En­tries hit 200

Mile­stone marked for Hamo Race Week

Whitsunday Times - - SPORT | ON THE WATER -

THE West­ern Aus­tralian TP52 class rac­ing yacht, M3, which ex­pe­ri­enced ad­ver­sity of its own, run­ning aground in early 2016 and nar­rowly es­cap­ing the scrap­yard, is not only the 200th en­try for Audi Hamil­ton Is­land Race Week but a wel­come mes­sage to the hard­work­ing team that their ef­forts are ap­pre­ci­ated by all com­peti­tors and guests.

M3 was caught in a huge storm dur­ing a de­liv­ery trip from Coffs Har­bour to Syd­ney and was washed ashore onto a beach south of Seal Rocks.

The re­mote lo­ca­tion meant there was no com­mer­cially vi­able way of sal­vaging the yacht – un­til NSW Na­tional Parks of­fi­cials stepped in.

The lo­ca­tion was part of a na­tional park so the yacht could not be cut up and taken to the clos­est dump.

In­stead, it had to be re­moved so there was no trace of it left be­hind.

An amaz­ing sal­vage ef­fort en­sued: a trench was dug in the sand so the yacht could be stood up­right, then both the keel and mast were re­moved.

The keel was then put on a truck and sent south while the mast was strapped to the yacht’s deck. Soon af­ter, when calm weather pre­vailed, a long line was at­tached to the bare hull so it could be dragged across the sand and towed offshore by a large work boat po­si­tioned be­yond the surf line.

Even­tu­ally, all the pieces came to­gether at a boat­yard and M3 lived to sail again – now at the 2017 Audi Hamil­ton Is­land Race Week for the first time.

The lodg­ing of the 200th en­try con­firms the pop­u­lar­ity the re­gatta holds with sailors na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. It is now an­tic­i­pated that the fi­nal fleet for the se­ries will be be­tween 225 and 230.

“I’m re­ally im­pressed by the sup­port for the re­gatta,” Re­gatta di­rec­tor De­nis Thomp­son said. “It ap­pears that the fi­nal fleet will be only 20 or so less than last year’s amaz­ing record of 252 en­tries.”

The fleet size also re­flects the con­fi­dence sailors have in the re­gatta, par­tic­u­larly in the wake of Cy­clone Deb­bie which dev­as­tated much of Hamil­ton Is­land in March.

Hamil­ton Is­land’s CEO, Olympic and world cham­pion sailor, Glenn Bourke, said the sup­port for Race Week would be seen as a huge “thank you” to the is­land’s 1200 staff.

“It goes with­out say­ing that our won­der­ful staff have gone above and be­yond the call of duty to make sure ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble is in readi­ness for Race Week. I’m sure the sailors and Race Week visi­tors will ap­pre­ci­ate their ef­forts as much as the is­land’s own­ers, the Oat­ley fam­ily, and I do.”

PHOTO: AN­DREA FRANCOLINI

AGAINST ALL ODDS: The TP52 rac­ing yacht, M3, is the 200th en­try to Hamil­ton Is­land Race Week.

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