HUSKISSON, New South Wales (January 21, 2020) – From January 29 to Feb 2 the Shoalhaven will host the Hobie Kayak Fishing Series Australian Championship on St Georges Basin. Palm Beach, in Sanctuary Point, will be the location for the tournament event site, from where anglers will depart and return to each day of the championship.

The site will also be the location for a live weigh-in of fish each afternoon. After each angler’s “bag” (generally three fish) is weighed, they will release their catch back into the Basin to swim away, anglers are not permitted to keep any of the fish brought back to the weigh-in. Penalties are also applied if a fish is unable to swim away, this places an onus on anglers to care for their fish while in their Livewell.

The championship, which was originally scheduled to be held at Bemm River in Victoria, was moved to the Shoalhaven due to the devastation caused by the recent fires in the East Gippsland region.

This year is the eleventh occasion that the championship has been contested and the 49 anglers who have qualified, did so by competing in rounds that were part of a series of twelve tournaments held throughout Australia in 2019. St Georges Basin was one of those rounds and regularly feature on the Hobie tournament calendar.

Anglers will travel to the Shoalhaven from various regions of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, the ACT, South Australia and Western Australia, but will not have to bring their own kayaks. The event site will be set up with fifty brand new, fully rigged kayaks, that are supplied and set up by the Hobie Asia Pacific factory which is located at Huskisson.

Except for a variety of colours, each kayak will all be exactly, the same, providing a level playing field for competitors. Among other accessories on board the Hobie Pro Angler 14 kayak which are powered by Hobie MirageDrive 180 (forward and reverse) propulsion systems, are a Hobie Livewell V2, a Lowrance Hook Reveal 7 Tripleshot sounder and a remote-controlled Power-Pole Micro Anchor system.

The anglers are an elite group, sixteen of whom have represented Australia at World Championships, the last of which was held on the Gold Coast in Queensland in 2019. That event was won by Australian Andrew Death from Sydney, who missed qualification for the Australia Championship this year, but second placed Simon Morley from Bulli and third placed Jack Gammie from Sydney will be appearing at the Basin.

Morley was the 2015 and 2019 Australian Kayak Angler of the Year and beside his second in the world in 2019 he has also represented Australia at world championships in the Netherlands and Sweden. Gammie, only in his early twenties, has represented Australia at two world championships. He followed up a 6th place in Sweden in 2018 with a third in Australia last year, after leading the world championship each day of the championship up until the final weigh-in.

2013 world champion Richard Somerton from Victoria will be a tough man to beat. As well as his win in 2013, Somerton came second in the world in Louisiana, USA in 2017 and has also represented Australia at Worlds in China, Netherlands, Sweden and Texas, USA. Somerton was also the 2016 and 2018 Australian Champion and alongside Steve Lessard from the USA is considered as one of the top two kayak anglers in the world.

There are numerous other competitors with impressive fishing pedigrees, but two locals stand-out. Brett Crowe from Vincentia, and Kevin Varty from Nowra, have also represented Australia at world championships. Both competed on Vinkeveen Plassen in the Netherlands in 2014 after qualifying on St Georges Basin. Varty who was sitting in seventeenth position going into the final day of the Worlds chasing pike, perch and zander, caught a huge pike that rocketed him up the leaderboard and the Nowra angler came home with a bronze medal finish, the highest of any Australian that year. Varty went on to represent his country on one other occasion, this time in Louisiana in the USA in 2016 chasing Redfish, Speckled Trout and Flounder.

At the Australian Championship on St Georges Basin anglers will solely target Bream which after catching will kept in their Livewell. Only Bream that are one centimetre over the state minimum of 25cm are permitted to be kept and generally only three fish are permitted to be in an angler’s well at any one time. If an angler catches a fish, that is larger than one already in their “well”, they will release the smaller fish and upgrade it with the lager one.

It is a great sight to see the start of the event each morning as anglers prepare their kayaks and tackle and then gather and blast off from the starting line. When anglers return with their catch in the afternoon, they line up, then in turn head up on stage with their fish to be weighed before releasing them in a healthy state to swim away free.
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If you would like any further information about this topic please call Chris Purnell on 0499 646 243 or c.purnell@hobiecat.com.au

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