Stronger winds forecast as Hamilton Island Race Week gets to the pointy end

The tradewinds are steadily building at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week towards the business end of the six day regatta, and with up to 25 knots due on Saturday the thrill and spill metre is on the rise.

Owner of the South Australian multihull Carbon Credit, Peter Hawker, had to swerve to avoid a whale calf that jumped out of the water 20 feet from the boat when they were powering downwind doing 15 knots in 12kts of S-SE breeze. The trimaran gybed away a second time to create some extra space, “We gybed away twice, we were worried that the mother or calf might breach again under or on top of the boat,” said Hawker. Photographer Andrea Francolini was in a helicopter and captured the moment.

Not long after the close encounter with the spirited junior, Hawker radioed the race committee to advise they were retiring after noticing a crack in the main beam between the two hulls. Carbon Credit is this afternoon moored at Airlie Beach. The boat’s regatta is over however the crew are planning to return to the island for the closing parties, and maybe pick up rides on other boats.

In IRC division 1 results three wins on the trot has Karl Kwok’s TP52 Team Beau Geste helmed by Will Tiller leading Phil Turner’s Hobart based Alive by the smallest of margins – one point. Heading off from the Dent Passage start Turner’s 66-footer, the former Black Jack, was kicking up a decent bow wave in 12-14kts of building pressure.

Hamilton Island CEO Glenn Bourke was at the helm of Bob Oatley’s supermaxi Wild Oats XI today, the four-time Laser world champion in the groove for the final third of the 23 nautical mile race around North Molle, Daydream, South Molle and Henning islands to the finish back in Dent Passage. Another line honours win belonged to Oatley who was aboard sitting comfortably in his specially designed chair on a track that can be moved up and down to suit the heel of the boat. The 86 year-old was at the helm of the lightweight AC45 Wild Oats yesterday. 

Performance racing boats were sent on a 20 nautical mile race around Daydream Island and White Rock. Including today’s points the two Volvo 60s are leading that division with two races remaining.

The Russell McCart skippered VO60 Spirit of Mateship, carrying a part-crew of soldiers from the Queensland RSL’s Mates4Mates program, is one point ahead of Bruce Absolon’s Spirit of the Maid, today’s race winner and a Hamilton Island entry. Walter Lewin’s Farr 400 Vento is third on the pointscore.

The cruising divisions make up the bulk of the 182-boat fleet at Race Week. Cruising division 2 winner today was Phil Jobe’s Kite Runner, a six-year-old Hanse 430e with eight crew on board. So far they are running in the top two thirds of the results table. “I've always dreamed about winning a division,” said Jobe. “We've been working hard; we've got decent sails and a good crew. I can’t believe it… I had a board meeting today and I wasn't on the boat for the win.”

Stand-in skipper John Bower said, “The conditions were ideal and suited the boat. We had excellent planning and team work. We had one altercation and had to do a 720 degree penalty turn at Daydream Island, but we overcame it and won!”

On today’s conditions Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson said, “It was a very fast race, after three days of light weather it was good to get some breeze finally. The forecast is for fresher tomorrow and 25 knots for the last day of the series on Saturday. That will be interesting….”

The forecast for the penultimate day of racing tomorrow, Friday August 22, 2014, is for 18-22kt S-SE winds, possibly locally stronger.


By Lisa Ratcliff/AHIRW media

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