Superheroes at Hamo

The event we’ve all been looking forward to, the Hamilton Island Race Week Prix d’Elegance, featured some frivolous and fantastic crew in costumes and boats dolled up for the fun.

Written by Lisa Ratcliff
Photography by Salty Dingo

26 August 2022


A cool blast from the south didn’t deter those wearing incredible costumes, from superheroes and lycra-clad red devils to meticulously presented matching crew uniforms, to win over the judges in the annual Hamilton Island Race Week Prix d’Elegance.

The unique ‘dress up for adults’ is an integral part of Race Week history. Winners in the Best Presented and Best Themed categories will be announced at Saturday 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.

The divisions starting day four of racing in Dent Passage were held back close to two hours until the winds abated from a gusty 31 down to the 25-knot mark. Those on the Eastern course started their first windward/leeward race on time.


The Cadillac, Peter Chappell’s “high-performance river boat that does ok in the ocean”, was trucked close to 5,000km one-way from Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club in Western Australia. They are holding second on IRC in Rating division 4 behind Ray Roberts’ Team Hollywood and first on the Super 40 results sheet.

The average age of the mostly Sharpie and Etchells sailors is 60, champion WA match racer Will Boulden the exception. Chappell commissioned the build of the Barrett 9.5 from a successful shorter Fred Barrett design.

“We had Fred blow the hull up, kick the bow up and flatten out the stern plus we added a deeper centreboard and profile rudder,” Chappell said. “The boat only weighs 1,170 kilos so it’s light and everyone hikes facing in using toe straps, like dinghy sailing.

“I couldn’t go back to something slow and boring after this. I figure if you can’t have fun, don’t do it!”

One of the standouts in the Prix d’Elegance Parade was Doug Ryan’s Beneteau 44.7 Shazam, sailing for Port Douglas Yacht Club. Each crew member dressed as a different superhero and the owner and skipper as Captain America. Ryan has seven women and five men aboard and “they’ve partaken in most of the Race Week social program,” he said.

Mixed teams, in terms of gender and age, are par for the course at Race Week. The “motley crew of pirates” on Rebecca Connor’s Beneteau Oceanis 473 Wonderland is another gender-balanced team. The day’s stronger breeze really suited the 15-ton boat.

Connor is a mum to six boys, aged between 10 and 27, and hubby is back in Newcastle looking after the three younger ones. Rebecca’s been with the boat for a month and after Race Week will head home to life commitments – including buying a commercial-size fridge with lockable doors to keep the teens out!

There’s a terrific battle going on for silver in the trailable yacht division, Stu Green’s Rhumb Runna three points clear then a pile-up with two races remaining.

Friday is the penultimate day of the Race Week and Australian Yachting Championship pointscores and the forecast is mostly sunny and SE 18-20 knots of breeze. The more than 2,000 sailors gathered in the Whitsundays have been blessed with ideal conditions for the 36th edition, and it appears the trade winds will hold until the closing day, Saturday 27 August.

Full results for all divisions racing at Hamilton Island Race Week available here.

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