Main photo: Stefan Racing was third over the finish line. Photo Salty Dingo

An overcast morning, but the sun came out in time for racing at Hamilton Island Race Week in Queensland, including those contesting the Australian Sailing’s 2022 Australian Yachting Championships (AYC), who contested island courses on Day 3, starting at five minute intervals from 10.55am.

Rating Division Zero and Multihull Racing set off on a 25.7 nautical mile race at 10.55am, starting at the Eastern Starting Line and taking in Dungurra and Dent Islands, White Rock and Denman Island.

Behind them, Rating Division 1 was on a 24.8nm race with Ann, Cole, Dent and Denman Islands featured in the course.  Rating Division 2’s race was a shortened version of Rating Division Zero, with fewer islands involved and Divisions 3 and 4 took off on a 20nm course that involved Pentecost and Dent Islands. 

Michael Bellingham, a navigator on Whisper, said this morning: “It won’t be more than 10 knots, but the yachts are so fast these days, we’ll get around the course quite quickly. He proved correct.

Commenting on the courses, Regatta Director Denis Thompson said, “Everyone’s had two hard days of racing and there’s more big weather on the way after tomorrow’s lay day, so we’ve kept it simple today.”

Division Zero

The two super maxis went hard at it again, chasing and weaving off the start as each tried to exert power over the other. And in a thriller towards the end, Andoo Comanche (John Winning Jr, NSW) and the Oatley family’s Hamilton Island Wild Oats (skippered by Mark Richards), split, coming home from opposite ends of Dent. 

Andoo Comanche’s light weather power worked to advantage and she crossed the finish first, but it was a much closer finish than the previous two days, a minute and a half between them.

The Grant Wharington skippered Stefan Racing, a Botin 80, crossed third over the line after leaving the dock early for some practice. When the division had finished, Phillip Turner’s RP66, Alive, with Duncan Hine skippering, came out on top by some seven minutes over David Griffith’s Whisper.

That makes it two straight wins for Alive (Tas), which now leads the pointscore with by a point to Whisper with three races remaining.

Hine said this afternoon, “It wasn’t a constant breeze, there were a lot of swings in it, making it interesting and tactical. It was quite a tricky course,” he said of the wind that was up and down and reached a 14 knot maximum on their course.

“We were beaten by Whisper in the Big Boat Challenge (precursor to the Rolex Sydney Hobart), so they are a good guide for our boat,” he said, adding, “We’re a good boat and we’re pleased with our performance.”

Division 1 – TP52’s

David Doherty’s Matador struck gold today, winning Race 3 from the seemingly unstoppable Caro (SUI). Just over a minute separated the pair, with Ichi Ban (Matt Allen, NSW) taking third place again.

Division 2

A new winner stepped up to the plate in Division 2 today. Gerry Hatton, owner of the Mat 1245, Bushranger (NSW) called the top place his own. Bushranger scored a good win over Brendan McAssey’s S1 (NSW) and Ian Box’s Toy Box 2 (NSW). The latter two boats are from Middle Harbour Yacht Club and all three know each other well from the events they share in common in NSW. 

“It was a fairly easy breeze day, around 8-10 knots all race,” Hatton said. “Why did we win? Because we didn’t make any mistakes. We  didn’t do anything clever or stupendous, we just had a good day.

“Amazing Grace (Malcolm Roe, NSW) was sitting on us for a while and Toy Box 2 gave us a good run too. When we turned west after a long run downwind, the boats in our division converged, so we saw everyone again. It was a nice day’s sail,” ended the Pittwater sailor who has moved up to second in the overall standings.

Division 3

Ray Roberts and his Team Hollywood (NSW) did it again, making it three wins from three races. Second was PP1 (Jeremy O’Connell, Vic) in second and David Redfern made the podium today with Not a Diamond (Qld), filling out the top three.

Roberts said of his Botin 40s performance, “Hollywood came off the start at the pin end and for the first 60 percent of the beat led the fleet. However, the rest of the fleet picked us up when they had major tidal release, which pushed them ahead of us.

“By the time we got along the northerly shore of Pentecost, we had tidal release and moved back into first place. The rest of the race was tight with us and PP1. They sailed a consistently good race; we only pipped them at the end. My team have sailed consistently well.”

Division 4

Finally Garry Holt’s Get It On was beaten. Ari Abrahams’ Xpresso (Vic) packed the necessary punch, taking just over two minutes out of the Adams 10, after the latter was forced over the line early at the start, so had to re-start. 

“We had a great day. We are proudly sailing with a majority female crew. There are nine of us on board of which five are women,” Abrahams stated. “We had a good clear air start and made good gains up the first beat, nearly catching the Division 3 boats. The boat is sailing well.

“The wind dropped out a bit downwind and our fleet compressed a bit. There was a tricky transition from spinnaker to Code Zero, but then we enjoyed a comfortable flat water ride to the finish. We were a bit lucky with Get It On having to re-start. Cicero (Mark Hellyer, NSW) beat us over the line, but they give us time.

“The bonus was we saw five or six whales,”  Abrahams ended.

Multihull Racing

The ORMA 60 Rex, driven by Whitsunday’s multihull whizz Dale Mitchell, was only a few minutes behind the two super maxis at the Dent Passage finish. However, Angus, the Extreme 40 owned by Michel Van Der Zwaard (Qld) came up with the goods again to win. They now narrowly lead the series from the big ‘60’ by one point.

The Australian Yachting Championships are being held in conjunction with Hamilton Island Race Week. Tomorrow, Wednesday, is a lay day.   

By Di Pearson
Australian Sailing media