HIRW 2023 – Perfect opening day

By Blue Robinson/HIRW media

Perfect opening day at Hamilton Island Race Week

Hamilton Island Race Week 2023 got underway in stunning conditions, with sunshine and a south-easterly breeze of 18-22 knots for the fleet of close to 180.

The thirteen divisions were split over two start areas, Eastern and Dent Passage. In the prestigious Rating Division 1, John Winning Jr’s 100-foot Andoo Comanche took bragging rights on day-one. It was a tight race, with the Oatley family’s same-sized maxi Hamilton Island Wild Oats XI less than four minutes behind. Duncan Hine’s RP66 Alive leads on handicap, with an impressive opening race.

One of the smaller boats in the fleet, in the trailable yachts division, Barely Legal was the fastest boat in all divisions and the first boat home with a time of 1hr 18 minutes.

“Today was just a good solid win, and a really bumpy seaway for this size boat, but reaching and up-wind it was just a pleasure. A tough pleasure, but a pleasure!” said Andrew Buckland on Barely Legal.

In the Multihull Black Division, the high-performance multihulls, it was Dale Mitchell’s Rex that charged home in a time of 1:39:41, followed by the Extreme 40 Angus, skippered by Michael Van Der Zwaard. Given the trade wind forecast, the Rex – Angus battle promises to bring plenty of tight, high-speed action throughout the week.

Today’s racing followed the stunning opening night’s celebration, which included a heartfelt welcome from Sandy Oatley, opening the event to a backdrop of fireworks, live music and plenty of catching up between sailors.

The starts were a testament to the Race Committee’s expertise, with all races getting away cleanly and on time. Regatta Director Denis Thompson was delighted with the day.

“Today was a perfect sailing day. The breeze averaged 18-20 knots and we had sunny skies, so a good start to the series, and we expect the rest of the week to be similar. It’s a great event and will be a spectacular regatta with lots of boats rushing around the Whitsundays flying spinnakers, in turquoise waters, with trade winds and whales with their young nearby – everything is perfect,” Thompson said.

The 2023 fleet features a cross section of boats from every Australian state, and five international yachts from New Zealand and New Caledonia. Close to 180 yachts and over 2,000 sailors from around the country and the world, who put on a sensational opening display for those spectating from the Bommie Deck at Hamilton Island Yacht Club.

Results are available at https://www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au/

@hamiltonislandraceweek @hamiltonisland

Nic Douglass – Sailing Content Manager HIRW | nic@nicdouglass.org | 0402 454 885

Lisa RatcliffSpecialist Content Creator HIRW | lisa@occ.net.au | 0418 428 511   

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