Fierce battles continue at Hamilton Island Race Week

Racing crews are at the business end of Hamilton Island Race Week with one day remaining of the huge 36th edition.

Two windward-leewards for Multihull Racing and Rating Divisions 3 and 4, and passage races for the remaining divisions, split the 200 plus strong fleet either side of Hamilton Island. The trade winds did the rest – delivering magic conditions for sailors .

Clouds, swell, and wind produced epic shots. John Winning’s 100ft Andoo Comanche, which took line honours in the 29nm island race, was superbly dramatic as the super maxi buried its bow in swell just metres from the camera boat.

Hamilton Island Blue division has Robert Kelly’s Sydney-based RP52 Virago leading with one race remaining.

Kelly didn’t want a straight-out grand prix TP52, instead ordering a Reichel Pugh design that is wider, heavier and had enough room to transition all the crew from Virago II, his resplendent one-off Farr design cruiser-racer based in Sydney.

Masquerade – Salty Dingo, HIRW pic

Virago’s tactician Andrew Parkes said: “The boat likes quite stiff conditions and lots of reaching. We work to improve its light air performance, but we do love breeze, so this second half of the week has been amazing.”

The tiny trailable yachts had a big ask today, an 18 nautical mile race around Pentecost Island in 20 knots scaling back to 15 out of the south-east.

Trailables typically sail on lakes and waterways and always close to shore. At Race Week the division of 13, mostly Sonatas with a sprinkling of Ross 780s and Noelex 25s, are in the open ocean, carving their way through swell and tide, and staying clear of eddies, whales and super maxis doing five times their speed.

Three points separate first and third in the hard-fought Trailable yachts division, Tom Vujasinovic’s Masrm 750, Masquerade, holding out Michael Goss’ Snook 7.8 Halcyon and Stu Green’s local RL24 Rhumb Runna, which was leader until today’s passage race.

Wayne Millar and his freshly refitted and painted Murray 41 Zoe are an institution at Race Week – 22 consecutive years of competing and crewman Mark Vickers has been there for all of them. Zoe leads Hamilton Island Pink division by 1.5 points, setting up for another divisional play-off tomorrow with Mark Drobitko’s Fruit Salid 3 and Tim Dodds’ Mako.

Crosshair – Salty Dingo, HIRW pic

“This week’s been absolutely sensational. I’ve never appreciated Race Week so much as after two years away,” Millar said. “After 22 years the old body’s feeling every bump and wave.”

The two F32s from South Australia, Crosshair and Carbon Credit, are fighting for first place in Multihull White division, one point apart.

Tomorrow is the closing day of Hamilton Island Race Week 2022 and the forecast is SE-E 18- 22knots.

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