13’Skiff National Champions 2023 – EBIX
They bickered constantly when they first sailed together but brother and sister combination Jemma and James Hopkins are now a united front with a national title under their belts after streeting the opposition at the Australian 13ft Championships at Manly.
The EBIX team already had the crown in its keeping regardless of Saturday’s final heat result but the siblings went out for a celebratory lap of honour and signed off with a sixth in a race won by Plonk Café (Avril Richardson) from Middle Harbour. The Hopkins teenagers picked up four wins, three seconds, a third and a sixth in a variety of conditions to record one of the most emphatic wins in recent 13s history.
“It’s pretty cool and exciting to win in my first season on the 13s, especially doing it here at Manly in the club’s 100th year,” skipper Jemma said. “We had some pretty good competition from Bartley Construction and the Fluid boys, Plonk Cafe and Botany Scaffold and our aim was just to stay consistent. “We’ve had a really good week and enjoyed every minute. “We need to thank everyone at EBIX for their support, Sail Media for the great exposure, the Manly club and our friends and family.”
With Jemma unavailable, James partnered with Orlando Sadlik to win the NSW 13ft Skiff Championships and now has a national title to add to his collection. The recently turned 18-year-old, who refused to shave during the week as part of his regatta superstition, said: “It was different winds and shifting and very much like the States where you had to adapt. “It is really exciting and makes it a really diverse regatta where you really get challenged. “It hasn’t really set in that we’ve won it.”
Jemma, 16, admitted the chemistry with her older brother hadn’t always been there.”We sailed MJs when I was five or six and that didn’t really work out but it’s all good now,” she said with a smile. “We work really well together.” James added: “I think we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses really well and are able to play to those. “If things get a bit like complicated out in the water and we have a bit of a disagreement, we know we can patch it up in a few minutes, which is awesome.”
James is open to offers for next season, eyeing a possible graduation to the 16s ranks while Jemma will have another year or two in the 13s before looking to take the step up. Jemma also took out the national female 13s title, while Hornsby Kuringai’s Cheeky (Zackary Wyatt) was winner on handicap.
By Adam Lucius
Photo SailMedia, Manly Skiffs