Neil Moxam and Grant Rogers on the 5.8 Durepox in Saturday’s practice race.
Neil Moxam and Grant Rogers on the 5.8 Durepox in Saturday’s practice race. Valerie Horton

Cats all at sea for title hunt

JOE CASSELL went whale watching when he first came to Hervey Bay six years ago.

He’ll be out on a boat on the water again over the next five days but this time it will be sailing rivals in his sights and not whales.

The 43-year-old, who now calls Hervey Bay home, will be on one of the 60 boats contesting the 31st Australian Nacra (catamarans) Championships.

The first in a series of 12 races in the week-long event were held in the waters off Torquay Beach yesterday.

Crews will contest titles in five different divisions, F18s, Nacra 5.8s, Nacra 5.0s, Nacra 16sq and Nacra 4.5s.

The Hervey Bay Sailing Club is hosting the titles for the first time since 2000 and three local crews will take to the water in them.

Cassell on Hold Fast will be one of them.

The others will be the husband and wife duo of Paul and Claire Neeskens.

Paul will be on Duck, Duck Goose while his wife Claire will be hoping to steer Ruby to victory.

The Neeskens have already sailed in the nationals but Cassell will be making his debut at this level.

He said he was looking forward to the challenge.

“You could say that I’m feeling both nervous and excited at the same time,” Cassell said before heading out yesterday afternoon.

“There are so many quality crews here – I cannot wait to get started.”

But does Cassell, who was forced to miss Saturday’s practice race due to a problem with his rudder, think he is in with a shout of becoming a national champion?

“Well, that would be great,” he said.

“However, my main mission is to gain as much experience as I can from sailing against these other crews.

“I’ve only been racing for two years so this is the biggest regatta of my career to-date.

“I’m just happy to be a part of it and watch how the elite go about their business.

“I might just copy everything they do,” he laughed.



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