Patrick Bollen 13 articles
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Hamilton Island Race Week

  • Posted by Patrick Bollen
  • September 7, 2011 9:39 PM AEST

G’day everyone and welcome to yachting, AUSTRALIAN yachting that is. 

This is what I suspect will be the first of many reports keeping you all abreast of what is happening in the world of Aussie sailing. 

I have just returned from Bob Oatley’s island, Hamilton Island in the magical Whitsunday’s off the coast of tropic North Queensland, just one of 74 beautiful islands that stretch over 60 nautical miles from mainland city of Mackay in the south to Hayman Island in the north.

Having spent many years working as a skipper on private and commercial vessels both sail and power I have been fortunate to have experienced the best and rarely the worst of what this beautiful stretch of water can dish up. 

The 2011 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week was sailed in some of the fiercest weather the area has been dealt in it’s 28 year history. 

195 boats made up an impressive fleet for the annual regatta, the biggest offshore sailing event in the country. This fleet included two new categories, the spritely SB3’s of which there were 13 starters and 6 Melges 32’s. 

What a spectacular class! The Melges 32 is an exciting, very quick and classy boat. Some say this is the class for the old blokes who are over ocean racing. Perhaps, but I reckon you’d have to be fit to stay with this level of yacht racing. Maybe they meant the class for the retiring 18 footer skiff sailors. 

The Melges 32 showed many a sailor at Race Week just what competitive fun is all about. It’s one design racing at it’s best. 

There were only 6 entrants, the regatta won by Noel Leigh Smith in DESPERADO from Sydney’s Stephen Girdis’ FUNNEL WEB and the USA’s Angus Reed in MAXSTAR. Just three points seperating the front runners in a ten race program. What a great series. 

The Melges 32 Worlds will be staged at Hamilton Island in 2012. 

The SB3 fleet also raced a keenly fought series with island CEO and former Olympic and World Laser Champion Glenn Bourke easily wining the series with an outstanding 7 wins in a twelve race program from Brett Cooper and Matt Belcher. 

The regatta series was sailed in some pretty hefty conditions with winter trades gusting at time to 40 knots. For much of the week winds stayed constant at 25 knots. The weather was cool and wet to say the least. 

In the IRC Div A Marcus Blackmore’s TP52 HOOLIGAN outshone all comers with an impressive points tally of 3 to beat the fancied LOKI [ Stephen Ainsworth ] an RP 63 who finished on 6 points while Michael Hiatt’s LIVING DOLL from Victoria finished 1 point away in third place. 

“ It was a great series. Everything went our way. It was a hard and relentless regatta but we came home with the goods,” said crew boss Terry Wetton. 

The social activities were spectacular especially the pool party around the resort pool which featured the amazing Lisa Hunt and her band from Byron Bay, Forever Soul.

 “ Shame we missed that. We were under strict instructions from the boss,” said Wetton. 

IRC Div B was easily won by Dr. Darryl Hodgkinson and his team aboard the Beneteau 45, VICTOIRE and former world eighteen footer champion Peter Sorensen won IRC Div C with his Sydney 36CR, The Philosophers Club. 

Sorensen finished second overall in division  astern of Canberra yacht LOCAL HERO but his race week performance ensured an Australian IRC Championship victory.

 This win earned him his third AUDI series wins in four years. A mighty fine effort indeed. That’s 3 Audi motor cars for his efforts. Pretty good sailing don’t you think? 

In other classes Eddie Earl won Performance Racing Div 1 with ISHSTAR from Ross Wilson’s EAGLE ROCK. Muir Winches John and Ross Muir won Cruising Div 1 with their Jeanneau 49, MUIR and Peter Maitz won Cruising Div 2 with LEANARDO. 

In all the 28th Audi HIRW was a cracka week, one that will long be remembered as one of the windiest and one of the best in the events 28 years. 

If you missed it, you missed out. Betta think seriously about joining the fray in 2012. Cheers for now. Tenpin