Hamo Race Week celebrating 30 years
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.