The Whitsundays turned on the best yet for the 182-strong fleet at the midway point at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. Three days down, a well-earned layday tomorrow then three more to wrap up the premiere series.
Consistent sou’easters at 10-12 knots and sunshine blessed the fleet. IRC divisions 1 and 2 and performance racing completed the stunning 32 nautical mile Club Marine medium distance race around North Molle and Henning islands back to the finish in Dent Passage off Hamilton Island Yacht Club.
Bob Oatley was aboard his 100 footer Wild Oats XI for today’s race, so was guru yachting journalist Bob Fisher all the way from the UK for his first Race Week.
“We are tinkering away doing our own thing as we get ready for this year’s Hobart race,” said Wild Oats XI’s helmsman Mark Richards this afternoon off the back of another line honours win.
On corrected time Karl Kwok’s TP52 Team Beau Geste leads IRC division 1 thanks to today’s second overall win. Stephen Barlow’s Farr 40 called Forty is the new pointscore leader in division 2 and Matt Owen’s Local Hero is refusing to give up the top spot in division 3.
Growth in the multihull and cruising divisions have boosted the Race Week fleet. Five multihulls were part of the inaugural multihull division in 2013. This year 21 racing and cruising multihulls answered the call.
Ian Torode’s Lightwave 38 called Fluffy Muffy took overall honours in today’s around-the-islands race in the multihull cruising division. “Today was a perfect regatta day,” said Torode. “We had a lovely start and got our nose in front so were quite happy. There are three of us on board: my brother and I plus a ring-in from the local gym.”
The rise of the multihulls is only going to increase says the owner of the Catana 59 Cap Rocat, Peter Dyer. “It was always Airlie Beach regatta that welcomed multihulls. Racing multis is becoming more and more popular; Hamilton Island is a mecca for it. I believe sales are increasing by 15% a year. With the America’s Cup using multihulls I think you’ll see faster boats being built and more people wanting to be first across the finish line.”
Three bullets for Leslie Green’s Ginger on the windward/leeward course at Turtle Bay to the east of Hamilton Island have the Sydney boat comfortably out in front at the half way mark of the MC38 class’ Australian championship. Ginger’s smiling tactician David Chapman said, “Today was about good teamwork. There was no right side of the course; it was pretty shifty. We sailed smart and found clear lanes and good boat speed. We took the opportunities when they presented themselves.”
Light air sailing isn’t optimal for the 27 ton Maxi Ragamuffin owned by Keith Batt, but the three-time Sydney Hobart line honours winner managed a win on corrected time in Cruising division 1 today, Tuesday August 19, 2014.
Tomorrow is a day of rest, for crews to pack lunch and head to Whitehaven beach or one of the many other world-beating natural wonders at and around Hamilton Island. For those staying on the island there’s a full program of activities starting with free beachside yoga at 7am, the Audi Drive Challenge from 8am-5pm, Beachside Pool Party from 11am at the main pool and champagne lunch presented by Piper Heidsieck at the Outrigger Marquee and the Charles Heidsieck and MR PORTER.COM lunch at qualia.
Racing resumes Thursday and the forecast for S-SE 14-18kts, potentially stronger locally at times, has the near 2,000 gathered yachties salivating at the chance to ramp up.
Lisa Ratcliff, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014