Divisions debut

All fun despite spills and divisions at Hamilton Island Race Week.

Photography by Kurt Arrigo

24 August 2018


For day five of Race Week the weather gods decided that the break for the layday should mark a half-time change, with the wind spinning 180 degrees from the southeast to the northwest and the offering of a gentle breeze to soothe the brows of those who’d partied a bit too hard on Wednesday. 

For the inaugural Hamilton Island Divisions 2,3,4 and 5 this was new territory too, with an upwind start from Dent Passage; the result, an armada of yachts from all four divisions crossing tacks at slow speed, accompanied by the occasional polite hail of ‘starboard’. 

Sent off on a course to a laid mark off Condor Shoal, they completed a figure of eight around White Rock and Denman Island before setting kites for the home run to Dent Passage.

For most the course was scenic, enjoyable and uneventful, but the last stretch into Dent Passage caused some dramas, not least from a log jam of yachts that all reached the laid mark in Dent Passage a few hundred metres from the finish line, at the same time. 


In Hamilton Island division 4, owner of the Beneteau 44.7 Shazam Doug Ryan was feeling confident of a second spot in division until they reached the mark.

“In all the congestion around the mark someone on another boat fell overboard and the crew turned on the engine and tried to get back to collect him. It was chaos and we just watched our rivals slip away!”

For others the disappointing ending was brought about by the pressure of performance in front of a crowd, even for a crew with 15 ‘Hamos’ under their belts,

“After a great day of racing it all came undone when we gybed at the finish line, right in front of the yacht club.

It all went horribly wrong” said Mark Tobin, whose Sun Odyssey 44i C’est La Vie is nonetheless still leading Hamilton Island Division 5 by a handy 11 points.

In Hamilton Island Division 2, Kiwi Hamish Milne’s Beale 47 Moody Blue holds top spot after a day of light weather in which her crew had not expected to do well, 

“We don’t have the boat set up for racing” said navigator Angus Small “the self-tacking jib is fine in heavy weather but is no good in the light stuff and we also have a genset and washing machine on board. So we decided not to worry and went with 12 of us on board and a very full esky today. We were delighted that we still got seventh place.”

While the handicapper inevitably attracts plenty of critique from those who gain his attention by performing well at the start of the week, there appear to be plenty of plaudits for the new Hamilton Island Division from the crews involved.

“I’ve nothing but compliments for the race organisers” said Darryle Dransfield, owner of the Bavaria 41 That Boat which is leading Hamilton Island Division 4. “They’ve done a great job introducing this new division”.


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