FIVE former Hobie world champions will be part of the colourful field for the Hobie 16 National Championships, which will be held off Hobie Beach, starting tomorrow.
Hosted by the Algoa Bay Yacht Club and sponsored by The Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World and Sebago, the event is expected to attract a field of 50 to 60 boats, Algoa Bay Yacht Club member Andrew Ward said.
"We once again have the opportunity to showcase Port Elizabeth as the sailing and watersports capital of our country."
Hobie Beach will be the launching point for the event for the next three years following the successful hosting of the regatta last year.
"This event promises to be very competitive with 50-60 boats expected – we had 40 entries last year – to take part from around the country, making up the fleet.
"There will be no fewer than five former Hobie world champions – Blaine Dodds, Colin Whitehead, Alan Lawrence, Steve Arnold and a former youth world champion in Matthew Whitehead."
Heading up the Eastern Cape field will be Blaine and Roxanne Dodds, who were second last year, and William and Lucinda Edwards, third last year, from Plettenberg Bay.
Both have won the title on numerous occasions, with Blaine having picked up 15 titles and William seven.
Ward, himself, is among the leading Port Elizabeth contenders, sailing with Angela Ward. They were fourth last year, while Robert and Alexa Archibald could also come into contention.
"Last year's event in Cape Town saw the duo of Alan Lawrence and his son Daniel repeat their 2011 win to take the event back-to-back. They are sure to be heading up a strong Cape challenge," Ward said.
Top teams from Johannesburg are Mike and Stephanie Goodyear, and Mark Kopel and Mark Witjenberg .
"There has also been an excellent growth among the youth sailors in the Hobie 16 fleet and heading up the youth challenge will be Matthew Whitehead, Ewald Erasmus, Douglas Edwards and Brent Hayward."
The event will be sailed from Hobie Beach and starts tomorrow, with racing taking place until Sunday.