The impressive IRC Invitation division led the other Audi Hamilton Island Race Week classes contesting yesterday's passage races north out of Dent Island in a building ESE breeze that was bulleting on the north western corner of Dent Island, causing plenty of spinnakers to collapse suddenly.
At 98 feet, Peter Millard's Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron registered Lahana is the biggest of them all and not surprisingly has taken more line honours wins than the rest in its division. On corrected time the white hulled maxi is the other side of the half way mark, but more importantly the sizable crew of 28 is making the most of the opportunity for valuable time on the water with the Whitsundays their backdrop.
Lahana , formerly NZ maxi Zana/Konica Minolta, is one of six 98 and 100 foot maxis expected on this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start line and is using Audi Hamilton Island Race Week to put some miles and crew experience into the bank in the lead up to the Boxing Day blue water classic.
Andrew Short's RP80 Club Marine Shockwave is another Invitation division headline act, followed by the two Volvo 60s and the stunning Marten 49s.
In what were perfect Swan-type conditions, Leslie Green's Swan 60 Ginger scored its second back to back handicap victory to be leading the IRC Invitation division by three points from Bruce Hogan's Perpetual Mocean with a day's racing to go. Ginger's crew spotted a whale on the course at Dent Island.
The IRC Invitation division was sent on a stunning 26.5 nautical mile course around Dent, Pine, Sidney and Pentecost islands.
IRC Passage 2, Performance 2 and Cruising Division 1 sailed a slightly shorted course, leaving Sidney Island out, while Cruising 2 and 3 and non-spinnaker went shorter again, sailing 23.4 nautical miles.
Performance Racing Division 2 leader Wirrajurnd from Sydney, named by its original lawyer owner, has held onto pole position leading into today's final Molle Islands race which will start from Dent Passage at 0930hrs when the procession will head out of the Passage at five minute intervals.
“We got second over the line today which is pretty good for a 32 footer,” said Wirrajurnd's owner Andy Kearnan yesterday.
“We are looking forward to tomorrow's Molle island course, it's one of the greatest courses of the regatta.” And on his chances of bettering last year's third place Kearnan is not jumping ahead of himself. “Every day is a new day,” he said.
Yesterday morning the vast majority of the 194 Race Week entries paraded in front of the judges for the annual Prix d'Elegance for the best presented yacht and crew and the best fun-themed yacht and crew. Michael Jacksons, Mexicans and a crew decked out in imported safari suits, including pith helmets for all, were amongst the highlights. The judges' decision will be announced at this evening's trophy presentation, the final event of another Audi Hamilton Island Race Week showstopper.