From superyachts to sportboats is where Australia’s most spectacular week of keelboat racing, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, is planning to broaden its already legendary appeal this year.
Organisers of the regatta, which will be staged from 19 to 27 August, have announced that following the successful introduction of a superyacht sailing division last year, a superyacht division for motor yachts will be an additional feature at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2011.
At the same time the sportboat category, which sees the SB3 class already committed, will be expanded to include Melges 32s and other designs.
The inclusion of the superyacht division for motor yachts is a pioneering move that will further enhance the outstanding sailing and social program being planned for the pleasure of all competitors, family and friends attending Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2011. The competition for these particular vessels will be a significant step away from the ‘predicted log’ type challenge that is usually the basis for a motor yacht event.
The novel format, which is currently being finalised, is set to test the skills of the crews both afloat and ashore. When on the water they will be competing in areas away from the yacht racing.
‘Our aim has always been to make Audi Hamilton Island Race Week something very special: a benchmark for yachting regattas on the world scene and one every competitor will enjoy,’ said Hamilton Island’s chairman, Sandy Oatley.
‘By expanding the sportboat division and including powered superyachts this year we will be presenting an amazing range of marine competition across the week. At the same time it must be said that every entry, from the smallest sportboat and cruising yacht to the largest superyacht, will be equally important to us. We want everyone who is there to have a great time while sailing on some of the best waters imaginable and to have great fun onshore.’
Already the 40-metre long sailing superyacht, Janice of Wyoming, which is currently in Auckland, has indicated it will be entering Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2011. The widely accepted definition of a superyacht is a vessel with an overall length of 24.38 metres (80ft) or greater.
Also, six months prior to the regatta, the first international entry has been received. New Zealand sailing legend Jim Farmer and co-owner Chris Meads plan to return with their impressive IRC52 racer, Georgia. At last year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week Georgia was a member of the Kiwi team which removed the South Pacific Cup from Australian hands.
Hamilton Island Race Week’s naming rights sponsor, luxury car maker Audi, is Australia’s largest corporate sponsor of yachting.
The seal was broken off the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week cap with the promise of a just over a week of racing in the stunning Whitsunday Islands group spectacularly previewed with today’s opening 23.3 nautical mile Lindeman Island Race.
Starting from the eastern start line the fleet worked their way up to Lindeman Island and back down to the finish in Dent Passage under spinnaker in a colour explosion back dropped by sparkling skies.
Simon Hull’s New Zealand based Orma 60 trimaran TeamVodafoneSailing started lucky last and climbed its way up through the entire fleet to take the gun and the win in the Super Multihull Division.
Bob Oatley’s 100 foot supermaxi Wild Oats XI scored its first line honours victory in the IRC Class A grand prix division, beating Anthony Bell’s Elliott designed 100 footer, Investec Loyal.
Wild Oats XI is fully loaded in the afterguard for this week’s outing, the combined grey matter of skipper Mark Richards, tactician Grant Simmer, Iain Murray and navigators Adrienne Cahalan and Ian Burns adding serious kudos. This combination and the recent upgrade to twin retractable centreboards rather than a forward rudder has added another gear to the champion as she barrels towards this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart.
Bell only recently entered the big boat league but he has a fire in his belly and plenty of knowledge in his ear with Billy Merrington and Michael Coxon among his pro crew. “Oats got the better of us today” Bell said, adding cheekily, “we’ll get them tomorrow”.
Marcus Blackmore’s TP52 Hooligan, the hottest IRC rated yacht on the Australian east coast, continued its winning ways today, taking the handicap win in the grand prix division over Stephen Ainsworth’s consummate RP63 Loki, last year’s grand prix divisional winner.
Loki’s helmsman Gordon Maguire’s reaction time was tested in the starting sequence when Rob Hanna suddenly tacked his TP52 Shogun to avoid crossing the start line early, his stern slewing and almost clipping Loki as Maguire was forced to steer wide amidst the shouting and gesturing.
Perfect conditions blessed the opening day of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, the 28th edition, with sunny skies and a reasonably consistent 15 knot sou’easter easing the 195 strong fleet into the event’s varied program of on and off water events. The sailing calendar includes island courses, windward/leeward racing and a one design competition for the SB3s beginning on Monday while ashore there’s a glittering social program designed to satisfy all tastes and budgets.
Tomorrow the fleet will split with IRC A, IRC Passage Class B and the Melges short course racing while the remaining divisions will be sent on an island course.
Fast racing in perfect conditions at Hamilton Island
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week’s IRC Class A Grand Prix and B riders and starters had their first day of taxing windward/leeward races in bumpy seas and a brisk 18-20 knot south easterly trade breeze.
Bob Oatley’s supermaxi Wild Oats XI continued its line honours winning form, spoiling Anthony Bell and Investec Loyal’s chances of getting on the scoreboard with three bullets from three starts. The unblemished run of Marcus Blackmore’s TP52 Hooligan also remains intact with the perfect scorecard on handicap after three races.
The photographers were rubbing their hands and the docks were abuzz this morning when flags started flapping early, indicating a sensational day of wind and clear skies ahead with more breeze forecast for tomorrow and up to 30 knots expected for Tuesday.
Generally the grand prix classes treat Audi Hamilton Island Race Week more seriously, some under strict nightly curfews imposed by professional coaches and morning fitness programs to wake up the muscles and kick start the adrenaline.
Anyone not fully conscious by the time they left Hamilton Island’s marina would have been slapped awake by the first gust and salt spray as the fleet left the island’s protection and headed for open water for three wet and exhilarating W/L races likely to yield the series’ cover shots.
Yesterday’s minor gear breakdowns hurt Bell’s chances of catching the Mark Richards skippered Wild Oats XI and his luck failed to turn today with his giant spinnaker suddenly breaking free on a downwind run in race two of the series. Bell was forced to stall the Elliott design head to wind, losing time while the crew dragged the waterlogged chute back on deck.
On handicap in race two of the series, Victorian Rob Hanna’s older generation TP52 Shogun threatened to put the clamps on Marcus Blackmore’s newer TP52 Hooligan, but couldn’t quite claim the prized scalp, finishing second by 33 seconds with Loki (Stephen Ainsworth) third. In race three second and third were reversed with Loki’s sharp crew work putting them into second and Shogun into third.
Blackmore has triple world Laser champion, Etchells world champion and ISAF Rolex Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby calling the shots while Hanna has the clout of NZ ace and multiple round the world yachtsman Stu Bannatyne.
This will be Hanna’s last major regatta with his 2006 built TP, his newer version, currently racing as Matador for the Audi MedCup circuit, is due to arrive in Australia in November and should be prepped by the Rolex Trophy in December.
In the IRC Passage Class B division Darryl Hodginson’s Beneteau 45 Victoire is clubhouse leader after three races, today’s two firsts in race two and three and yesterday’s second putting the rest of the division on notice.
Ian Oatley’s radical RP42 Q retired from the first race of the day citing gear failure and Phil Molony’s Papillon was a Class B division casualty as the heavy seaway took its toll.
Tomorrow the IRC divisions will join the Cruising, Non Spinnaker and Super Multihull divisions for an islands race while the Performance Racing divisions will have their turn on the windward/leeward course area.
The forecast SE 20/25 knot wind will light up the Audi Hamilton Island Race fleet while Tuesday’s expected 20/30 knots will test the strength and endurance of both boats and crew.
Final results a
22 August 2011
The SB3s began their four day competition as part of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and as expected, Island CEO Glenn Bourke scored first runs, but not without incident.
The fleet of 13 were sent to a course area in Dent Passage protected from the worst of the strong south easterlies. “We had 15 to 22 knots of quite shifty wind. It was so good, the downwind rides were electric,” said class rep Rod Jones who is mainsail trimmer on Bourke’s leading SB3 Club Marine HI.
Club Marine HI and last year’s winner, Phil Gray’s Dulon Polish locked together during a port/starboard incident, Gray’s day sadly cut short when the rig came down in two pieces and bent.
No-one was injured, “just emotionally damaged” said Gray. He and bowman Jordan Spencer used to race in the 505 class, now they race SB3s with a third crewmember, Gary Crick. “It’s the same combination as when we won last year.....except we had a better rig,” laughs Gray, warming up.
Jones is this afternoon helping Gray and his crew install a replacement mast so they can continue racing. As for retaining their crown, today’s skirmish has severely harmed their chances.
Club Marine HI’s two wins and a fifth has put them at the top of the leaderboard with Nick Rogers’ Toll Shipping second and Brett Cooper’s Please Explain third after three races.
The three cruising and non-spinnaker divisions raced a scenic 17 nautical mile course from Dent Passage across a challenging Whitsunday Passage, whipped up by wind fighting tide, to White Rock and Denman Island and back to the finish line off Hamilton Island Yacht Club.
Derek Cragg’s chartered Jeanneau 36i Knee Deep, representing the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, is now leading the Cruising Division 3 series results by two points after three races. The chartered Jeanneau is being crewed by a group of seven Hobart based friends, all accomplished sailors who have tickled the boat to their liking.
“We have done a lot of tweaking to make the boat more like a race boat. We bought some of our own sails plus our own sheets and braces and other gear. We’ve worked hard to get the boat going fast,” said Cragg. “We’d of course love to bring our own boat but it’s such a long way for us.”
The SB3 sailor is planning to contest next year’s Race Week in an SB3 with a view to lining up for the class’ world championship being hosted by Hamilton Island in December 2012.
Simon Hull’s New Zealand TeamVodafoneSailing trimaran reached a top speed of 32 knots today, and that was with two reefs in the main and a small headsail. “We had some pretty good bursts, I had to watch that I didn’t stick the bow into a wave and trip over,” said Hull.
He’s hoping other multihull owners will add Audi Hamilton Island Race Week to their 2012 schedule. For now he and his Kiwi crew of 11 are whizzing around the courses, weaving their way through the rest of the fleet from the back of the pack and showing the awesome power of the Orma 60 trimaran.
Tomorrow is the Club Marine Classic Long Race for IRC Grand Prix Class A, IRC Passage Class B and the Super Multihulls and the Double Cones Island Race for Performance Racing and IRC Passage Class C. The cruising and non-spinnaker divisions will race an islands course and the Melges 32 Sports Boats and SB3s will tackle windward/leewards.
Results at http://www.topyacht.net.au/results/2...ries/index.htm
Loki's luck runs out
The wind howled all night and 30 plus knots of south easterly breeze greeted the starters on the race track, packing plenty of punch for the longest races of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.
Second on the IRC Class A Grand Prix pointscore heading into day four, Stephen Ainsworth’s RP63 Loki was the highest profile casualty, less than five minutes after their start in Dent Passage. Gear failure resulted in one of the mast’s sweptback spreaders punching a giant hole through the mainsail, the cloth torn to pieces like a cannon ball had been shot through it.
“We will try and repair it,” said an optimistic Ainsworth. “Our crewman Billy Sykes from North Sails thinks it can be fixed with Sikaflex. Luckily we have a layday tomorrow.
“We do have a spare mainsail but it’s smaller than this one and with the forecast lightening off we need to stay powered up. We will drop today’s race and carry our worst result so far of a third, and if we have to use our spare at least we will be sailing.”
Two crewmen were hoisted up Loki’s mast to try and bring the pieces down without further tearing.
With boats still finishing, corrected time results are still a while off but with Loki out of the hunt, one of the TP52s is likely to claim the handicap top tier. These lightweight fliers were hammering down Whitsunday Passage under spinnaker with the spray flying and all crew crammed at the aft quarter to keep the weight in the stern and the boat flat.
Other early casualties were Bruce Absolon’s Spirit of the Maid, Roland Dane’s Tofinu 9.5 Jessandra, which retired with a broken boom, and Janet Dean’s Adams 10 Grizzly which was forced out with a broken mast.
Bob Oatley’s supermaxi Wild Oats XI, a five-time Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winner, is in a class of its own at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. The 100 footer absorbed the worst of the bumps in a choppy Whitsunday Passage and stretched away from Investec Loyal to claim yet another line honours win, this time in the 63 nautical mile Club Marine Classic Long Race.
Wild Oats XI finished in Dent Passage at 2.08pm this afternoon, giving her an average speed of just over 13 knots over the course.
Anthony Bell’s 100 footer Investec Loyal again struck issues with its furling spinnaker, losing precious time and the opportunity to claw Oats back.
Today’s Club Marine Classic Long Race was a new course at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week for the IRC Grand Prix and IRC Passage Class B divisions. They were sent by Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson past the Molle Islands, around Double Cone and Armit Island and back up to Pentecost via South Molle Island before finishing in Dent Passage.
Racing was abandoned for the cruising and non-spinnaker divisions while the Melges 32 Sports Boats and SB3s raced windward/leewards in Dent Passage.