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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.

Photo: An­drea Fran­col­ini

AND THEY'RE OFF: Fleet rac­ing dur­ing the 2015 Audi Hamil­ton Is­land Race Week.

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