Two impressive new “Gun Boat” trophies will be introduced at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August this year to recognise the yachts that have dominated the race for line honours during the regatta.
One of the trophies will be awarded in the IRC Grand Prix Division, where the fastest yachts in the fleet will be competing. The other will go to what is judged to be the best performing line honours yacht across all remaining divisions.
“Just as line honours is well recognised by the public in the famous Rolex Sydney Hobart race, we think it only fitting that the fastest yachts are rewarded with their own trophy at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week,” said the island's CEO, Glenn Bourke, when announcing the new prizes today.
“There are a lot of yacht owners out there who make a distinct effort just to be first to finish rather than win on handicap, so it is only appropriate that we have a special trophy for them.”
Brisbane yachtsman Peter Harburg, whose 65-footer, Black Jack, scored the majority of line honours wins during last year's AHIRW, has welcomed news of the new trophies.
“While I appreciate the importance of winning on handicap, I find the race for being first home the most exciting part of sailing,” said Harburg. “There's something very special about crossing the line ahead of the fleet and hearing the gun.”
It's likely that Black Jack, and Bob Oatley's near sistership, Wild Oats X, will lock horns and stage an intense line honours battle across all nine races they will contest this year, just as they did last year. Determined efforts by these crews to achieve ‘the most bullets' during Race Week 2008 was one of the highlights of what was the 25th anniversary edition of the regatta.
However, they may not get things all their own way this year. Steven David's 60-footer, Wild Joe – a former Race Week champion – has been fine-tuned for this year and will be particularly competitive in light breezes. Also, there are indications other high performance yachts will soon nominate for the IRC Grand Prix Division.
There will be another special competition at AHIRW this year which can be won by yachts with no chance of topping the handicap results, or being first to finish.
It's the Prix d'Elegance, and it brings another dimension of fun and camaraderie to the regatta.
This year the Prix d'Elegance trophies will be awarded to The Best Presented Yacht and Crew (yacht in first-class trim, and matching crew uniforms), and The Best Fun-Themed Yacht and Crew (let your imagination run wild). It will be judged as the yachts depart the harbour for their respective starts on the morning of Friday, August 28.