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Hobie Cat Turns 50 | SA Champs on Top

by Ingrid Hale

Hobie Cat turns 50 this weekend, with celebrations taking place in California, where the brand was born, and all over the world. Even South Africa is hosting a celebration regatta this weekend. But what many people don’t know is that South Africa still boasts the most number of Hobie Cat world champions! Blaine Dodds is South Africa’s most-decorated Hobie world champion, having won 4 world champion titles.

More than four decades of Hobie world champions are from South Africa

The ’70’s and ’80’s
  • 1978 Mick Whitehead and his son Colin, aged 13, won the Hobie 16 Worlds in South Padre Island, Texas.
  • 1983 The second Hobie 18 Worlds in Hyeres, France, was won by Australian Brett Dryland with South African Robbyn Whitehead as his crew.
  • 1987 The eighth Hobie 14 Worlds were held in Mauritius. Allan Lawrence won with David Kruyt third, William Edwards fourth, Blaine Dodds fifth, Colin Hancox seventh, Shaun Ferry eighth, Gerhard Koper 10th, Jan Tucker 12th, Damian Johnson 13th, Ren Brandt 15th and Paul Thomas 16th.
  • 1989 The first Women’s Hobie 16 Worlds were held in Chicago. Belinda Klaase and Desi Moon placed fourth.
The ’90’s
  • 1991 The ninth Hobie 16 Worlds were held at Club Mykonos, Langebaan and won by Kruyt and Michelle Le Sueur. Dodds and Steve Arnold were runners up with William Edwards and Tony Gradwell in third place.
  • 1993 The ninth Hobie 16 Worlds were held in Guadeloupe. The top spot was taken by Ferry and Shelly Polson.
  • 1994 SA competed in the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU) Worlds in La Rochelle, France. The Women’s Hobie 16 class saw Belinda Klaase and Margot Brache finish second and Lisa Holman and Judith Herald third. The Open Hobie 16 category was won by Dodds and Arnold with Ferry and Alison Lewis third.
  • 1996 The Hobie 16 Women’s Worlds in Dubai had four South African teams in the fleet of 20 boats. Inge Schabort and Gillian Anley finished third. Husband-and-wife team William and Lucinda Edwards finished second in the Open Hobie 16 fleet.
  • 1997 A Hobie 16 Masters International Cup was held in Sotogrande, Spain and was won by Eric Cook and Julie Cook.
  • 1998 The ISAF Sailing World Championships took place in Dubai. Schabort and Anley won the Women’s Hobie 16 event while Ferry and Lewis won the Open division.
  • That year a large contingent of South Africans headed to Australia for the Hobie 16 Worlds, won by Dodds and Arnold. The Masters International Cup saw Cook and Robert Edouard-Betsy take second place.
  • 1999 The first Hobie Tiger Worlds were held at Lake Garda in Italy. Lawrence and Gordon McGillivray finished second.
The 2000’s
  • 2005 The Hobie 16 Masters International Cup was won by Dodds and his daughter, Roxanne. In the Hobie 16 Grand Masters International Cup, Lynda Paarman and Harry Handley (NZ) were runners-up with Cook and Edouard-Betsy third. In the Hobie 16 Open Worlds, Ferry and Le Sueur beat the Dodds team into second place.
  • 2007 In Fiji for the Hobie 16 Women’s World Championship, Hayward and Janine Kruyt finished second while the Dodds team won the Hobie 16 Masters International Cup.
  • 2008 The sixth Hobie Tiger and third Hobie Dragoon Worlds were held in Langebaan. No South Africans made the podium for the Tigers, but the Dragoon event was won by Matthew Whitehead and Megan du Plessis. Ewald Erasmus and Riccardo Suttner-Scalco were second, with Petrus Smith and Ewie Loubser third.
  • 2014 It was off to Australia again for the Hobie 16 Masters and Grand Masters International Cup. The Edwards team won, followed by Dodds and daughter Roxanne. In the Hobie 16 Grand Masters International Cup, Blaine Dodds and Thorin Zeilmaker placed second.
  • 2015 The eighth Hobie Tiger Worlds were held in Italy. William Edwards and Douglas Edwards were first, followed by Blaine and Peter Dodds, and Ferry with Lee Hawkins.
  • That year William and Lucinda Edwards competed in the Hobie 16 Pro-Sail Invitational event in Germany, where one team from 10 countries is invited to attend. They won.
  • 2016 The 21st Hobie 16 Worlds were held in China. The Edwards couple finished third in the Masters division.

What our world champs have to say about the Hobie Way of Life

Blaine Dodds, multiple world champion

Blaine Dodds

To me, Hobie sailing/racing has meant a lifetime of visiting exotic locations, making friends all over the world, racing hard and, most importantly, having fun. Competing internationally I got a taste of the real Hobie Way of Life, meeting up with friends at exotic places and generally having fun on and off the water.

When my daughter Roxanne turned 13 she became my permanent Hobie 16 crew and she still is today. Together we’ve won numerous Hobie 16 nationals, competed in four world championships and excelled mainly in the Masters category, obtaining two firsts and two seconds. This has been a very special time as it afforded me time to bond with my young daughter.

In 2004 I started sailing Hobie Tigers with my son, Peter, winning eight nationals and finishing second, third and ninth in the four world championships we competed in. We also enjoyed competing in ‘international raids’ (long-distance races in Malawi, Tanzania and Zanzibar) and winning all of them. It has been a privilege to share these special times with my son as I have done with my daughter.

This is one of the unique facts of Hobie sailing – enjoying time with family while racing. In total I’ve competed in 30 world championships and achieved 15 podium places. I’m very thankful to my various crews for their friendship, fun and hard work during the past 45 years of competitive sailing as well as my lovely wife June.

Inge Schabort, ISAF Sailing World Championships Women’s Hobie 16 Champion

Inge Schabort and Gillian Anley at the ISAF World Champs

The Hobie Way of Life has been a source of and reason for adventure, adrenaline, excitement, fun, friendship, family, competition, continuous learning, humour, sportsmanship, teamwork, motivation, perseverance and love for the ocean. It has given me the energy to try harder, be better, stay focused and willing to move out of my comfort zone. Taking part at an ISAF Worlds is inspiring as you’re surrounded by brilliant sailors, some of whom go on to compete in America’s Cup events and the Volvo Ocean Race.

Shaun Ferry, ISAF Sailing World Open and Hobie 16 World Champion 

Shaun Ferry sailing with Michelle Le Seuer at the Hobie Cat Worlds in Port Elizabeth.

Sailing has allowed me to travel all over the world. I’ve been competing since the age of 14 (my first Hobie Worlds was in Hawaii), something most kids only dream of. The sport has allowed me to make close friends both locally and abroad, which is known as the extended Hobie family. It’s amazing to be part of it, and those bonds still exist. Wins have taught me that with good planning, putting your head down and building a solid campaign, anything is possible.

 

 

William Edwards, multiple world champion

William Edwards

My dad said I could sail a Hobie 14 when I weighed 150 pounds, so I proceeded to eat my way into Hobies. As kids we camped on our boats and raced every weekend. My mates and I pushed each other to the limits in all conditions, even writing off a boat or two at Nahoon Reef, East London. The most important thing was that we remained mates. As a result of sailing in big fleets every weekend, we found that we were able to make a big impact on the international scene – and we did. Our mates now extend to the far corners of the world. Once you’ve attended a Hobie Worlds, you just keep going back for more. When Lucinda came into my sailing life she jumped in right beside me and we’ve been sailing together ever since. Doug and Pips were born in wetsuits and what fun it is to compete and sail together.

Mick Whitehead, Hobie 16 World Champion

Mick and Colin Whitehead win the Hobie 16 World Championships in 1978

The Hobie Way of Life shaped a culture, revolutionised sailing and gave anybody and everybody an opportunity to create friendships, experiences and memories that last a lifetime.

Colin Whitehead, Hobie 16 World Champion 

Hobie’s motto as regards his lifestyle is: ‘If it is fun, it is not work.       If it is not fun, it won’t work.’ The Hobie Way of Life has touched many families across the globe. The sport has always attracted like-minded, highly competitive, fun-loving people. Friends and families compete together and enjoy the sport of sailing while forming friendships that last a lifetime. Participating in competitive racing across the globe, with your best mates, in exotic destinations, is something that has drawn us together and kept the spirit of Hobie alive. I would not trade these experiences for anything in the universe. I hope that this article will inspire many more sailors and nonsailors to join the Hobie Way of Life. Have a Hobie day!

Matthew Whitehead, Hobie Dragoon World Champion

South Africa’s Matthew Whitehead and Michael Ovenstone competing in the SL 16 Open Multihull class at the 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship. David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race/onEdition<br

Being introduced to sailing when I was a toddler was the greatest thing my parents could’ve done. The memories and experiences I’ve got out of Hobie sailing will last forever and I’m so grateful to have grown up living the Hobie Way of Life. There’s no other sailing class I know of that can be sailed at so many different levels, from local Grand Prix to world championships.

David Kruyt, Hobie 16 World Champion

David Kruyt and Michelle Le Seuer win the 1990 Hobie Cat World Championships in Club Mykonos, Langebaan, South Africa.

At 54, I’m still sailing a Hobie every weekend as I did when I was 16. The Hobie Way of Life will never die. Sailing has blessed me and my family and it’s my absolute pleasure to have been able to give back to the sport every day while being in Nigeria. We can thank Hobie Alter for providing us with a boat that’s stood the test of time. We salute you Hobie!

 

Allan Lawrence, Hobie 14 World Champion

Allan Lawrence at the Hobie Cat Worlds in Club Mykonos, Langebaan, South Africa

The Hobie Way of Life has brought people into my life with a simlar passion for watersports and fun, and the competitive edge that only racing high-speed catamarans can bring. I’ve grown up racing a group of esteemed sailors in SA for the last 40 years. This close competition made us all top-class competitors over the years. The SA Hobie fleet is sometimes more competitive than an international one. Through the sport I’ve travelled extensively to international regattas and exotic places. I’ve made lifelong friends through Hobie sailing in SA as well as around the world. We may not see each other for months or even years, but when we get together its like we saw each other last week.

 

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