Record numbers sign up for world championships

JUST a few weeks after winning the Hobie catamaran state championships, Vincentia sailor Mick Butler is hard at work preparing for the Hobie 16 World Championships. 

For starters, he has to build the boats. 

The 15-day world championships will kick off in Jervis Bay at the end of this month and run until February 15.

As well as being the commodore of the Vincentia Sailing Club, Butler works for Hobie Australasia, which will produce the 60 brand new catamarans to be used in the competition out of their factory at Woollamia. 

Unlike other major sailing races, where millionaires pour money into maxi-yachts, every event will be sailed with the same 60 boats supplied by Hobie International. 

“It’s the luck of the draw which boat you’ll get for your race,” Butler said. 

“It’s extra incentive to do my best on every boat, because I might be sailing in it.”

Some of the best sailors in the world will come to Jervis Bay, which is reckoned one of the five best sailing spots in the world. 

Over 400 competitors from 20 countries have signed up; more than triple the initial response for the last championship, which was held in China.  

Butler will be racing in the Masters division with his 14-year-old son, Patrick, who helped him win the state championship in 2013.

Parent and children combinations are common in Hobie racing because the light-weight catamarans need light sailors.

“There are parent/child teams, even grandparent/grandchild. The weight requirements mean a lot of women and teenagers compete which is great,” Butler said.

“But it’s really special to do a worlds with your son.”

The races will go on for 16 days as competitors work through heats and semi-finals in youth, women, masters and grand master division. 

Because there are just 60 boats for hundreds of competitors, Butler said the entire event will be action-filled.

“The boats go out, come in, the new crew madly scrambles everything they need and they’re out again in 15 minutes,” he said. 

“It’s going to be a spectacle.”

Just 10 local teams are signed up to compete, which means that hundreds of sailors and their entourage will descend on Vincentia.

“It’s going to be great for the area. If you have over 300 two person teams, many of them are bringing their family – it’ll probably be over 1000 people coming here,” Butler said. 

But for all this to happen the 60 boats have to be built on time. 

“Even if we have to work until midnight the last night it’ll get done,” Butler said.

“It’s just whether or not I’ll get any sleep before then.”

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