Doug Hocken hits the water as part of an Inverloch Windsurfing Club day on Anderson Inlet.

smooth-sailing-for-doug-and-the-club

By James Brosnan

BACK in 2007, a group of six ‘crusty old sailors’ were sitting in the middle of Anderson Inlet when the idea to form a windsurfing club in Inverloch was born.
Fast forward to now and the Inverloch Windsurfing Club is now the biggest of its kind in Australia.
The club has grown not only in numbers but also in profile, with Inverloch now ranked among the very best windsurfing locations around the world.
One of those ‘crusty old sailors’ and now president Doug Hocken was one of four nominees for the Community Coach, Administrator, Referee or Official of the Year at the Victorian Community Sport and Recreation Awards.
Although he didn’t win the prestigious award presented at the MCG recently, Hocken said just being nominated was recognition enough for the club.
“This award nomination is not just for one person. I view this nomination for the club rather than just for me,” Hocken said.
“I’ve spoken to a few people in the club and got a number of well wishes, everyone is stoked about it. It is certainly a great way to lift the profile of the club.”
The nomination, which included a $1000 cheque, comes on the eve of the Inverloch Windsurfing Club’s peak period over the summer months.
But in the seven years since its formation, the club has been running on pure enthusiasm and commitment from all members, something which Hocken is very proud of.
“It’s been a real joint approach to make this club the biggest windsurfing club in Australia,” Hocken said.
“We currently have 200 members. The club has forged ahead despite the sport itself being in decline – we have actually bucked the trend and been able to show very strong growth.
“We operate out of the car park at the Angling Club, we have no physical building that we can call home – albeit we are talking with council to create a storage facility for us.
“It’s great to still have that enthusiasm and people out on the water when we don’t have things like change rooms and hot showers.”
Inverloch has broken with some traditional windsurfing club culture, which may be a secret to its success.
“We have gone away from the traditional format of racing which most clubs have and we have just gone back to the basics of having fun and introducing people to the sport, teaching people new skills and just making it a great social environment so that people can get out and enjoy themselves,” Hocken said.
“Windsurfing can be a lonely sport because you are out there by yourself in the elements. We just make sure before you go out and when you come back, it’s a fun time for everyone.”
Another aspect of the club’s success has been the support it has received from the wider Inverloch community.
“One thing that has stood out for us is that we have had a lot of good support from Inverloch Tourism Association and the local business community and that has helped with a lot of different things,” Hocken said.
“In the past few years the club has done some pretty amazing things. We joined GippSport and got involved in the Beach Day for People with a Disability which has been a fantastic thing to be involved with.
“Some of the accolades we have received have put Inverloch on the map in regard to the world windsurfing scene. We have been voted as one of the top 50 flat water spots in the world from our work with talking the place up.”
Recently, four of Inverloch Windsurfing Club’s more extreme members travelled to South Africa to compete in speed competitions.
Highlighting the talent at the club’s disposal, all four of them beat the previous Australian speed record for windsurfing – setting a new benchmark of a 47-knot average over 500 metres.
“Two of our competitors ended up in the top 10 in the competition so we were rapt with that. It is such a great effort and further boosts our clubs profile,” Hocken said.
“They have been highlights for me since we started, and all this couldn’t have been done without an amazing committee. I have had a lot of support from some very cluey people who have made my job a lot easier.”
The Inverloch Windsurfing Club is hoping that the warmer weather over the coming months may attract some new faces.
People who are complete beginners in the sport right through to the most advanced will be well looked after by Hocken and his dedicated committee.
“We have been able to entice the world’s best international coach down to Inverloch for the second time in February,” Hocken said.
“We have also been able to encourage two female Olympic windsurfers to come down and run clinics – over the years we have certainly achieved a lot in terms of profile which has brought a lot into the local community.”
Anyone wanting more information on the Inverloch Windsurfing Club can visit www.inverlochwindsurf.org.au