Hansa 2.3 birthday regatta a huge success

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Photo by Dave Thompson

The long awaited 23rd birthday party and regatta for the Hansa 2.3 has been held on the weekend of Oct 3rd & 4th and has been hailed a great success.

P1050990Sailors from across NSW, ACT, SA & Victoria gathered in Nowra to celebrate the 23rd birthday of this iconic boat. The event attracted 29 boats with juniors, seniors, males & females and saw experienced sailors lining up against complete novices. The two day event was promoted as a fun and friendly event, with no protests allowed to ensure that all who took part enjoyed their time on the water.

P1050936Following recent flooding, the Nowra Community Sailing Club was not safe for use, so organisers had to bring in everything for the regatta – including an accessible pontoon that was secured to the bank to allow sailors to enter their boats. The weather co-operated, and the first day saw temperatures in the low 30’s, where 3 races were scheduled for the morning session. The first race saw ACT sailor Michael Leydon lead home Nowra local Cameron Phelps, from Port Stephens sailor Jason Elwes. The second race was also won by an ACT sailor, with Mark Durnan taking the win from Leydon and Phelps. As the weather warmed, some of the sailor took out their bailers and produced water pistols to keep themselves – and their competitors – cool.

P1060015The third race of the day was a ladies only race, with 10 competitors lining up for the race. SKUD18 sailor Ame Barnbrook – who started her sailing career in a 2.3 – took the honours. ACT sailor Kim Ballantyne, who is also a SKUD18 sailor and was sailing the 2.3 for the first time, was in second place, with experienced Belmont sailor Wendy Evans in third place.

Sailability Shoalhaven and their volunteers ran a much appreciated BBQ for sailors and their supporters. Whilst the competitors were enjoying their lunch, the wind IMG_3227died away to almost nothing and, with the change of tide, it was looking unlikely that the day’s remaining races would be completed. A third open race was finally completed later in the afternoon, which again saw Michael Leydon take the win, from Mark Durnan and Toronto sailor John Garbutt in third. With the wind dropping again and the heat still in the day, some of the other sailors started to take their water fights more seriously than their sailing, causing great entertainment for both sailors and the spectators on shore.

Once their boats and equipment were securely packed away for the evening, the competitors and their supporters adorned for the ‘birthday party’ dinner at the Bomaderry Bowls Club.

Over 80 diners assembled at the party, with placemats at each place setting showing a different photo from around the world showing sailors and events that have formed part of the 2.3’s history to date.

P1060021MC and host for the evening was the extremely funny Kiki Bittovabitsch, who introduced the boat’s designer, Chris Mitchell. Chris gave the assembled guests some history of the boat and its design and its cornerstone place in the range of Universal Designed Hansa boats and the development of Inclusive Sailing around the world.  Chris then introduced a musical piece which started as a piece of poetry by Belmont Sailor Wendy Evans that was later set to music by her friends. The emotive song talked of the freedom that P1060025Wendy feels when she is taken from her wheelchair and allowed to take the controls of a boat and sail on her own.

Following an excellent meal, Kiki interviewed Ame Barnbrook on her career in sailing and what the 2.3 has meant to her. Kiki then entertained the guests with a fantastic comedy routine and floor show – ably assisted by Craig Milburn, from Shoalhaven City Council and Rob Barnbrook, Ame’s brother – which had the audience in P1060092stitches.  Another video from the 1990’s TV show ‘Beyond 2000’ was then played to the audience, showing Greg Mott sailing the 2.3. Chris and Jackie then cut 2 birthday cakes for dessert and were then presented with a framed ‘birthday card’ consisting of some early photos of the 2.3, which was signed by the assembled guests.

The second day of racing was overcast, but still warm and the breeze was quite strong as competitors rigged their boats and took to the P1060151water. As luck would have it, the breeze dropped away, but Race Officer Sam Lay was able to get 3 races away. As the breeze dropped, the water pistol fights increased, with the tide and lack of wind bringing sailors close enough to target their competitors from point blank range. The placegetters from day 1 shared the honours on the second day, with Mark Durnan, John Garbutt and Michael Leydon all winning races.

P1060181The final race of the competition was an Open race, but results placed competitors into Open, Senior and Youth divisions. This race was also the Top Gun race, which saw competitors race from the start line straight to the finish, ignoring the top mark. Competitors then returned ashore to load their boats for home prior to the Presentations.

Shoalhaven Mayor Jo Gash was on hand to present the prizes in the following divisions.

Open                     Michael Leydon – 1st, Mark Durnan – 2nd and John Garbutt – 3rd

Doubles                John & Kelly Price – 1st, Len Snowden & Jacob Waick – 2nd and Griffen & Claudia Jensen – 3rd

Ladies                   Ame Barnbrook – 1st, Kim Ballantyne – 2nd and Wendy Evans – 3rd

Servo                     Ame Barnbrook

Top Gun               Jack Hunt

Senior                   Bob Schahinger

Youth                    Cameron Phelps

We are most grateful to the sailors and their families and friends who travelled to support this event, but also our Sponsors and Supporters without whom this event would not have been possible.


Thanks to Sam Lay, John and Margy Sanderson and Bob and Deirdre Schahinger for their Race management and on water support. To Sailability Shoalhaven and their volunteers who helped rig and launch boats, to the ladies and gents who cooked the BBQ, to Kiki Bittovabitsch who entertained our guests so brilliantly at the Birthday Party and the Shoalhaven Council for their loan of tents and the water station, along with Mayor Jo Gash for presiding over the presentations. With the Nowra Community Sailing Club not able to be used, Chris, Jackie, Donna and Sam from Hansa Sailing have worked tirelessly to create a fantastic venue from a stretch of riverbank and carpark space beside it. All who attended this event had a wonderful time and the event was a true celebration of the 2.3 and the joy it has brought to sailors around the world.

The 2016 NSW Hansa Class State Championships will be held at the same venue in Nowra on February 20th and 21st. Following the great time and large fleets that came together to celebrate the 23rd birthday of the Hansa 2.3, it is hoped that a large fleet of 2.3’s will take to the water again.

Photos from the event can be seen on our Facebook page and also a news report by WIN Television.

Results are available here.

latrobe valley


But the action wasn’t just on the water at Nowra, with the sailors from Latrobe Valley Yacht Club getting out their 2.3’s and having a regatta and party of their own.


A sad post-script to the 2.3 birthday regatta. Terminally ill, Jacob Wieck, wanted to sail in a regatta and sailed in the 2.3 doubles with Len Snowden, claiming gold. Sadly, Jacob passed away on Wednesday 7th October. Our condolences to Jacob’s family and friends.

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