Hamo Race Week cel­e­brat­ing 30 years

Whitsunday Times - - ON THE WATER -

THE 30th an­niver­sary of the Audi Hamil­ton Is­land Race Week was of­fi­cially opened on Fri­day night at the is­land’s iconic yacht club.

The Oatley fam­ily, who are also cel­e­brat­ing 10 years as the is­land’s own­ers, presided over the func­tion that wel­comed sailors from the cruis­ing yachts­man to rac­ing’s elite.

Min­gling among the crowd were Olympic stars Matt Belcher and Mal­com Page and Swiss bil­lion­aire Ernesto Bertarelli.

Well-known sail­ing author Rob Mun­dle spoke a lit­tle about the his­tory of the re­gatta, with which he has been in­volved in since its in­cep­tion in 1984.

In that year, Mun­dle joined Hamil­ton Is­land’s de­vel­oper Keith Wil­liams, Melbourne yachts­man Dave Hutchen and Amer­ica’s Cup skip­per Jack Stur­rock to set the pa­ram­e­ters for what would be­come one of Aus­tralia’s most pres­ti­gious an­nual sail­ing events.

The start to race week, then staged in April, was how­ever, any­thing but pres­ti­gious. Rain belted down on what was dubbed Hamil­ton Is­land Rain Week in the Wet-sun­days.

None­the­less, 93 yachts trav­elled from as far afield as Perth to take part in the event, which over the years has gone from strength to strength.

In 2006, Ger­man pre­mium car man­u­fac­tur­ers Audi took on spon­sor­ship of the re­gat- ta, ce­ment­ing its suc­cess.

Ever hum­ble, Bob Oatley ad­dressed Fri­day’s crowd to thank all those at the re­gatta’s core.

“It is cer­tainly recog­nised as Aus­tralia’s pre­mier big boat re­gatta and for this ac­co­lade, we are in­debted to you, the sailors, your fam­ily and friends, for your on­go­ing sup­port,” he said.

Mr Oatley then joined Audi man­ag­ing di­rec­tor An­drew Doyle and Queens­land tourism min­is­ter Jann Stuckey in a flag rais­ing cer­e­mony to of­fi­cially launch this year’s event. Rac­ing got un­der­way on Sun­day, Au­gust 18 and will fin­ish on Satur­day, Au­gust 24.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.hamil­ton­is­landrace­week.com.au.

FIRST FLEET: Hitch­hiker was one of the first fleet yachts that com­peted in the in­au­gu­ral 1984 Hmail­ton Is­land re­gatta and its own­ers have trucked it across Aus­tralia from Perth to be part of this year’s race week.

RACE READY: Vaughan Black­wood (son of Whit­sun­day his­to­rian Ray Black­wood), on the bow of lo­cal boat Bril­liant II at the start of the 2013 Audi Hamil­ton Is­land Race Week.

FA­MOUS FACE: One of the world’s rich­est men and two-time win­ner of the Amer­ica's Cup Ernesto Bertarell is char­ter­ing Wild Oats X for Hamil­ton Is­land Race Week. The Swiss bil­lion­aire is rac­ing the 66ft rac­ing yacht, which be­longs to Hamil­ton Is­land's owner Bob Oatley.

WEL­COME: Hamil­ton Is­land owner Bob Oatley of­fi­cially launched the 30th an­nual Hamil­ton Is­land Race Week at the is­land’s iconic yacht club on Fri­day night.

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