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Bill Worrall Memorial Coaster

The sail numbers were under 10,000, Aaron Worrall was a toddler and the first Anglesea-Torquay Coaster was sailed.

It was 50 or so years ago (going by Aaron’s age at the time) and six Surf Coast sailors including Bill Worrall on 7701, Phil Stanley, Steve Hickford and Mike Hancock, really pushed the limits of their Hobie 16s, sailing just shy of the Bells Beach break.

Fast forward 50 years, and the coaster, in all her Surf Coast glory, lives on. 22 entries, mostly Hobies but thrilled to be joined by a Taipan and a Tornado, sailed a shifty and highly variable race.

Y

The weather saw the intended schedule thrown on its head, with short course racing in blustery conditions on the Saturday. Gusting southerly (well, every which way) and a large swell meant the coaster would have been treacherous.

The morning session started with a buzz. The conditions, from the beach, looked glorious. Why on earth would Fletch make such a bold call to postpone the reason we’re all here? After at least six of the 22 boats capsized before lunch, it was becoming abundantly clear. There were some glorious spills, the first of which was our National President Cam Weddell on the helm of an 18 crewed by Hobie Legend Jack Droomer. A puff of air under that symmetrical hull and dagger board put them in the drink early in the first. Rediscovering just how much more boat the limousine of the surf car world is compared to his beloved 16, we don’t envisage Cam racing an 18 at Nationals this December.

U

On the first windward leg of the second race, I had the most spectacular spill in over a year (thanks to cautious pregnant and postpartum sailing for being done with now) getting knocked off the wire and wearing a side beam between the cheeks, RIP tailbone, the wrist tangled in the main sheet, falling overboard being dragged underwater as Zac couldn’t un-cleat while I unintentionally kept the pressure on it… yeah it was a good one.

But enough about the back of the fleet. At the pointy end of the short course racing, we had the usual suspects: Fletcher and Georgia, Rowdy and Taylor, Jono and Kenton, Mai and the Tutts.

A lunch break of hearty salad rolls fuelling the sailors for a heavy afternoon race was lucky not to be revisited as the sea state climbed. The aim of the second session was “keep mast skyward” and Oli Hordern took heed, thus the podium for the arvo.

E

Torquay’s volunteers threw a glorious bbq dinner on the Sat night, as excitement for the coaster in the morning grew. The forecast was looking much kinder, and there was even concern it looked too kind for the trip to Anglesea!

Sunday morning came and there was a gentler, steadier breeze to carry the sailors to Anglesea.

Tacking all along the coast, past hallowed Bella Beach, Howard Brook on his Taipan was the first through the Point Addis gate, followed by Torquay’s own Fletcher and Georgia. Despite it being a slow old rhumb line beat, all boats got to Anglesea in good time, allowing sailors to smash some more salad rolls, before the fun really began: reaching home. Anglesea’s volunteers set the start and first buoy in what will be familiar waters to those attending Vic States in March, and Martin on his 14 turbo took advantage of the slight port bias.

R

Check out my drone footage to test your race rules: there was a contentious incident at the top mark between the Tornado and Taipan, but whose penalty is it?

Reaching and surfing down waves the whole way home meant the sailors couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces as the landed back at Torquay. This is what Hobie sailing is all about.

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Coaster

  1. Mai Hordern
  2. Oli Hordern
  3. Fletcher and Georgia Warren-Myers

Overall regatta

  1. Fletcher and Georgia Warren-Myers
  2. Oli Hordern
  3. Geoff Rowdon and Taylor