A fresh and cool SSE breeze under clear skies powered the record number of yachts in Audi Hamilton Island Race Week’s 14 divisions from the start line in Dent Passage northward yesterday, with most divisions charging off on the 15 nautical mile Molles Islands race.
With winds forecast to exceed 20 knots, the Trailables were sent on a short course twice around Henning Island and the smaller cruising yachts went westward to White Rock and back.
In Cruising Multihulls Division One, John Williams’ Catana 431, Tyee III hadn’t finished lower than third all week until Saturday’s eighth place, but still ended the regatta in top spot.
I put it down to my son Pete,” said Williams, adding that the on board team spirit also helped, “the highlight of this week for me has been the camaraderie of our crew.
Marc Gerard’s Chamberlin 14 Storm Bay took the gun on the line for the final races in fresh breeze and moved up to second spot for the series in conditions that tested their gear.
“We saw 21.8 knots of boat speed on the instruments at one point,” said Gerard “and we blew out a spinnaker tape on the downwind leg. But the upwind finish into Dent Passage was great; we were tacking boat-for-boat with Kestrel the whole way in and just pipped her on the line.”
David Davenport’s Montebello 12.5 Misty Sea took out third in division.
In Multihull Cruising Div Two, which comprises 14 Seawind catamarans, Brett Kimmorley’s Seawind 1250 Renaissance started the week in top spot, but fought back strongly from a midweek low to take the series win with a fifth place on the last day.
Kevin Lord’s Seawind 1000 Overture needed to claim victory and have Renaissance finish sixth in the last race, but fell just short.
“It was an out-and-back today so we didn’t get much chance to make up places,” said Lord “but we clocked up 17.2 knots boat speed with a screecher and a full main set, and we’ve never done that before. It was on the edge but in control.
“It’s been brilliant having the full Seawind family here for Race Week and the whole event’s a credit to the team.”
Michael Meehan’s Play On jumped from sixth to third with a win on the last day, Saturday 27 August, just nudging out William Dicker’s Miz Behavin from second spot on equal points by a countback.
Amongst the Trailables the locals stole the show with the Hamilton Island based Boomeroo 22 Rhumbmaid – whose joint owners call themselves collectively ‘It’s A Team Effort’ – winning their division by four points.
“We know the waters on that course around Henning Island, but they sent us around the opposite way from normal,” said Harper post-race. “It was pretty windy and we saw 26 knots apparent at one stage. Mind you, we broke the boat’s speed record today; 8.4 knots, up from 8.3!” the skipper added with a wide grin.
Shannan Hart’s Ross 7.8 High Tide from Airlie Beach wasn’t able to topple Rhumbmaid from top spot, tying with her for fourth on the day, but taking second place for the series. The Farr 750, Gone Too Farr from NSW, owned by Greg Brown who sails the boat two-up with his wife Ronda, battled the unfamiliar conditions to finish third for the week.
“We sail on Sussex Inlet and we don’t get tides and swell at all, but we did our best and it was fun having four of us sitting mid-fleet enjoying our own race within a race for much of the week.”
In the four spinnaker-flying Cruising Divisions the honours went to Andrew McGrath’s Silver Lining (Div One), Brendon Gregg’s Quest 3 (Div Two), Chris and Lauren Thorpe’s Miss Minx (Div Three) and John Brand’s Star Ferry (Div Four).
In the Non-Spinnaker Division One Michael Waldie’s Buizen 48 Breakaway won the series, while Mel Bridges’ Samurai won Division Two.
Last words from the PRO
“It was a game of two halves,” said Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson in summing up Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2016.
“Overall it’s been good sailing for a big fleet. The cruising boats are sailing really well; they used to be much less dynamic, now they are well-built modern designs and production boats. The trailer yachts handled the heavy weather sensibly, and the entire fleet of owners made sensible decisions based on the conditions.”
“Someone once said ‘sailors are a bit like goldfish, they only remember their last race!’. It’s good to finish on a high note, sunny skies and good fresh breeze. They’ll forget the slow, rainy days and be exited for next year.”
by Crosbie Lorimer