reaches with inches between us, throw our boats around on a dime – laughing and yelling, pushing and driving each other. Go-abouts were tricky on those things, but our guys just dominated their boats. Pushing, shoving and thrusting their boats with total control.
There was nowhere in the world you’d rather be and nothing else you’d rather be doing.
Six of the best sailors in Australia were from WA/NYC. Every race at NYC was total competition; serious but very good times – a clash of the Titans. And Phil Smyth presided over us all. For five years he was the undisputed king of Australia. He didn’t win them all, but we always knew he was the best; He was “the great man”.
The guys from the east knew it too. Like us their commitment and involvement was total too. Their greats included Ian (Basho) Bashford, Rod Waterhouse, Curley Corlett, Tony Laurent and the Metcalf brothers. Basho was larger than life; A multiple world champion – but it was Phil Smyth he worried about. Those guys sailed all over the world, especially in the US. Hobies were huge in the USA in those days. Huge sponsored regattas at all the famous American beaches. Basho and company were young. They had no money, but they borrowed boats and slept under bridges – and just attended everything – all over the world. When you love something that much – you just make it happen.
The top guys from my time were gods. They lived for the racing; They “snuffed the battle with delight”. Phil Smyth, Mal McKercher, Robbie Binnedell, Dave Limpus, Kevin Page and Gordon Golby were rock stars – and Brad Jones who came second in the Tahiti Worlds has to be among them. I was in there somewhere too – Where else on the planet would you want to be?
(There were others who were as good, but from different eras)
The Worlds were in Tahiti, the Canary Islands, South Africa and Brazil. Our boys went to them all – and to most of the Nationals.
What an era! What a life!
By the 1990’s the Hobie 14’s turn as the flavor of the month reached its natural end. But what a “month” it was.
Of course it was only in Australia that the H14 was put out to stud. They have always maintained reasonable numbers in the US, South Africa and throughout Europe.
It’s good to see them back in WA. Well done guys.
If you guys get half as much joy out of your 14’s in 2023 as we did in our day you will have done very well.
I always think it’s good to include as many names as you can in a sailing story. To that end I offer the following list of WA’s H14 greats. I’m sure those who remember the names below will be able to attach a whole story to each name. – You get to know a lot about your sailing mates. Many of the names will bring a grin to old faces. Apologies to those I’ve missed.
Thanks for the memories.” said Phil King.

Follow the Hobie fleet in WA on Instagram and Facebook @HobieCatsWesternAustralia and on the website https://wa.hobiecat.asn.au

The WA Hobie 14 fleet from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s included:
Aileen Armstrong Geoff McLean G. Smith
Sylvester Cypelt Mal McKercher Kevin Coote
Patrick Dubois Kevin Indersmith Brad Jones
Max Mold Gordon Golby Dave Limpus
Neil Armstrong Carl Wallis C. Smith
Rid Dalrymple Brad Quartermaine David Drew
Greg Duke Darryl Auckett M. Broadbent
Allan Evans Jim Hennessy K. Hoskins
Geoff Foster Glen Bone Phil King
Laurie Foss John Lewin Joe Levitt
Peter Gillespie Barry Sanders Linc McCashney
Kevin Page Neil Cumpston Maurice Alman
Max Puddy Brandon Crawford Rob Anderson
Geoff Smith Paul Smith John Bailey
F. Spaapen Barry Winterbourne Robbie Binedell
Rob Spaapen Dick Coles Andrew Bocheneck
Tony Stopher Jim Glover Peter Craig
Basil Winterbourne J. Wallace Mal Cameron
Bevan Hill Phil Smyth Don Hannran-Smith
Len Harris

By Susan Ghent
Hobie Class Association of WA

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