Saving the best until last at Hamilton Island race Week
THE best of winter sailing in the Whitsundays capped off racing at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.
Bucket loads of sunshine and puffy 18-20 knots of south to south-easterly trade winds farewelled the fleet from Dent Passage for the final time this series.
Keeping it fresh, the race committee offered crews a navigator’s choice for the deciding race.
At Sidney Island off Lindeman Island, IRC divisions 1 and 2 opted to head for home either via Dent or Hamilton Island, while the remaining divisions made the same choice at Isolated Rock.
A full spectrum of conditions over six days created opportunities to climb, and slip down the pecking order.
Gear and crew were challenged in various wind ranges between 7-10kts and shortened courses on day one Sunday (August 17) to double that last Saturday.
Karl Kwok’s all-conquering TP52 Team Beau Geste cleaned up another major Australian regatta and title.
The TP52 has been campaigned on the Australian East Coast for the past two years and raked in the spoils – the TP52 Southern Cross Cup and the Audi IRC Australian Championship.
“We had persistent winds this week, no matter how strong or weak there were no car parks,” Kwok said.
“The first day we ran aground due to a miscalculation. After that we got better each day, we rounded off all our rough edges.”
Beau Geste will now head to Hong Kong for the South East Asian circuit.
Phil Turner’s RP66 Alive finished second by four points, among the big boat division. In IRC division 2, Stephen Barlow’s Farr 40 Forty had enough credits to stay on dry land while the rest of the division fought for the minor placings in today’s 22nm race island course.
“We were going to race today, luckily we didn’t need to as we were half sinking when we came ashore,” Barlow said.
“We are surprised how we finished given the quality of the IRC competition at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.”
Eagle Rock finished second followed by Geoff Boettcher’s Secret Mens Business.
The IRC division 3 winner was Local Hero, who led the pointscore from the outset.
Four wins from six races was impressive for the almost two decade old boat.
Benetau 40.7 Schouten Passage, campaigned by the Howard family, finished second ahead of Andy Kearnan’s L’Altra Donna.
The crew on Leslie Green’s MC38 Ginger celebrated winning the class’ Australian championship last Saturday.
John Bacon’s Dark Star finished with a bullet in Saturday’s passage race, and held off class newcomer Hooligan to claim second.
Hamilton Island Chief Executive Officer Glenn Bourke praised this year’s event.
“We had a great diversity in conditions from the beginning to the end of the week – there was something for everyone,” he said.
“The best breeze in years mixed with the entertainment on offer and the opportunity to catch up with old sailing friends really made the week.”
RACE WEEK: Wild Oats XI in action during the final day of this year's Audi Hamilton Island Week. Photo Andrea Francolini/AUDI.
THREE'S COMPANY: Schouten Passage (Newcastle), Not A Diamond (Brisbane) and Audere (Hobart) of IRC division 3