Rugby great to start Brisbane to Hamilton Island Yacht Race

A classy and eclectic fleet is preparing to line up for Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron’s 2023 Yacht Sales Co. Brisbane to Hamilton Island Yacht Race, which starts on Moreton Bay at 11am on Friday 4 August when rugby great, ‘King’ Wally Lewis, fires the start gun to send the fleet on its way.

This year marks the 3rd edition of the warm water ‘Go North’ 530 nautical mile feeder race to the northern circuit of regattas. Adding some pizazz to the occasion, rugby great, ‘King’ Wally Lewis, will enjoy a sail on Andoo Comanche ahead of starting the race.

Rex (Qld), the ORMA 60 multihull skippered by Dale Mitchell and the 100ft Andoo Comanche skippered by John Winning Jr, finished first and second over the line in that order last year (there is no distinction between mono and multihulls for the line honours title in this race). It will be on between the pair again this year.

Among contenders for the overall win are the mini maxis: Alive, Phillip Turner’s 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart winner from Tasmania and NSW yachts, David Gotze’s No Limit (sporting a new light grey paint job) and David Griffith’s Whisper.

RQYS locals will be out to stop the interstate monopoly, including last year’s overall winner, Trouble & Strife (Matt Williams) and third placegetter, Not A Diamond (David Redfern).

Duncan Hine is in his usual role as skipper of Alive, a Reichel/Pugh 66. Hine lives in Queensland, so his local knowledge is handy. He maintains, “Everyone is our main competition!

“The race will be a great little tester after having the boat out of the water for maintenance and not having raced for a while. I’m looking forward to going sailing and testing the boat; that everything I’ve done to it is good and that I’ve made it faster.”

On the prospective weather, Hine says, “I think there might be a bit of breeze. Normally when the south-easter kicks in, which it has, it stays for a couple of weeks, so it should be a good race.”

This is a first serious offshore venture for David Doherty and his winning TP52, Matador from NSW: “I’ve never raced in a long offshore race before. I’ve only done some coastal stuff out of Sydney,” Doherty said.

Matador, launched in 2009, is the TP52 Doherty has skippered to convincing victories in the 2022 and 2023 TP52 Gold Cups. In the 2022 Australian Yachting Championship at Hamilton Island, they were only just beaten in Division 1 by brand new Caro, the TP52 that last week won the Rolex Fastnet Race in the UK.

“We thought we’d try something a little different for a change, see if we like it. We’re not getting enough racing in with the inshore stuff, so that’s also my motivation for doing the race,” Doherty said. It will be good training for us ahead of Hamilton Island Race Week too.

“I’ve never raced against the likes of the100 footers and some other regular offshore racers, so that will be interesting. I’m just hoping it will be a smooth sail. Early indications of the weather say it looks that way,” Doherty ended.

Of interest is the Sayer 45, MWF-Joy, a Newcastle based entry with Clipper Round the World Race winning skipper, Wendy Tuck, in charge.

MWF-Joy is like other Making Waves Foundation (MWF) yachts around Australia, their normal roles are taking children with disabilities and those living with social challenges out on sailing adventures.

Tuck says, “I’m taking a mixture of crew from all the places MWF is located: Sydney, Newcastle and Geelong. They’re all sailing volunteers from the program. The aim is to bring them together on a boat for the first time and make them feel part of one crew.

“I also have on board Michael Molesworth, who was a crew member of my first Clipper race (Da Nang – Viet Nam), who is now a volunteer with MWF,” explains Tuck, who also has 15 Sydney Hobarts behind her.

“We are the charity for the Brisbane to Hamilton Island race. Doing the race is a nice way to say thank you to Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron for making us the charity – we’re starting a MWF program out of the Club soon. We’re also racing to raise awareness for the Making Waves Foundation.”
Tuck has no expectations of winning the race, because the yacht (the former Colortile/Bashful/Taurus) has been adapted for disabled sailing: “The yacht isn’t as competitive as it was, but we will still be doing our best.”

The tropical race also features two-handed multi and monohull divisions, inclusive of Judicael Hillion’s mutli Kalolo from New Caledonia, to be co-skippered by David Treguier and Drew Carruthers’ Ker 40, Showdown (Qld).

The Yacht Sales Co. Brisbane to Hamilton Island Yacht Race, supported by Oatley Wines and Club Marine, is organised and conducted by the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron (RQYS) in conjunction with Hamilton Island Yacht Club (HIYC). It starts on Moreton Bay and finishes in a northerly direction in Dent Passage, Hamilton Island – an idyllic location to finish a yacht race.

All information including a link to the race tracker at: https://www.rqys.com.au/brisbane-to-hamilton-island-yacht-race/

You can also follow the race on Facebook at: @B2HIYR and

Instagram @brisbane_to_hamilton_island

By Di Pearson/RQYS media

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