Main photo: Secret Mens Business on the beat to the finish. Photo Salty Dingo

The Australian Sailing’s 2022 Australian Yachting Championships (AYC) began in fine style at Hamilton Island Race Week today, brilliant sunshine and ideal winds set the scene for the Rating and the Multihull Racing divisions on their way from the Eastern Starting Line this morning and whales along the course added to the Whitsunday scenery.

Andoo was first home and took third place overall. Photo Salty Dingo
Andoo was first home and took third place overall. Photo Salty Dingo

Division Zero

The two 100 footers, Hamilton Island Wild Oats XI (Oatley family, Qld) and Andoo Comanche (John Winning Jr, NSW) were first off the start and match raced straight off the bat. As the short race around the Molle islands wore on, Winning’s boat asserted her authority, stretching the distance between the two to the finish. They were spectacular to watch.

Others in the division are Stefan Racing, skippered by Grant Wharington, Phillip Turner’s 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart winner, Alive (Tas), No Limit (David Gotze, Vic) and Whisper (David Griffith, NSW). They had their own battle going on behind their larger rivals.

David Griffith at the helm of Whisper. Photo Salty Dingo

At the end of the day, Whisper won the day from Alive and Andoo Comanche.

“It was a very tactical race,” Griffith said. “We got a great start courtesy of Michael Coxon, who is among our cast of stars. We got Grant Simmer, Michael Bellingham and Tom Braidwood among others,” he said laughing.

“We had to work the critical parts of tide and shore to do well. The first and last works were hard work with lots of lifts and knocks.

“Alive got away from us, but we kept a close watch on them. It’s always good racing between us (Whisper is a JV62) and Alive (a RP66). With their canting keel and waterline length they can get away from us, so we have to work hard to keep in touch with them.”

Caro – first race in Australia – first win. Photo Salty Dingo

Division 1 – TP52’s

As Geoff Boettcher (Secret Mens Business) foretold yesterday, the newer TP’s, three-time defending champion Ichi Ban (Matt Allen, NSW) and the Max Klink skippered Caro (SUI),  battled it out up front on the water. The two are the newer kids on the block. Matador (David Doherty, NSW) Secret Mens Business (SA) and Gordon Ketelbey’s Zen (NSW) did all they could to stay in touch.

Caro is making her Australian debut here at Hamilton Island and has put Ichi Ban on notice, not to mention the other five TPs in the division. The handicaps sorted out the top three and they were: Caro, Matador, Ichi Ban.

“This was our first time lining up with any of the Australian boats, so we had no idea how we’d go,” Caro’s Justin Ferris said.

“We had a great race with Ichi Ban. We caught them and passed them on the run. We’d rather free race, but you have no choice with two boats newer than the rest,” he said of Caro, which was built in 2021 and Ichi Ban, which launched in 2017.

“We had an awesome day. Perfect conditions. Everyone on board had a great day,” continued Ferris, who along with a couple of his crew mates, has raced at Hamilton Island previously.

“The majority of the crew come from Europe though, so it’s a big learning curve with the conditions, course and the effect the tide has, that we’re not familiar with.”

Division 2

Twelve yachts are battling for the top three places in Division 2. All on Maritimo (Bill Barry-Cotter, Qld) were totally focussed from the start and got away well  at the favoured pin end of the start line. Gerry Hatton’s Bushranger, a champion boat from Pittwater in NSW, also gave the start a good crack.

Bruce McCraken’s Beneteau First 45, Ikon (Vic) had the goods on the rest though. Maritimo had to settle for second and Bushranger third.

Division 3

This division is a mix including the MC38’s, although a couple were missing from the start line today, the Reichel/Pugh 42, Not a Diamond (David Redfern, Qld) and Ray Roberts’ Team Hollywood (NSW) direct from her win at Airlie Beach Race Week, among others. The MC38, Lazy Dog (Shaun Lane, NSW), jumped the gun and had to return and re-start.

Team Hollywood won the day from Peter Chappell’s Barrett 9.5, The Cadillac (WA), by almost 10 minutes. Jeremy O’Connell’s PP1, a Cape 31 one-design.

Division 4

This division is also a mix of boats from Beneteaus to Adams 10’s, J122’s and others. Garry Holt, newly arrived from winning division at Airlie Beach with his tricked up Adams 10, Get It On (Qld) and contemporary, Flyaway The Red Boat (Ian Ford/Jared Macquart, NSW), got off the start together and went up the first beat the same way. Joss, the J122 skippered by Roberto Comacho (NSW), faced problems with the headsail but was soon back in action.

Get It On won the day from Ari Abrahams’s X Yacht, Xpresso, with Flyaway The Red Boat had to be content with third.

Angus got off to a flying start. Photo Salty Dingo

Multihull Racing

Michel Van Der Zwaard’s Extreme 40, Angus (Qld), was fastest off the line. Aboard is Rohan Veal, who would have been making sure they made a good escape from club mate Dale Mitchell at the helm of the ORMA 60, Rex (Qld). The latter was slow to start. She was soon up on one hull though, giving chase on the short race around the Molles, with the finish off Hamilton Island Yacht Club in full view of spectators at the Club.

Rex had her way in the end, taking the spoils by little more than four minutes from Angus. Bob Engwirda’s Coconuts (Qld), after following Angus over the start, was third.

“We stuffed up a tack going into the start, but it was a good race for us. A very nice breeze. It was the upper limit for us without having to put a reef in. It was a great course to sail too. We had a nice upwind all the way to Pentecost and a true downwind all way to Hannah Point with a nice flat sea state. A beautiful day out.”

The Australian Yachting Championships are being held in conjunction with Hamilton Island Race Week. Racing is taking place from 21-27 August in the Whitsundays. Tomorrow AYC fleet will sail another short around the islands race.

For full results and news, please visit:

For all the news on all divisions go to Hamilton Island Race Week

By Di Pearson
Australian Sailing media