Mad aliens and wipe-outs at windy Hamilton Island Race Week
The brand new Tf10 Mad Max up on one hull through a gybe and Kim William’s Melges 32 Rock n Roll living up to its name by performing a massive wipe-out at the northern end of Dent Island in a gust made for a colourful day four of racing at Hamilton Island Race Week.
This was after some morning frivolity when crews dressed up as superheroes, Star Wars characters and a boatload of vitamin-fuelled (some suggested), green-suited aliens on Marcus Blackmore’s IRC division 1 clear leader, Hooligan.
The second-largest fleet in event history is finding the 36th edition the windiest for some years and the trade winds are set to hold for the series’ two remaining days. On the cards for Friday is 20-25 knots though a daily trend is fresh morning breeze which moderates significantly after lunch. Today the fleet was hit by a heavy 30 knot south-easterly as they nosed out of the marina and a few hours on they were re-moding for single figure breeze.
Day four racing highlights thanks to Broadkast. See 3 mins in for the wipeout of Rock n Roll, Hamilton Island Pink division pointscore leader after four races.
In Multihull Racing division, Michel Van Der Zwaard’s Extreme 40 Back in Black is leading Tony Considine’s striking Tf10 trimaran Mad Max.
For Van Der Zwaard the points lead is reward for tenacity for staying out when the other Extreme 40s pulled the pin early, given the sea-state out on the eastern starting area. He does have an enviable crew of national and world champions in various multihull classes on board, including the current Tornado world champions Brett Burville and Max Puttman.
“We sailed pretty conservatively, reaching across the bottom of Hamilton Island and Dent Island at 21 – 22 knots; just ploughing into those waves we held back a bit,” said the skipper. “The closer we got to the top of Long island the flatter it got, and we let go. We were going pretty hot then.”
In true Aussie fashion, crewman Rohan Veal was happy to tease the other Extreme crews: “we’ll go to the hardware store and buy some cement, and give them a spoonful each”, though he added that the Back in Black crew would try to find a way to support the other crews for the remainder of the regatta, Australia’s best-loved offshore series that began in 1984.
There’s a ding-dong battle in progress at the top of IRC division 3 results, with Ross Wilson’s Beneteau First 47.7 Eagle Rock leading Bruce McCracken’s First 45 Ikon by five points. It was Ikon’s day today, taking two bullets in tricky conditions of easing winds and lumpy seas.
“We’re very happy with how today went. It was all about trimming and our guys handled that really well; we also hung onto our kite longer than others and that paid off, and I’d put our margin in the second race down to sail selection,” said McCracken.
Hooligan enjoyed another glamour day on the water with a first and second place leaving the Sydney boat five points clear of the Oatley family’s RP66 Wild Oats X, skippered by Mark Richards. Gordon Ketelbey’s TP52 Zen is tied on 16 points with David Griffith’s JV 62 Chinese Whisper, for third and fourth respectively.
Four races in and two to go and Mark Beale’s Clubman 8 called Ray White Kameruka leads the Trailable Yacht division by a slim one-point margin. “We are in with a chance but there are a couple making a strong finish – they are the ones to watch out for!” Beale said after racing. “Hamilton Island is a step-up for the after-racing entertainment and 234 boats is just crazy, as is dodging the big boats; an average boat here is a 50-footer! Hopefully we can get up and get a prize at Saturday’s presentation dinner.”
The annual Prix d’Elegance parade of yachts before the judges on the yacht club’s Bommie deck was as engaging and entertaining as ever. Surprise packages this year came from the IRC divisions with the Wild Oats X team offering a fine tribute to the late Bob Oatley, all dressed as Popeye, the name by which he was known to his family and close friends. Marcus Blackmore’s entire team of pro sailors and the owner were decked out head-to-toe in tight-fitting green body suits, reflecting the alien beings of Area 51 in the Nevada Desert.