Cruising yachts to the fore…
As the planning for the 30th anniversary edition of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week continues to gain momentum, entries are already exceeding expectations.
On current projections the 50th entry will be received within the next two weeks, a milestone that will confirm enthusiasm for what is Australia’s premier big-boat regatta is at an all-time high. The series will be staged from August 17 to 24.
Not surprisingly, all of the near 40 entries received to date are cruising yachts – a fact that leaves no doubt Hamilton Island’s harbour will be the scene of some exceptional dockside parties across the week, and exciting racing around the islands of the tropical Whitsunday region.
Among the entries to date are some famous old yachts, like Dave Molloy’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week regular, the classic 24-metre long maxi, Condor; the classic 40-year-old, 22-metre long timber ketch, Sir Thomas Sopwith, which has been lovingly restored by the owners, Diana and David Edwards; and the 1983 Australian Admiral’s Cup team contender, Lloyds Too Impetuous, now owned by Rudy Weber.
Lloyds Too Impetuous, which missed winning the title of ‘Champion Yacht’ at the inaugural Hamilton Island Race Week in 1984 by just one point when owned by Graeme Lambert, is the first entry received for the ‘First Fleeters’ division at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week this year. This division has been specially created for any of the 90-plus yachts that were at the inaugural Race Week.
Another entry certain to be received shortly for the First Fleeters Division is Ian Hamilton’s Bruce Farr designed Farr 1104, Akarana, out of Townsville. Hamilton raced the same yacht at Race Week in 1984. He is working hard to get together as many of his original crew so they can share the fun and what promises to be a memorable reunion this year. Akarana was launched in 1977 and has carried Hamilton and his crew over tens of thousands of miles of cruising and racing since, including four Cairns to Port Moresby races and the 1991 Darwin to Ambon race. In the owner’s words, she’s won a ‘tea-chest full of trophies’ in her lifetime.
‘We’ve had to give the old girl a makeover and strengthen her over the years,’ said Ian Hamilton. ‘I’ve forgotten how many sets of new instruments and new sails I’ve bought for her, but I bet if you asked my wife she would know.
‘After about 20 years of service she was starting to rattle when she fell off waves because the steel frame inside the fibreglass hull was rusting and working loose. We replaced the frame with one made from laminated timber, and she’s been perfect ever since.’
Hamilton says a return to Hamilton Island for Race Week promises to be another highlight of his wonderful sailing experiences with Akarana: ‘I’m really looking forward to the camaraderie that will come with renewing old friendships and making new ones. However, when it comes to the racing, don’t expect us to be scooting around the course with the hot shots. Akarana has a very wide stern and becomes a trifle cantankerous when she’s overpowered – she tends to round up – so we will be taking it easy.’
Luxury carmaker, Audi, returns as the Title Sponsor of Hamilton Island Race Week in 2013. The German premium brand will host a range of special events on the island for yacht owners and guests to enjoy during the week.