Field of opportunities in Classic races at Hammo

Day three of Hamilton Island Race Week 2023 saw a challenging day for the Nautilus Marine Insurance Classic Races. The hard-working Race Committee scheduled shorter courses given the lighter breeze forecast. The variable conditions that eventuated across the racetracks made it vital to seize any tactical opportunities on offer.

“Even days with less breeze provide a field of opportunities when you have a smart crew keen to look out of the boat,” said Olympic supercoach Victor Kovalenko, strategist on Marcus Blackmore’s RP52cr Ammonite, sailing in Hamilton Island Blue division.

All fleets started in front of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club from Dent Passage, giving spectators a colourful display when spinnakers were hoisted as the boats hit the start line. Margins were tight as the divisions raced, the gains from tides and wind shifts and shadows producing almost instant advantage for some crews, while others could do nothing as their lead evaporated.

One of the standouts of the day was Darryn Purdy’s Marten 49 Indigo II, its new crew taking a fourth place in Hamilton Island Pink division, bettering their previous day’s results. Sailing master Stacey Jackson said pre-race this was their Race Week goal.

“It’s a relatively new team; they have owned the boat for less than a year now and I’ve joined them as sailing master for their first regatta. This means a bit of tactics, some key navigation around the racetrack and helping with overall coaching. It’s all about adding the bits that we worked on the day before, to keep improving.

“Our expectations are to go out, have fun and improve our performance each day, and we have already ticked that box. We are here to do well – but most importantly to enjoy our sailing.

“We have a longer island course today, which is amazing – hopefully with less whales than yesterday! We had a port-starboard and we were definitely on port!

“There’s a cool little fleet in the 40-42-foot competition, Farr 40s and the Welbourne 40 Wedgetail, also from Brisbane, and Zoe as always good competition.

“And eyes out the boat always. Most of us are not exposed to these tides and currents so it is about refreshing the memory bank, appreciating back-eddies, and looking at the water as well as the digital information. Even coming into Dent Passage for the finish there are two big back-eddies that feature strongly, with up to three knots of current – so cutting the corner is not always the best answer!” Jackson added.

The spirit of Hamilton Island Race Week is family and friendship. Three young sailors, Pippa, Matt and Ben, whose racing plans were derailed on their delivery north on Masala, have embraced this as they ‘hitchhike’ their way through the week – holding signs for anyone “looking 4 crew”, with promises of beer for a ride.

The locals even joined in on the camaraderie, as a whale and her calf greeted crews as they crossed the finish line.

With a lay day tomorrow, the close to 2,000 sailors will have a break from competition to continue enjoying the beautiful Whitsunday surrounds, island festivities, and fun.

Results are available at

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Nic Douglass – Sailing Content Manager HIRW | | 0402 454 885

Lisa RatcliffSpecialist Content Creator HIRW | | 0418 428 511

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