17 August 2018
Hamilton Island Race Week’s second largest fleet since inauguration has 233 boat crews itching to get off the dock and into forecast tradewinds, at least for the first three days of the annual Whitsunday series, August 18 – 25.
Regatta director Denis Thompson expects 10-14 knot sou’east tradewinds on Sunday will strengthen into Monday, possibly 20 up to 25 knots, then it’s likely winds will ease.
To reach the second highest fleet size Thompson accepted two late entries, one from an owner who did everything to get his boat to Hamilton Island bar remembering to submit his entry paperwork and the second from crew part-way into a world cruise who decided to join the action.
“It’s a tribute to the team of organisers who work all year to ensure the series remains a world-class event. Our challenge is to deliver the best racing you can have under sail, and the best social agenda imaginable”, said Hamilton Island’s CEO, Olympic and world champion yachtsman, Glenn Bourke.
“You only need to look at the quality of the fleet this year and the fact that the event will bring more than 2000 sailors, their families and friends to the Hamilton Island, to realise it is a formula that works.”
Two of the leading contenders in Division 1 are Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race winner Matt Allen with his Botin-designed TP52 Ichi Ban, and Marcus Blackmore, racing his new TP52 Hooligan.
There will also be an interesting tussle in IRC Division 2 between two of the exciting new Fast 40+ class yachts: Daryl Hodgkinson’s recently imported Victoire and Ray Roberts’ Team Hollywood.
Ichi Ban won the IRC Passage series during Airlie Beach Week by seven seconds over Hooligan to claim the series from the latter by three points. Team Hollywood placed third.
The sparring session between the two largest in the fleet, 100-foot supermaxis Wild Oats XI and Black Jack will go another round as the pair make their Rolex Sydney Hobart intentions clear.
Almost half the total number of entrants make up the popular Hamilton Island Class designed for cruiser/racer yachts.
“The cruising fleet has been quite dynamic at Airlie Beach across a range of conditions this week and a few are well-tuned for Hamilton Island,” Thompson commented.
Regatta director Denis Thompson said it was pleasing to note how cruising yacht owners were embracing the new Hamilton Island Class.
“This category is designed to create a more equitable competition for cruising yachts, and it is already obvious competitors are realising that,” Thompson said.