Peter Darling is a long time skipper of Paper Tiger Catamarans and an Arno Bay local.
For more than 20 years, Peter has participated in the National Championships for this fast cat class and has made long journeys to far-flung places to compete.
He has towed his boat to the north coast of New South Wales, Hobart and all points in between, hoping for a windy regatta to get that big frame working for him.
This year it was his turn to stay home and for the rest of the Aussie fleet to make the journey to his backyard.
And travel in good numbers they did, with 26 skippers, families, caravans and wallets lining up for the start off the beach at Arno Bay.
An estimated $400,000 value in boats made an impressive sight jostling for the best jump.
This year’s event saw all the best skippers from across the country come to Arno Bay to do battle to become the victorious Aussie Champion; and to be one of 10 to qualify to represent their country at the International Titles in New Zealand this year.
With consistent wind conditions from the South and East during the week, the racing was held over six days and the competition was fierce.
New developments in sail technology have seen the speed of the fleet increase markedly in recent times and skippers have been toiling to tune their boats for every ounce of speed.
With so much at stake, the Arno Bay Yacht Club was under pressure to make sure the racing was fair and courses correct.
The strength of the West Coast community shone through with a great team of supporters gathering together to man the committee boats and supervise the racing.
Jarryn Preiss, a former club champion and local with a ready smile and quick mind, accepted the responsibility of being officer of the day and setting courses – no small task.
Jarryn’s seamanship came to the fore, setting courses accurately with a close eye on competitive angles and time restrictions.
A huge vote of thanks goes out to the Arno Bay Yacht Club and to all the locals who pitched in to host the regatta.
In the end, Greg Williams from Wagga (NSW) was named the new Australian Champion with an indomitable six wins.
In second position was the normally saturnine Luke Stout from Melbourne, who was overcome with emotion when accepting his award – evidence of the effort competitors go to.
In third positions and coming fast was previous National Champion and laconic Melbournite ‘Flyin’ Bryan Anderson.
Big Pete Darling finished mid-fleet and with a wry grin suggested he needed a few more races at better than 25 knots wind speed to help with his campaign.
His hospitality was a clear winner with the visitors.
Trish Darling’s efforts throughout the week cooking and running the presentation dinner were widely appreciated by more than 70 people in attendance.
Thanks to the Arno Bay Yacht Club and all who sail in her for a great event.
We look forward to seeing more people racing from this great club in the years ahead and to Pete having more company as he makes the big journey to future championships.