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Sailing in Paradise: Four of the 252 yachts that were part of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2016 enjoy close racing on the Whitsunday Passage Andrea Francolini http://www.afrancolini.com/
Sailing in Paradise: Four of the 252 yachts that were part of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2016 enjoy close racing on the Whitsunday Passage Andrea Francolini http://www.afrancolini.com/

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2017

Entries for the 34th edition of Australia’s premier offshore regatta, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, are surging in on the back of the Notice of Race being posted on the regatta website.

Seventeen yachts have already been nominated for the spectacular series which is scheduled for August 19 to 26.

Most eager of all entrants to date was Sydney sailor David Bell. He “jumped the gun” with the entry for his Bavaria 49, Four Bells. He lodged his entry within days of the completion of the 2016 regatta by making his application on that event’s entry form.

“I did it for two reasons,” said David. “We had so much fun last year that I wanted to commit as soon as possible, and by doing so my wife couldn’t have any thoughts about wanting to travel overseas this year. Instead we’ll be back to sailing in paradise.

“It’s the tropical venue, the island itself and the fact that you are part of an enormous fleet of yachts that makes Audi Hamilton Island Race Week so special.”

Amazingly, when the NoR was posted on the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2017 website, two yachts entered within an hour. First was the 11.6m long racing catamaran, XL2, owned by Mike Peberdy, from Brisbane. This year’s regatta will be the first big test for the yacht since a refit which took 12 months to complete. XL2 was one of the fastest multihulls in Sydney in her heyday some 20 years ago.

The second entry came from Sandy Hume, who races his Catalina 320, Windfalls, out of Parramatta River Sailing Club in Sydney. He’s taking three months’ long service leave from his job so he can compete in his first Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

“After hearing so much about Race Week for so long I decided I just had to do it this year,” Sandy said. “We’re going to cruise up from Sydney, enjoy the regatta, then cruise home.”

While the Notice of Race was being prepared by Race Director, Denis Thompson, regatta organisers were busy planning an exciting new party and social agenda which will ensure the highly acclaimed series retains its reputation as one of the best regattas in the a world.

It is a commonly held belief that the setting for Race Week cannot be bettered: award-winning Hamilton Island sits as the centrepiece among 68 uninhabited tropical islands, and the magnificent Great Barrier Reef is on the horizon. The majority of the courses for racing weave their way around many of these islands, and the predominant breeze is a south-east tradewind.

Last year’s Race Week was unmatched on every front: the fleet of 252 was 25 more than the previous record set in 2008, and every one of the many and widely varying social events was a sell-out.

Denis Thompson has again planned for the nine racing categories to cover the full spectrum of competing yachts. The divisions are:

• IRC Racing Class
• IRC Passage Class
• Racer/Cruiser Performance Handicap System
• One Design Classes Scratch (No Handicaps)
• Cruising Class Performance Handicap System
• Non-Spinnaker Class Performance Handicap System
• Trailable Yachts Class Performance Handicap System
• Multihull Racing Class Offshore Multihull Rule
• Multihull Cruising Class Performance Handicap System

While the IRC class yachts deliver much of the on-water glamour, there is no doubt cruising yachts will again make up the majority of the fleet. Last year there were 37 entries in the non-spinnaker cruising category and 98 in the general cruising division.

Race Week 2016 also saw a record 48 cruising and racing multihulls competing. It is anticipated that multihull numbers will be considerably higher this year.

Two team events, one national and the other international, are also being proposed for this year. Any number of state teams comprising two yachts – one IRC and the other from IRC Passage – can compete for the Hitchhiker Trophy, while international teams will be racing for the impressive South Pacific Trophy.

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.

All information relating to AHIRW is on the regatta website.

by Rob Mundle

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