Family affair

As the fleet nears 200 entries, one family is eager to swap the chilly waters of Lake Burley Griffin for the tropical climes of this year's Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

Photography by Andrea Francolini

18 July 2017


The chilly waters of Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin are a fading thought for Danielle Hutcheson as she prepares to enjoy the tropical warmth that will come at the 34th staging of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week next month, 19 to 26 August.

Danielle learned to sail on the lake as a 10-year-old, but now, 19 years later, her priority is to be enjoying the tropical winter warmth that is experienced at Race Week on an annual basis.

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is also part of an adventure that brings the entire Hutcheson family together.


While Danielle will be racing the Sydney 32, Onyx, in the racer-cruiser division, her parents, Dave and Helen Hutcheson, will be competing in the multihull cruising class with their Seawind 11.6 catamaran, Tropical Sunset. That crew will also include two of Danielle’s uncles.

“This is my third consecutive Race Week,” Danielle declared enthusiastically, “and it won’t be my last. I’m amazed by how this regatta goes to the extreme and offers everything there is to be enjoyed about sailing – deserted islands, warm tradewinds, great courses and an amazingly vibrant onshore atmosphere. But for me, sailor that I am, the most exciting thing about being at Hamilton Island comes when you are among a mass of boats in a spinnaker start in Dent Passage, just off the yacht club.”

Danielle’s parents moved the family to the Gold Coast 12 years ago, and soon after she was sailing on a regular basis out of Southport Yacht Club. She has been racing Onyx offshore since her father purchased it two years ago, but her enthusiasm for offshore racing has gone beyond that.

Last Easter she competed in her first 308-nautical mile Brisbane to Gladstone race and was subsequently named the recipient of the “Women in Yachting” award for her role in the crew of the yacht, Turbulence.

Come Boxing Day this year she will achieve another goal in the sport by competing in her first Rolex Sydney Hobart race as a member of the crew of the Beneteau 40, Blunderbus.

The two Hutcheson family yachts will depart the Gold Coast  6 Augustand cruise in company to Hamilton Island over the following 10 days.

With Onyx being devoid of almost all creature comforts, Tropical Sunset will become the “Mother Ship” for the two crews when at anchor each night.

During Race Week, Onyx will be helmed Matt Owen, the man who taught Danielle to sail in Canberra. Her role will be “pulling the strings” in the cockpit, but she’s hoping she will get the occasional chance to steer.

The number of yachts entered for this year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is expected to go beyond 200 within the next 10 days. The regatta will be staged from 19 to 26 August.

German luxury carmaker, Audi, is returning for the 12th year as principal sponsor, demonstrating the brand’s continued commitment to high quality, competitive offshore racing and a benchmark onshore social calendar that is as inclusive as it is exclusive.

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