RACE WEEK WRAPS UP
MOST Audi Hamilton Island Race Week regulars know the weather gods usually lull its fleet into a false sense of security.
For almost five years, day one has gifted crews a quiet introduction to the regatta – head out into Dent Passage, hoist your largest spinnaker and glide away.
But not in 2015. This year’s Race Week started on Sunday with a bang.
Class after class headed downwind at handsome speeds and more than a few crews in the IRC and Cruising divisions ran a very fine line between controlled speed and a major round-up, when boats ended up on the wrong side of the wind versus tide equation.
For the many sailors from the southern states who take a break from racing for much of the winter, Race Week’s day one conditions proved a rather rude awakening. But for one section of the fleet, maintaining control seemed deceptively effortless.
The 40 multihulls that make up two divisions of cruisers and racers at this year’s regatta are as varied as the crews that sail them; but whether a luxurious live-aboard or a wiry turbo-charged flyer, all multihulls share one trait not found on a monohull – life is lived on the level.
Be it racing at 20 knots or cruising at five, a multihull’s mast rarely passes twenty de- grees from the vertical, and that’s a large part of the appeal for many in the growing multihull community.
“They’re just a joy to sail,” said John Sticklan, skipper of Glenn Rutherford’s impressive Earthling as he worked on some minor winch maintenance after the first day’s 23 nautical mile Molle Islands race.
Meanwhile the ever-popular cruising divisions are once again forming the backbone of the Race Week fleet with 162 yachts of every size and vintage racing in seven divisions.
On the racing front, day two of Race Week gave all crews a little respite after the first day’s challenges.
While the IRC fleet sailed windward/leewards on the Eastern Course, the remaining divisions enjoyed sublime conditions, starting their races in an 8-12 knot south-easter from Dent Passage and winding around various deserted and inhabited islands.
Among the island hoppers was the 10-strong fleet in the inaugural trailables division.
From modern one design racers to modest and mature cruisers with a top speed rarely more than single figures, this fleet certainly fits the description eclectic.
By Tuesday, conditions were proving complicated, with light and shifty winds. Race Officer Denis Thompson set courses he hoped would use the tide gates, but that didn’t always work out and a few boats took half a dozen attempts to get through Fitzalan Passage in the afternoon.
Yesterday was the regatta lay day with racing resuming today.
AND THEY'RE OFF: Fleet racing during the 2015 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.