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2022 A-Class Year Review


This was the year when the gloves finally came off again after the two dreadful COVID years. Big regattas could finally be held and people could travel unrestricted again. Also, we ended the year with two women as National Champions, showing that this boat is truly for everyone!

As ever, the year always starts with a bang down in AUS as the most competitive of all the National Championships gets going. This year it was hosted by the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in sunny old BrisVagas. This time, the wind at this event was a main feature with four days of great full-on Champagne sailing conditions to test all the sailors and their boats. The Classics were again dominated by Andrew Landenberger, with a faultless display by the multiple World Champion. However, the other podium positions were decided on the final day and the final race, which saw Andreas (Baby) Landy just pip Bruce Woodward for that second place. Over on the Open foiling fleet, the reigning Champ, Stevie Brewin, on his AD3, held off the challenge from his training mate Darren Bundock, who had a bit of a ‘mare’ on day 3 as things snapped in the heavy chop. But Stevie had enough space too, despite a DNF on day 4 and a DNC on the final day, to win the event. James Clark took the final podium position to be 3rd.

LandyAndrews Landenberger. 2022 AUS Classic Champion

Stevie  Stevie Brewin. 2022 AUS Open Champion

A month or so later the Nationals action switched across the Tasman Sea and to the beautiful waters of Howick YC in Auckland. In a variety of conditions in which the Classics frequently outstripped the Foilers, the Kiwi Foiling Master Dave Shaw continued to dominate the Open class while Tom block clinched the Classic title.

DaVEDave Shaw, 2022 NZL Open Champion


TomTom Block, 2022 NZL Classic Champion

Things then go quiet for a few weeks, regatta-wise, before the first of the year’s two major international events kick off. The Beacon Group A-Cat World Championships, in Houston, was the first major event to be held within the class since Sept 2019 and Weymouth. Little did we realise what was to happen to us all over the next 2 years. The Houston event was a hastily convened event following the cancellation of the St Petersburg Fl. Bid the previous November. But the venue and dates suddenly became available and a small dedicated team of organisers pulled it off with style and to great success on the spectacularly choppy waters of Galveston Bay.

classic start

The Admiral’s Cup was their warm up event and gave the sailors the chance to get match fit in the conditions. Over the 6 races, Micky Todd. ESP, managed to fend off the old ‘Admiral’ Ben Hall, USA, for the cup win in the Classics Category, and Ken Marshack, USA, came in a solid 3rd. Over on the Open course, local hero Bruce Mahoney, USA, held off the challenge from Stevie Brewin, AUS, to clinch the title with Emmanuel Dode, FRA, in a superbly sailed 3rd place. The event proved a few interesting things about the venue. The fact that the water in the sailing area was only 10 ft deep in places meaning that a capsize and a mast leak could be game ending. Fortunately, this only happened the once. And the shallowness, combined with the prevailing wind having a long fetch, allowed a vicious 2-3ft short chop to build. This proved to be less of an issue for the Classics than the Open sailors. Foils tend to work well in water, less so in fresh air, resulting in several rather hard arrivals and the subsequent pitch-pole if unlucky. It also meant that the Race Officer Billy, could be forced to call the race off in lower winds than ordinarily because the chop meant a rescue rib would struggle to get upwind to an incident in a safe time.

The main event started a few days later. 66 sailors, with 17 from overseas was a pretty fair turnout for the first big international event since the lockdowns, but the quality of the field was certainly in no way diminished. It was good to see many domestic sailors have the opportunity to go up against the class superstars. Quite a few had driven across the continent to compete, clocking up the sort of mileage you can only seem to do in the USA. During the week, they managed to get an 8 race championship sailed for both fleets, after a day was lost due to a massive storm from the gulf arrived midweek. The open fleet happened to be sailing as it arrived, and as lightning started striking the big container cranes of La Porte, it was deemed prudent to send everyone back to shore. The sight of thirty odd A-Cats suddenly hightailing it back to shore, right towards the storm and on a fine reach, many barely under control whilst going flat out, was a spectacular sight.


Running homeIan Storer runs for home before the storm hits

The next day wasn’t wasted though, as our Swiss President, a Frenchman and your British editor went off with Murphy, their kind host, to a local shooting range. It was Texas remember. Emmanuel had never touched a gun in his life before, the last thing Charles had hit was a Marmot by accident back in 1979 whilst in the Army, and Gordon only ever now shot things with a telephoto lens, But all showed that Europeans still had the edge on these Texans, much to poor Murphy’s disgust.

Upon resumption of the racing, in the Classic fleet Landy showed a clean pair of heels as ever and won with straight bullets. Followed by Micky Todd and Baby Landy. There were some good lower fleet tussles going on as Ken Marshack held off challenges from OH Rogers and Ben Hall to finish in 4, 5 and 6th respectively. The Open fleet was somewhat closer at the top. No easy ride for anyone in those conditions. The tussle for the lead resulted in a different leader after each race at one point. Ravi Parent, USA, Kuba Surowiec, POL and Riley Gibbs, USA all led the championship. In the end, it actually came down to the final downwind leg of the last race and a split at the top mark. The championship went to Ravi who managed to put Kuba behind him at the finish. Bundy got the final bullet, much to his great pleasure. Ravi is now alongside Mischa, as later in the year he also gained the F18 World Championship crown too. Some great racing on display in both fleets there and in some challenging conditions. It was a great and highly successful return to big event racing for the class, and the great Texan hospitality was enjoyed by all.


2022 Open Champion Ravi Parent (centre)

Vice champ Kuba Surowiec (L) 3rd Riley Gibbs (R)


2022 Classic Champion Andrew Landenberger (C)

Vice Champ Micky Todd (L) 3rd Andreas Landenberger (R)

Meanwhile, back in the Old Continent, the BEL fleet held the first Nationals of the European year, in May. The friendly yet competitive and largely Classic Belgian national fleet crowned former Champ Michel Warlop their top sailor.


2022 Belgian Champ Michel Warlop (c), Philippe Muyzers (L) and Claude Brasseur.(R)



Flaming June arrived, and with it the now traditional Arco Spring Cup. This is usually the great first large event of the year and sees many sailors from all over converge on the North of Lake Garda. Ten nations represented this year, with the Open fleet being by far the largest, as expected at this foiling Nirvana. Tymuk Bendyk POL, who holds regular foiling clinics there, won convincingly, as did Alberto Farnessi in the Classic fleet. But as with many venues, it’s not always about where you finished, just being there and doing it can be enough in itself.


Tymuk Bendyk, Garda Spring Cup Winner


The Spring Cup starts.

SUI Nats also took place this month. The Swiss are very fortunate to have a choice of spectacular lake venues to choose from within 300km distance. This year at Maccagno on Lake Maggiori, where Schuerer team rider Robin Maeder became the SUI Champion.


2022 Swiss Champ, Robin Maeder


Meanwhile, in the official World's second happiest country, the DEN Nationals were held at Kerteminde, on The Great Belt sea.  Here, Thomas Paasch became Champion again, with 10 bullets over his clubmate Lars Schroder and Jorg Horn GER in third place.

The GBR Nationals were also due at the end of the month at the little Thames Estuary resort of Clacton . However, following weeks of totally perfect sailing conditions, the weekend resulted in conditions too fruity for the race officer’s safety crews to cope with and the event was sadly cancelled after the boats had been on the water bouncing about for an hour, so back to the bar as usual. The event was eventually held on the much depleted waters of Grafham Water SC in October, where Hugh Macgregor retained his Classic title as did Julian Bosch as the sole foiling boat.


Exciting North Sea conditions at the 1st attempted run of the GBR Nationals


The 2nd attempt - Open Champ Julian Bosch (L), Classic Hugh MacGregor (2L)

By July, many sailors were in full flow. At Sopot, the POL Nationals took place with their usual high competitiveness. This time Kuba took the Open title from his favourite rival, Tymuk, in some close racing.


Polish aces - Jacek Noetzel 3rd, Kuba Suroweic Champion, Tymuk Bendyk 2nd.

It was also the month of the ITA Nationals at Lake Bracciano, North of Rome, and home, incidentally, of the superb Italian aviation museum, if that floats your boat!. On the lake, in their usual beautiful Italian weather, the Classic fleet winner was Alessandro Rosi ahead of Marco Gaeti and Manuel Vaccari. Meanwhile, over on the Open course, in form ITA sailor, Lamberto Cesari, was just beaten by Giuseppe Colombo who retained his championship crown with a virtuoso performance. Paulo Penco completed the Open podium in 3rd.

ita 1The victorious ITA Classic Champion - Alessandro Rosi (L)

ita2The Heroic Open ITA Champion - Lamberto Cesari (L)

August arrives and with it the NED Nationals. Many saw this as a good training event for the upcoming Europeans the following month, and Hellecat didn’t disappoint. In great conditions, Misha Heemskerk retained his Open title, although he didn’t have an easy ride and was pushed hard by fellow DNA team sailor Thijs Visser. In the Classic fleet, Caroline Van Beelen dominated the fleet on her Nikita, especially in the lighter races, to become NED Classic Champ.

ned1NED Classic Champion  - Caroline Van Beelen

ned2NED Open Champion - Mischa Heemskerk

September saw the second of the major 2022 A-Cat regattas with the European Championships, which takes place then the Worlds is outside Europe. Arco Del Garda club was the venue and as usual didn’t disappoint either with it’s friendly atmosphere and helpful staff.

Due to club restrictions, it was a closed event, limited to 100 boats. With 30 Classics and 66 Open, the place was pretty maxed out. The two categories’ races were held at separate times, meaning that one fleet usually got more wind that the other. The starts were switched to allow a fair allocation of conditions to each fleet. In the end, Classics sailed 9 and the Open sailed 10 races. These were all sailed further down the lake, essentially in that venturi zone as the lake narrows near the big vertical cliff overlooked by Punta Larcini. The course needed to be set there as to venture further South would risk straying into two different Italian Provinces, which apparently is a bad thing. The other exciting aspect was that just to windward of the top mark was their kiteboarding area. This on occasions resulted in wayward kites and/or riders drifting down onto the top mark area and needing dragging away by our safety boats as the kite board rescue boats seemed blithely unaware of any problems caused.


Kites & Cats, always the perfect combination 

However, the clubs GPS marks made things much easier for course setting in that area too. The only complaint really is that the geography of the place tends to result in somewhat formulaic race tactics. The wind is usually from the Sou’Sou’ West and probably only varies maybe 10 degrees. The result is that every race starts with the whole fleet tacking onto Port pretty much as soon as space becomes available. To prevent the huge traffic jam formed at the Committee boat end. This happened at the first Open fleet start, so the PRO tended to add quite a noticeable port bias to the line in an attempt to push them down the line somewhat. Things were also complicated by the fact that all the IQ foil training teams and local foil board sailors decided to home in on the start area for some reason. This resulted in a Mario-Cart game type situation developing, to the huge amusement of the A-Cat fleets.

All the starts were judged to be clean, recalls, individual or otherwise, never seen to feature in these Garda championships. The port bias line, at least in the earlier races of the Open fleet seemed to go unnoticed at first, with the exception of Stevie Brewin and Tymuk Bendyk. This pair realized that the port flyer was a game winner, at least until the rest slowly cottoned on to it. On the first start, the pair shot off across the fleet, and cleared them all by a good 50m+. That lead stretched out even more as they were the first into the powerzone near the cliff and they remained in the lead for the rest of the race. This essentially became the Open fleet’s tactics for the regatta.


Tymuk Bendyk POL 51 and Stevie Brewin AUS 4 take on the fleet in their race winning port flyer


The Classics opted to go for a lift on the left side before tacking off

As the wind’s ratcheted up during the week, it became rather exciting for many in the Open fleet. Recorded speeds in excess of 30kts coming uphill after their lay-line tack was not uncommon. This would have meant an airspeed of nearly 50kts across the sail at times. This became a struggle for even the top sailors. Every sailor in the top ten would have put their bow into a wave and gone in at least once. Coming into the top mark only exacerbated this, as the boats got rather loose and occasionally let go. 


Coming in hot and hard, and trying to keep foiling on the spreader leg could offer some crowd pleasing results


The Classics seemed to opt for a different approach. They lap up this fruity stuff with vigor. They tended to continue along on the starboard tack for much longer, particularly in the windier races. This had the advantages of a possible lift near the left shoreline, it moved their final upwind layline tack away from the boardsailor zone and also moved them further upwind in prep for their top mark rounding, allowing for more accurate judging of their tacking points. At the top mark, most gybed and went back down the same route as they came up. This was common for both fleets, although as the wind shifted west in the later week races, it was found that the left side of the course offered better conditions and a shorter route.

At the finish, that wily old former World Champ, Scott Anderson AUS was the regatta Classic winner and kept ahead of a good challenge from Gustavo Dorreste ESP who became European Classic Champ and Moritz Wies GER came third. Mortiz was hands down winner in the lighter stuff earlier in the week, finishing minutes ahead on occasions just leaving the rest to chase behind. However, his little fox-like physique caused him to struggle when the big winds arrived, and the ‘Larger Gentlemen’ in the fleet took their advantage.

On the Open fleet, it was Stevie getting 5 bullets that secured his regatta win. Mischa came second after a few slightly lower finishes moved him off the top spot, however he became European Open Champ, just ahead of Kuba, who lost on countback. It was a classic Garda Championships and enjoyed greatly by all who got to attend.

gustavoThe European Classic Champion, Gustavo Doreste

mischThe European Open Champion, Mischa Heemskerk

Meanwhile later in the month, over the pond in the New World again, the North Americans were held at the Canadian Burlington Beach Cat Club, just up the way from Niagara Falls, on Lake Ontario. Over the course of a week, the fleets had everything, from 8kt lowrider conditions right up to mast breaking Lake Ontario sudden squalls. In the end, Bruce Mahoney overcame his dismasting to win another NA title, with Bailey White 2nd and another of our hotshot A-Cat girls, Cam Farrah coming 3rd. On the Classics, all the ‘Gentlemen of a Certain Age’ cleaned up the trophies. Bob Webbon retained his title, after Woody Cope had a DNC in the last race, and Bobby Orr got the 3rd. All seemed to have a fun time as usual in these fleets.

USA winThe North American Nats winners - Bob Webbon Classic (top R), Bruce Mahoney Open (top 2nd R)

fruityThe racing could get rather fruity at times as the Lake Ontario storms arrive at short notice.

No sooner had everyone got back to German from the Euros, unloaded the boats, mown the lawn, than they were preparing for the GER Nationals at Wismar. A good turnout of some 21 boats sailed this rather full on windy event. The Viking invasion took it’s toll amongst the home fleet, as they arrived mob handed to steal away the spoils. But Alex Meister fought them off to win the GER Open crown. Thomas Paasche DEN and Christian Nygaard DEN snapped up the other podium slots. In the Classic fleet, the wind resulted in them mixing it with the foilers at the top end of their range, our second woman champion was crowned as Astrid Janssen, BEL, beat the GER lads Thomas Becker and Jorg Horn.


German Open National Champ, Alex Meister



The German Classic winner Astrid Janssen

The finale of the A-Cat year is traditionally the French Nationals, at their Armistice Regatta in Maubouisson. They usually get an influx from over the border, this year was no different, as Micky Todd ESP cleaned up in the Classics, with Lars Bunkenberg GER 2nd, just beating Xavier Heurtemboust FRA into 3rd, making Xavier the French National Classic Champion. In the Open fleet, Emmanuel Dode also dominated, to become the Open Champion.


The Classic French Champion podium, 1 Micky Todd ESP, 2 Lars Bunkenberg GER and 3 National Champ Xavier Heurtemboust


The FRA Open champion Emmanuel Dode, with 2 Patrick Demesmaeker BEL and 3 Matthias Dietz.

Then finally, to top off a great A-Cat year, our multiple Class World Champ, all round legend and nice guy, Glenn Ashby, only goes and smashes the wind driven Land Speed Record with the ETNZ team at Lake Garnier, AUS, with a speed of 120 knots in only 22 knots of wind! We must now be unique as the only class who can claim 2 reigning World Speed Record holders sailing within their ranks! Messers Larsen and Ashby, stand up, we salute you!





Next year we look forward to more great racing. The big event, of course, is the Worlds in September at Toulon, so we look forward to seeing many of our friends there. But in the meantime, have a great 2023 and who knows, we may even get more women on those championship podia!


Doreen Hilliard  

Howick SC

Emilio Santinelli

Helena Darvelid - Sailrocket