Tasmania’s past and present national and world sailing champions, Olympic and Paralympic sailors, and Australian sailing team members will be racing in this weekend’s Audi Showdown regatta on Hobart’s River Derwent.
Underlining the island State’s high status in the sport, they head a fleet of more than 120 youth and adult sailors entered for the showdown which gets under way at 10am today in predicted excellent sailing conditions.
Three of the champions, Paralympic sailor Matt Bugg and International Cadet world champions Sam Abel and Hugo Allison, are category finalists for Yachting Australia’s Sailor of the Year awards to be announced in Sydney next Friday.
The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania conducts the showdown as an early season event to provide big fleet regatta conditions in the lead-up to national championships over the Christmas-New Year period.
Many of the youth sailors competing this weekend will be heading to Sydney in late December for Australian championships for International Cadets, Lasers, Optimists, 420, 29er and other off-the-beach classes.
Sam Abel, who won the 2015 International Cadet worlds in Italy, recently turned 16 and has moved up to the International 420s while 10-year-old Hugo Allison is now crewing for William Cooper, his sight set on sailing in a fourth world championship in Cadets, next time in Argentina.
The Audi Showdown is the start of Matt Bugg’s campaign to sail in two world championships in the International 2.4mR class over the next three months: the International Federation of Disabled Sailors’ Para Worlds in Melbourne later in November followed by the 2.4mR open world championships in Hobart in January.
An interesting newcomer to this mainly adult single-handed class this weekend is 15-year-old Nicola Recape who has been prevented from sailing high performance dinghies since breaking his leg playing soccer. He will be sailing a 2.4mR boat with his leg still in plaster.
Nick Roger, a former world champion in the International Dragon class, heads a strong fleet in the SB20 one-design sports boat class, sailing Karabos.
The SB20 fleet includes many of Hobart’s most talented helmsmen, including Scott Brain, Stephen Catchpool, Michael Cooper, Richard Fader and Ollie Nicholas.
The iconic Sharpies will return to the regatta, headed by former Australian champion Drew Latham helming two Humps and a Camel with the fleet including several young crews, including brothers Ollie and Toby Burnell sailing Bonfire.
The Laser is the largest class represented in the showdown, split into three categories, Laser 4.7, Laser Radial and the Olympic Laser standard rig.
Returning to dinghies in the Laser standard rig is teenager Jock Calvert who later this year will represent Australia in the sailboard class at the International Sailing Federation’s world youth sailing championships.
The Radial class has grown rapidly this season, with former champions in Sabots and Laser 4.7s such as Sam King and Josh Ragg moving up to a bigger rig.