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About the Series

The First Hobie 16 Worlds

It all started on Monday, November Ist 1976. The initial two days of competition were devoted to qualifying races for those teams yet to earn their spot to compete in the final event. Fifty-one entries came from all over the world already prequalified, leaving open another 33 slots to unqualified skippers. A total of 77 teams were on hand to race during those first two days in hope of filling one of the remaining chances at the title.

Two races were staged on Monday, “kona” conditions prevailed, with the wind blowing from the south at 5 to 10 knots. The third through sixth races of the qualifying series were run on Tuesday, with wind increasing through the day from 5 to 15 knots, steady from the west. Total points were tallied for the entire six race series to determine the qualifiers.

Wednesday, the first day of championship racing, was dramatic. Eighty-four teams would compete through Friday (each team racing twice per day) for the final cut. Wind for the first two races was a stiff 18 to 20 knots, increasing for the third and fourth races to small craft warning intensity of 25 knots with gusts over 30 knots. These last two races proved to be almost too challenging, boats flipped at every mark, sails were damaged, and it took plain strength and courage just to finish.

The third race turned into a matter of survival as one of the teams turned turtle and crew member Steve Crawford was nearly drowned when trapped by his trapeze wire, tangled around his ankle and holding him two feet under water. Only quick thinking on the part of Crawford’s skipper, Keith Logan, who dived under giving Crawford breaths of air, as he hung trapped under the boat, and the unselfish abandonment of their own race position by Russ Eddington and Jim Black of California, who shot across the course to render assistance, saved Steve’s life.

Altogether 17 boats did not finish in the four races of the day.

The Hawaiian winds continued to batter the Hobie sailors on Thursday. Ranging from 20 to 25 knots, with gusts to 35 knots, the forceful winds persisted as the major factor in the competition. Boat repair on the beach between races was a mad scramble. Many boats flipped in each race, sometimes only to go over again after being righted. Undaunted but unbelievably tired, the crews continued to race. Hobie Alter chose to sail one race without a jib, and almost 25% of the boats in the last race sailed with reefed mains, to reduce the power of the sail. Competition was keen, the challenge served only to knit the international contestants closer together as they shared strategy and reports on the beach between their struggles on the water.

The top five teams to watch for were becoming apparent. As of Thursday night, they were Froome and Driscoll of Hawaii, Loufek and Canepa of California, Hutchings and Lynn of Hawaii, and two Australian teams-Horsley/ Forbes, and Bray/Joyce.

The gods relented and competition continued on Friday under much less severe conditions. Winds ranged from 5 to 20 knots, considerably more gentle than during the week but still blowing inconsistently with devastating gusts. The scheduled four races were held, series scores for each team were compiled from the skippers’ best five races, and the top half of the field , 42 teams, were announced at a banquet at the Kaimana Hotel. These final 42 teams would race twice on Saturday to determine the World Champion Hobie 16 skipper and crew.

Dino and J.D. (that’s Froome and Driscoll) took a third in their first race of the day and put in a 27th place in their last race, which would obviously be counted as their throwaway. Three other Hawaiian teams moved into the top five positions overall, relishing the familiar conditions which other skippers were finding so strenuous. “Whiz Kid” Loufek and “Goat Horns” Canepa stood in the top five as the lone Californians.

The Australian teams continued to place consistently and the day’s milder events brought on some new faces as the leaders in each race, including: the Tahitian team of Gerald Sachet and Heneri Lucas; the Puerto Rican team of Ronnie Ramos and Eugene Balzac, the South African team of Gordon Monsen and Andrew Wilson, and five Californian teams-Russ Eddington and Jim Black, Rich Eddington and Brian Lewis, Wayne Schafer and Mike Holmes, Randy Hatfield and Kim Jacob, and Bob and Jana Seaman.

Between races and after-hours, everyone luxuriated within the plush and hospitable embrace of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The setting was tropically perfect and the food and service were impeccable. Helpful in every way, their staff proved to be such an asset that we are forever spoiled “mahalo” to Norm Riede, Dave Hoffman, Bob Costa, Fran Pearson and their numerous assistants.

The tension and excitement were evident Saturday morning. Racers were absorbed in concentration. Crowds lined all the beaches of Waikiki to watch the Hobie Cats pound through the surf. Each capsize was greeted with collective oohhs and aahhs from the shore, most everyone carried a score sheet and kept track of their favourite sailors, and some of the Hobie sailing lingo was creeping into conversations along the beach among the “fans” that had followed the competition daily.

Arithmetic showed that several of the top skippers were still in contention for the title. The races were the longest so far, and the lead boats changed on every leg of the course. Not until the first boats crossed the finish line of the final race was it evident that Froome and Driscoll had won the event with near perfect sailing, remarkable endurance, and their own style of “hooting and hollering” through the courses.

They edged out Richard Loufek and Jeff Canepa of California by a scant 24 points overall. The top fifteen Hobie 16 teams would include six Hawaiian teams, five Californians, three Australians and a Puerto Rican team. The competition was intense, the conditions unforgiving, and the laurels well earned.

For now, it is “pau”, until next year when the best will again challenge each other and the elements for possession of the pie.

Written by Beth Parker 1976
First Published in Hobie Hotline
Volume 6, Number 1, Jan-Feb 1977

YEARLOCATION
1976Honolulu Hawaii USA
1978San Padre Island Texas USA
1980St Croix US Virgin Islands USA
1982Papeete Tahiti
1984Fort Walton Beach Florida USA
1986Suva Fiji
1988Scheveningen The Netherlands
1991Langebaan South Africa
1993Guadeloupe French West Indies
1995Huatulco Mexico
1996Dubai United Arab Emirates
1997Sotogrande Spain
1998Airlie Beach Australia
2000Guadeloupe French West Indies
2002Noumea New Caledonia
2004Riviera Maya Mexico
2005Nelson Mandela Bay Sth Africa
2007Suva Fiji
2010Waihai China
2014Jervis Bay Australia
2016Dapeng China