Final day fling

As the last day of competition dawns at Hamilton Island Race Week, an overcast and eerie Saturday, crews gathered on the marina to prepare for one last bite at the cherry at this year’s regatta.

Written by Jeni Bone

27 August 2022


Nowhere near as fresh as the biting breeze this morning, crew members streamed onto the marina ahead of the final day of racing at 2022 Hamilton Island Race Week.

Aboard Stefan, the rainbow-hue-hulled Botin 80, (the former Beau Geste), Grant Warrington and Adrian Seiffert prepare their crew of 18 for the final foray.

Part of the crew since the Brisbane to Hamilton Island Yacht Race in early August, Lisa Seiffert, Adrian’s daughter and a model living in the US, is ecstatic to be home after three years’ absence.

“The travel restrictions were hard,” she said. “I was living in New York, alone, away from all my family. I locked myself in my Brooklyn apartment with my dog, Atlas. I wrote a script, so I was very productive. But there’s nothing like coming home.


“I did the Brisbane to Hamilton Island Race and got addicted. There’s something very special about being miles offshore out of sight of land, seeing whales and dolphins and racing north. The rush you get when you finish is addictive.”

Grant Warrington, who co-owns Stefan with three others – Adrian, Paul Hayes and Doug Sallis – said the week has been nothing short of “exhilarating”.

“This week has been all about learning about the boat,” he commented. “We’ve owned it for two years, but haven’t been able to race. We crossed the line 4th in last year’s Sydney Hobart, but Race Week has been a testing ground for the boat.

“She really rips reaching and upwind, but is not so good downwind, so we’re working on mods to make the boat better.”

Central to plans is the increase in size from 80 to 100 feet, scheduled for early 2023 at Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard.

“We’re going to add 4-metres to the bow and 2-metres to the transom. We’ll be talking to Steve [Ackerie] about continuing the relationship. He loves the program and it’s great for us – a pink boat really stands out.”

Next door on the marina, the crew of Hamilton Island Wild Oats XI is making last minute repairs and assembling crew. Mark “Ricko” Richards said the regatta is going “very smoothly”.

Ricko has been part of every Race Week since the first in 1984 and said this year’s is particularly satisfying. “It’s good to be back. The racing has been awesome.”

Waiting for their ride in the appropriately named support vessel, “The UTE” to ferry them out to Andoo Comanche, the yacht’s team is optimistic of taking home the silverware in Division 0.

John “Woody” Winning said, although he would hate to put a hex on things, he’s pretty confident. “We’re sailing very well and we’d have to really stuff up not to win”.

“We’ve got a good crew, a good mix of people who’ve sailed aboard Comanche for many years, from Spain, France and Ireland, and a lot of locals who have taken very well to the boat.”

Hamilton Island Race Week is a favourite regatta for Woody and his family, including son, John “Herman” Winning who has chartered Comanche for the next two years with the aim of winning races and promoting the family’s lifestyle furniture brand, Andoo.

“We haven’t been for a few years, but it’s always good to come to Hamo,” said Woody. “It’s a lot warmer than Sydney!”

Post-Race Week, Woody revealed they plan to remove the keel and check it over ahead of a busy spring-summer season of racing, starting with Cabbage Tree Race, twilight racing for friends and guests, and the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

John “Herman” Winning said he was hoping to get some interest from other 100-footers in a race from the east coast to Auckland.

“It’s a great opportunity to head over to New Zealand for the Millennium Cup,” he said, “We would use it as publicity for Andoo New Zealand – a branding exercise.”

Over the week, several high profile sailors have participated in racing or as VIP guests aboard, including Mat Belcher on board Ichi Ban and, fresh from ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix, driver and CEO of the Australian team, Tom Slingsby on Andoo Comanche.

Michael Spies, skipper of Maritimo, is downing his last coffee before setting off. “We’re very happy with our results this week,” he stated.

“We’ve had a good time, raced well, but not well enough to win. We haven’t spent enough time on water.”

Spies, who has sailed the Sydney Hobart 43 times, has his sights set on winning their division in Maritimo. “We came second in our division last year, so this year we’re aiming for first. The only way is up.”

Back in the Yacht Club, Rob Mundle, a Race Week stalwart and close friend of event founder, Keith Williams, is enjoying being a spectator this edition.

“The conditions have been fabulous for sailing – it’s a shame the weather hasn’t been warmer – but the people have been wonderful, the Oatley family are so welcoming and this place – well, Hamilton Island is as close to paradise as you can get.”

Mundle’s skills were called on to commentate during the on-water fun and frivolity of Thursday morning’s Prix d’Elegance, where crews decked themselves and their yachts in all manner of themed costumes in an effort to win the major prize of two nights’ accommodation for two people at the luxurious, 6-star Qualia Resort.

The unique ‘dress up for adults’ has been an integral part of Race Week since 2007. Winners in the Best Presented and Best Themed categories will be announced at this evening’s end-of-series prizegiving when placegetters in 16 divisions plus the Australian Yachting Championship will be celebrated by organisers and their sailing peers.

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