Final Hamilton Island Race Week blast
A final blast to the Molle Islands and back in trade winds up to 22 knots closed out the 38th Hamilton Island Race Week and decided the trophy winners in divisions where the top placings were still up for grabs.
The near 180-strong fleet featured a cross section of boats from every Australian state plus five international yachts, four from New Zealand and one from New Caledonia. Close to 2,000 sailors put on a sensational display across the week, both in terms of performance and mateship.
Heartfelt stories from around the waterfront included crews with skilled trades among them arriving to make repairs on damaged boats, without a call for help going out.
Tonight the sailing community is gathering for one last time at Race Week, at the Hamilton Island Conference Centre, to receive their accolades and celebrate an important milestone alongside the Oatley family – 20 years since they acquired Hamilton Island.
Duncan Hine’s RP66 Alive was the Rating Division 1 guaranteed victor prior to the final 32 nautical mile traditional series-ending Molle Islands race. The Tasmanian mini maxi scored consecutive firsts across seven races, crewman Darren Jones saying, “it was an incredible week. We are very lucky to have such a solid team on board.”
Some of the legends on Alive’s crew list include Chris Nicholson, Stu Bannatyne and Adrienne Cahalan, who has signed on as navigator for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart.
“The blend of really good experience at the back of the boat and personalities that all combine make a solid team, which is shown in the results,” Jones added. “With these island races and the tide running, local knowledge comes into it and again, we have amazing experience, which means we can pick and choose from the data we get.
“We are doing the program leading up to the Hobart Race. We’ve really turned Alive into a windward/leeward boat, which is a different mindset.”
In Rating Division 2, David Doherty’s TP52 from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Matador, almost made a clean sweep – their worst was a second place. Matador’s outstanding performance put them a whopping 10.5 points clear of Bill Barry-Cotter’s TP52 Maritimo in second.
“We had the best week; we didn’t make many mistakes and the boat is quick at the moment,” Doherty said.
Jared Macquart’s chartered Adams 10, Wazza Red Boat, led from go to whoa in Rating Division 3 and in Rating Division 4, Ray Roberts added yet another Race Week trophy to his impressive stockpile – Team Hollywood’s sixth win back-to-back.
David Ross’ well-sailed Cape 31 Kukukerchu took it to Roberts’ team but couldn’t knock the champions off, finishing in second place by two points in Rating Division 4.
Multihull Black Division top boat was Kevin Jones’ Queensland Schionning 1800 called Esprit and Mal Billings’ Perry 43, Twin Spirit, took out Multihull White top honours.
Hamilton Island divisions
Most of the Race Week fleet fall under the Hamilton Island Class umbrella and right across the five divisions, epic battles raged. Some of the top scorers include Phillip Neil’s picture-perfect Hoek Tc78 Drumfire (Blue Division), David Rose’s slippery Queensland Welbourn 42 Wedgetail (Pink Division) and Simon Oliver’s Pogo 36 Odyssey, winner of Hamilton Island Yellow Division.
Michael and Elizabeth Goss’ modified Snook design, Halcyon, successfully defended their trailable title.
“It’s been a tough week with pretty heavy sailing for these boats, but it’s such a beautiful place to sail,” said Michael.
“There were highlights like whales breaching within 20 feet of us, and looking behind and seeing the amazing multihulls,” added Elizabeth.
The boat-caravan trip will start in a few days for the Goss’, who have a long drive back to the NSW Central Coast. They are expecting the usual surprised looks and questions when they book into a caravan park and climb into their boat to sleep.
Final words from the regatta director
Regatta Director Denis Thompson has been part of Race Week since 2006. Over many years he has fine-tuned the race management and choice of amazing courses that are designed to give sailors the best day’s racing in the Whitsundays.
“Year-to-year it’s not a revolution, it’s an evolution,” said Thompson. “The team was 21 people this year, so a bit smaller than usual, and we were stretched in a couple of areas, but we were able to use island staff as muscle on the start boats.
“The breeze blessed us and while the last couple of days were heavier, most were able to handle it. We have courses to keep the small boats in flatwater and out of the main seaway and with the fleet getting more dynamic, we don’t have boats that struggle to windward anymore,” he finished.
By Lisa Ratcliff