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2023 Review of the A-Cat Year.

For many of us, 2023 was a somewhat frustrating year. A combination of global warming changing weather patterns, with cost of living and fuel increases, saw a few European events cancelled or having lower than expected turnouts. The curse of the internet, whereby some sailors tend now to only make the call to attend an event less than a week before, after deciding if it’s ‘their weather’ is now also a big factor, and this knock-on effect for clubs mean that fewer of them are prepared to take a punt to put in the effort and mobilise their volunteers into organising an event. That said, there was still much great sailing to be had.



The year traditionally kicks off with the AUS Nationals. This year it was a closely fought affair in the Classic Fleet at Gippsland Lakes YC, in Paynesville, VIC. The first couple of day’s races saw Champagne sailing weather, but patches of weed plagued some with the Open fleet particularly badly affected, having to stop to clear their foils. The midweek day was blown off, a usual pattern nowadays. The resumption of sailing the following day saw shifty light winds and really mixed up the fleet lower down the order. By the final day, in the Classic fleet, there was real tussle for the lead, with the top three separated by a single point each. Richie Howells, overcame the reigning incumbent Andrew Landenberger to become the AUS Classic Champ and David McKenzie completed the podium. Over in the Open fleet, an on-form Adam Beatie consolidated his string of bullets to become AUS Open Champ, from Darren Bundock and David Brewer.



The USA/CAN fleet are the only fleet lucky enough to have a regular travelling series that runs year long. In the early part of the year, they all migrate southwards, like Geese, Swallows or Ospreys, settling in Florida and hold the HH/NOOD Regatta at St. Petes. This year, OH Rogers held off Christopher Brown for the Classic podium, and Larry Woods beat Cam Farrah for the Open.


Focus moves to the Land of the Long White Cloud with the NZL Nationals. Taking over the crown from Dave Shaw, Hamish Hall-Smith became NZL Open champ, while John Kennett became Classic Champ, at Turangi Lake on South Island. 


Meanwhile across the Pacific, the North American Nats happened at Davis Islands YC, Tampa. Following their traditional warm-up event, the Admiral’s Cup this year was an interesting event as the weather was somewhat on the fruity side with many capsizes. In the Nationals, the Open fleet yet again had to chase their reigning Champ, Bruce Mahoney around the course, with Larry Woods and Mike Christiansen completing their podium. The Classic fleet, as ever was a little closer, with Christopher Brown victorious over Chris Brown and Woody Cope in bronze.



This is usually the month many Euro sailors wake up from their hibernation. No nationals yet, but the Garda Easter Regatta was popular. In rather overcast unGardalike conditions, Robin Maeder took the podium win, with Vlad Pstanik and Rainer Bohrer in the Open fleet and Mortiz Wiess took the Classic trophy.



Now the European year should get going. But with the cancellation of the famous Garda Euro Spring Regatta, due to insufficient sailor interest, despite it having been campaigned for its reinstatement by the great efforts of Lamberto Cesare. See my opening remarks. We can’t see this on the 2024 calendar now unfortunately.

The GER Nationals were at the famous German resort of Fraglia Vela Malcesne, on Garda. In better Garda weather, some 60 boats raced. The finish was to be a foretaste of a larger event later this year. After the last day was blown off, it was Kuba Surowiec finally overhauling Mischa Heemskerk to win the regatta. Emmanuel Dode sailed into a well placed third. So it was Bob Baier who’d finished 4th and gained yet another GER Open crown. On the Classics, Scott Anderson led from Matthias Dietz and Lars Bunkenberg to get the trophy, and Matthias became GER Classic Champ.


The Viking Hoard also held their Nationals during the DEN Sail Extreme event at Kerteminde, sailing on The Great Belt. In rather light winds, German Jorg Horn won the regatta, Thomas Paasch came second and Tom Bjolland in third, so Thomas was again DEN Champion. Can’t have been easy to sail on A-Cat with all those shields along the sides though!


The GBR Nationals took place at the English seaside resort of Clacton, on the Thames Estuary. Brisk winds and a running sea made hard work for the British lads. So much so, that the second day was cancelled as the rescue boats could not launch. In the end, it was A-Cat rookie Mark Rushton who gained his Classic crown, and Julian Bosch gained his first Open crown in a small fleet, again affected by sailors dropping out during the event run-up. 


The SUI Association fared better attendancewize. 50 boats turned up at Lake Maccagno in yet another weather compromised event. The first day was cancelled as the wind didn’t arrive, so they started early on the second. It arrived, but the light thermal breeze made for frustrating sailing, especially amongst the Open fleet. The next day, again another early start, but with a better wind pressure, although blowing from different ends of the lake throughout the day. Eventually, after some hard-fought racing, the Classic podium was Moritz Wiess, Matthias Dietz and George Rutter – all ‘die leichwindspetzialisten’. Bruna Biedermann became SUI National Classic Champ. On the Open course, Lamberto Cesare won the regatta, with Robin Maeder and Emmanuel Dode, and hence Robin retained his SUI crown.


It was also the month of the BEL Nationals. This largely Classic fleet sailed this year at the Sports Nautiques De L’Eau D’Heure in West central Belgium. A light wind venue, this largely ‘fine beer drinking club with boats’ raced closely and Claude Brasseur beat Francois Labotte and Michael LeGoulias to become the BEL National Champion.


A few smaller events, and again more weather-related cancellations. The GBR Grafham Water Cat Open was cancelled after massive wind forecasts, but Hellecat in NED hosted an open attended by several international representatives and enjoyed some rather full-on fun sailing for the sailable first day from a two day event.


The Nationals circus reaches ITA, and the Tuscan coast, just around the corner from Punta Ala. Here in the sweltering heat, they experienced one very light wind day, and one epic day. Many will remember it well. Bob Baier won the open regatta, with Gianni Fantasia second, and Lamberto in third, making Gianni the 2023 ITA Open Champion. On the Classic course, Marco Radman held off a challenge from Manual Vaccari Perez and Andrea Ruffini to be crowned the Classic Champion.


At the other side of Europe, the bouncy waters of the Baltic were the racecourse for the POL Nationals at the lovely venue of Sopot and their UKS Navigo club. In some very close racing, Kuba Surowiec clinched the Open crown and Marek Zubrowski won the Classic trophy.

Then everyone started to look at routes to Toulon.


The month started with the news that a titan in the A-Class world had passed. Lallo Petricci, the founder of Bimare and major driving force behind the ITA Association in the early years dies at the age of 82. There can be very few A-Cat sailors who do not owe a debt of gratitude to him, and he is sadly missed.


The Yacht Club Du Toulon was the venue for the 2023 A-Cat Worlds. Sailing on the beautiful azure, if slightly cool, waters of the Med. A week of racing in all conditions imaginable under the superb stewardship of their Olympic Race Officer Corinne Aubert. Each day the fleets set off to differing areas of the Rad Du Toulon, dodging French warships as they went. The start of the event coincided with the opening match of the Rugby World Cup in France, and this Rugby mad town was buzzing.

The venue was also liberally scattered with eateries, many along the corniche from the club, and small groups of sailors could be found in them when not in racing mode.

The latter days of the championship became tense. Each fleet leader knew a mistake would cost them the trophy and this came right down to the last epic race day. The seas were building, the wind increasing. The Classics were first on, and those who decided that discretion was the better part of valour lined up along the sea wall to watch the games. The last two races, Scotty Anderson led Gustavo Doreste only on countback, both on 12 points. In the end, the old dog Scotty did it, for the second time and possibly the longest time between World Titles in history, some 37 years. None begrudged him it, and all were happy it ended as such.

All came back in, then Corinne summoned out the Open fleet for one last showdown, rather to surprise of many, as the wind had gone up another notch to North of 20kts. This was going to be good and survival mode was engaged. Prior to the start, the two championship contenders, Mischa and Kuba both practice their capsize righting techniques in testing the conditions at the top mark. They exchanged glances that said may the best man win. Lining up, they all got off into the chop. Immediately, Bundy got right into the zone and just seemed planted and comfortable in the 3ft waves. He’d realised that unless something spectacular happened to the other two, there was little he could do to affect anything other than to maximise his chances should it happen. As a result, he just looked really relaxed. In contrast, Mischa was his usual muscular self, forcing and trying to tame the boat like a mustang. Kuba on the other hand had found that the faster he managed to go in those conditions, the more stable his platform became. Both capsized, but Mischa did his at the bottom mark whilst trying to catch Kuba and was overtaken by Adam Beatie.

At the line, it was Bundy, followed by Ravi Parent, who put up a gallant fight, but he was too many points adrift after having some horrendous results earlier in the week. Then came Kuba, and seeing Mischa had two other boats, Stevie Brewin and Adam in his way, won his first World Open Championship title.

Another class event well ran by the YCT.

scott  kuba

The last event of the month was the NED Nats at Hellecat a couple of weeks later. Mischa gained another National title in the Open, and Sjoerd Hoestra became the Classic Champion.


Unfortunately, yet another casualty of the weather was the FRA Nationals at La Boule. Cancelled sadly. And here endeth the year. A few associations had opens, and then the AUS sailors emerge from their caves once again.

We now look forward to Sept 2024 and a return to the waters of Punta Ala after some nine years absence.


We wish you all a great 2024 sailing year and hope fewer events get canned this time.