Series 1 of the 2020 Hobie Mini-Mega North American Championships is the Hobie 14 and Hobie Wave.
FROM THE RC VESSEL
Day 1 of the Wave and Hobie 14 North American Championships started out like the last few days I have been here, light breeze out of the ENE. By the time we had finished the Competitors’ meeting and were out on the water for our scheduled 11:30 first shape the breeze had done its daily walk to the right and was filing in from the SSE at 140 degrees. It was to be a stellar day with a beautiful blue sky, plenty of sun with some big puffy clouds, temperature in the mid to upper 70’s and the breeze averaging 12 knots with gust to 17-18 knots at times.
We decided to use just one Weather mark instead of our normal short Weather mark for the Waves and it was a good call. We had to do a bit of adjusting as the day went on to keep the fleets separated but all went well. We started the Waves first followed by the Hobie 14s all day. In the first race we set the Weather mark at 0.6 nm at 140 running them on a Course 1 and the Hobie 14s were really catching the Waves with the first 4 Hobie 14s finishing with top 10 line honors. In the second race we stretched the Weather mark to 0.75 nm to allow for a longer weather leg in an attempt to keep the fleets apart. Well, it looked good in theory, but Mark Ralph from Texas caught the entire Wave fleet winning line honors and the first 6 Hobie 14s were top 10 line honors. We were putting 1 minute between the starting sequences, so we decided to make that 2 minutes and that worked much better. In races 3 and 4 the lead Hobie 14s were
The entire rest of the day was sailed to a Weather mark at 0.75 at 140 degrees running course 1s. We got 5 races in with a good mix of top finishers although it looks like the top 3 in each class are starting to pull away from the pack. We had some local excitement as they are building some oyster beds on the Gulf side of Deer Island so there is a barge running in and out of the Biloxi channel that we are crossing with the breeze from this 140 direction. TL and Al on the Weather mark boat are getting a daily visit from the pilot boat captain just to be sure we are aware.
Well, the weather seems to be holding true for today and tomorrow with a front moving in for the beginning of the Hobie 17, Hobie 18 and Hobie 16 Women’s championships later in the week. That’s it for now.
Day 2 of the Hobie Wave and Hobie 14 NAC was another successful day of competitive racing. The day started just as day 1, a light breeze out of the ENE with an anticipated right shift to the 140-150 direction. Once on the water the breeze was settling in a bit left of the anticipated direction and we finally set up on a 120 degree bearing. We set the starting area a bit further to the west to avoid crossing the working barge channel which was a blessing since they were coming and going all day long. Race 6 was started in an average breeze of 9.2 knots with the Weather mark set up 0.7 nm at 120 degrees. During the race the cloud cover was building and the wind was diminishing. After the race the wind dropped to a point where sailing against the rising tide was not going to be any fun so we decided to take a break and led the competitors to shore with Lima flying from the RC vessel. Once at the shoreline we raised AP on the beach and sat at anchor while our Weather mark boat stayed out on the course monitoring the conditions
After about 30 minutes or so we got the call from TL on the Weather mark that the breeze was starting to fill in from the 130-140 direction as the clouds began to break up and the sun came back out. We pulled anchor and got ourselves back in position and set the course to a freshening 140 degree breeze. AP was dropped on shore after the competitors had a nice hour or so break. Once the fleets arrived back on the course the wind decided to play games again as a few clouds began to fill in over us. We waited and once we could see clear skies approaching and a bit of darker water coming down the course we got into sequence and started race 7. With the lighter and softer breeze we set the Weather mark at 0.6 nm not knowing if we were in for a building or dying breeze. Well, the breeze lightened after the Wave start and then started to build again for the 14 start. We let the race run its course and low and behold the average breeze was 7.1 knots and the race completed without issue.
Race 8 was started straight away after all competitors finished and the line was reset. This was to be a very competitive race with many lead changes at the turning marks. The leaders seem to continue to find their groove and stretch their distance in the standings. The breeze held steady in direction with an average speed of 9.5 knots gusting to 13.
At the conclusion of Race 8 there was some confusion as the competitors figured we were done for the day since it after 1630 but there was still breeze and we decided to go for Race 9. As we setup for the race we had one competitor question our judgement stating the wind was forecast to die at 1800. Oh well, we went for it. No sooner did we start the Waves the breeze began to die…was this competitor somehow in the know? Oh well, we let it run and continued with starting the 14s. It turned out to be a great race with many photo finishes and the competitor with the dying at 1800 knowledge winning the race (he owes us a beer). This was the final race of the day and was run with a steady breeze of an average of 8.7 knots to a setting sun. We were all back on the beach before 1800 after a beautiful day of sailing.
The top 3 in each fleet seem to be continuing their separation from the rest of the fleet but the championships are still up for grabs. There are some pretty large point thowouts between them and one bad race by any of the leaders can really shake up the final finishing order. Well, tomorrow is still forecast to be a carbon copy of today so we shall see. That’s all for now.
The final day of the Hobie 14 and Wave NAC started like every other day, light wind out of the NE. We got on the water for a scheduled 1100 first shape and the wind was soft out of 070 and set the Weather mark 0.6 nm from us. The Waves got off to in the light breeze and just as the Hobie 14s were setting up the wind went hard right….that and a small equipment malfunction on the Starting Vessel forced us in to a General Recall during which we were able to square up the line. The 14s went off and the breeze gradually went to very, very, very light…the competitors were still moving about the course so we figured we would let the time limit rule the roost. Fortunately, the breeze filled in lightly from the ENE and everyone finished within the time limit and interestingly enough the leaders were still leading the pack in this mess.
The breeze kept its march to the favorite 140 bearing and we set up for the rest of the day. Weather mark was set up at 0.7 nm and we started the Hobie 14s first for the next 3 races. It turned into a great day of sailing with the breeze averaging about 9 knots with gusts up into the mid teens. At the end of the day we had new Hobie 14 and Hobie Wave champions. Mark Ralph pretty much dominated in the Hobie 14 class while we understand the Hobie Waves came down to the last race with Greg Thomas pulling out the win.
Back on the beach stories of barges, shrimp boats and close competition ensued. The Ocean Springs Yacht Club made a very nice buffet dinner for the final/welcome party as we all gathered in the club and down on the lower deck. The Class Association had its Carlton Tucker Sportsman of the Year trophy presentation with this years winner being Jane Sherrod. Bag pipes played and all the competitors cheered for Jane. It was a beautiful moment. With all the results being announced and trophies given out it is now time to focus on the Hobie 16 Women, Hobie 17 and Hobie 18 NACs starting Thursday. Well, another championship or two are in the books. That is all for now
Hobie RC Vessel signing off
Drone photo credits Adam Atherton