Today saw the running of the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week Club Marine Classic Long Race and the Lindeman Island race. It was a bright and early start this morning, with the aim to bring most of the fleet ashore in time for this afternoon’s Olympic sailing team welcome home and tickertape parade.
The parade will begin at 5.30pm when the medallists are driven along Front Street at Hamilton Island in Audi A5 Cabriolets.
In an 8-10 knot south easterly breeze and lumpy seas off Catseye Beach at Hamilton Island, Performance Racing division 2 then 1 led off the start line and waves of IRC starters followed them, beginning with the smallest and working up to the Audi IRC Australian Championship Class A boats.
The 63 nautical mile Club Marine Long Race for IRC Class A and B and supermulthulls is the longest of the annual week-long Whitsunday series and it will take some well into late afternoon before they record a finish off Hamilton Island Yacht Club.
As anticipated, the Mark Richards skippered Wild Oats XI stole the line honours show once again.
In the two-boat trimaran wrestle, Team Vodafone and Team Australia came into Dent Passage together, the Australian skipper Sean Langman out-manoeuvring Kiwi Simon Hull in the dying stages to finish three boat lengths ahead after 60 nautical miles.
Tom Slingsby, London gold medallist calling tactics aboard Peter Harburg’s Queensland 66-footer Black Jack, is fortunate he’s on the second largest yacht in the Class A fleet given he has to be back in time for this afternoon’s parade.
He’ll join sailing gold medallists Mathew Belcher, Malcolm Page and Iain Jensen and silver medallists Olivia Price, Lucinda Whitty and Nina Curtis plus Australian Sailing Team coaches and officials.
To the delight of the photographers Slingsby took the wheel of Black Jack in the pre-start this morning, and shot a smile to the cameras. Unbeknownst to him, the rest of the crew were smiling too, watching triple Olympian Anthony Nossiter chuckling as he bowed behind Slingsby in honour of the great man.
Colin Pruden’s Swarbrick S111, Sandpiper Wutba, flying the Whitsunday Sailing Club burgee, was one of the early finishers in the 23 nautical mile Lindeman Island race for the three cruising and non-spinnaker divisions, which started from the eastern course area.
The Lindeman Island Race is usually the regatta opener however light winds forced a change of plan last Saturday.
Sandpiper’s crew saw a top wind speed of 15 knots on the dial and recorded 10 knots of boat speed, numbers that were solid enough to give them a non-spinnaker line honours win.
Crewman Clayton Willox said ‘today was great. The pressure was perfect and we sailed like we stole it.
‘Darryle Dransfield’s That Boat was our biggest competition today and we were always within 100 metres of each other.
‘It’s our fourth Race Week and we’re really enjoying it.’
After seven races, Hamilton Island’s CEO is not in unfamiliar territory. Glenn Bourke is a multiple world championship winning sailor and he’s mastered the SB20 class just like he dominated the Laser.
Bourke is leading the pointscore by two points with Club Marine from Phillip Gray’s Dulon Polish in the warm up to the class’ world championship, which will be held at Hamilton Island in December.
Tomorrow all classes will remain ashore for the one and only layday for the 163 yachts and crews contesting the 39th edition of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. A day’s rest at the mid-way point is well deserved and will give sailors a chance to catch up on boat maintenance and domestic duties as well as spending time with family and friends who have travelled to be part of Race Week.
Highlights of the layday include a Sailor’s Forum starting at 9.30am on the main stage, the Audi Final Drive Challenge from 8am – 6pm, the Beachside Pool Party from 12pm and the famous Moet & Chandon lunch.
Luxury carmaker, Audi, returns as the title sponsor of Hamilton Island Race Week in 2012. The German premium brand will host a range of special events on the island for yacht owners and guests to enjoy during the week.