Fresh off the back of another successful Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, the island’s owners, the Oatley family, and CEO Glenn Bourke and his staff are already planning for next year’s 30th anniversary.
‘Certainly the 30th anniversary is a big milestone for Hamilton Island. I think the event has grown from tiny little roots to being quite grand,’ said Glenn Bourke after wrapping up the SB20 series on Saturday.
He believes the success of the premier Whitsunday regatta is due to the plethora of social activity, really great racing in a stunning location, and the camaraderie among the yacht crews.
A declaration by Yendys’ helmsman and America’s Cup sailor, Gavin Brady, that ‘The standard of racing [at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week] is higher than the Med Cup’ doesn’t hurt the event’s international reputation either.
‘Next year is poignant for a lot of people, particularly those who have been coming here for many many years,’ says Bourke, adding ‘we plan to make it a spectacular party’.
‘Another reason for the extra focus is next year marks a decade of the Oatley’s ownership of the island. I know they’re very keen to make it special for everyone.
‘We worked particularly hard to make the cruising guys feel more a part of the regatta this year and we’ll continue in that vein going forward to next year’s birthday celebrations. We’ve got a few other ideas to make them feel like they are really a part of the program.’
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week regatta director, Denis Thompson, believes next year’s 30th could attract over 200 boats, the sort of numbers the event was enjoying prior to the GFC.
To sweeten the deal, the island has already announced that the 163 boat owners who entered this year’s Race Week will automatically qualify for half entry fees for the 2013 regatta.
‘The island’s very generous offer of half price entry has been a real talking point,’ said Thompson.
He sees renewed growth in the cruising fleet, thanks partly to the initiatives the island has adopted to create more of a sense of community on G and F arms at Hamilton Island marina.
‘I think the camaraderie that developed over on those cruising jetties was phenomenal,’ said Thompson.
‘When we made changes to the racing program during Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, we had teams going down there handing out the changes of course. The sausage sizzle and free ice were also very well received.
‘There are some strong feelings among the cruisers about returning for next year’s anniversary Race Week,’ Thompson added.
Looking back at this year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, which came to a conclusion on Saturday August 25, Glenn Bourke says the feedback on the racing has been positive.
‘With the light air it was the complete opposite to last year. I think it’s good for yachties to experience contrasting regattas, nobody gets complacent like they may do at other venues where it’s always windy or it’s always light. It gives everybody an opportunity to get in the mix.’
Bourke acknowledged Denis Thompson and his race management team for running a seamless regatta, ‘organisationally I think the race management team is world class. We never seem to have any kerfuffles and the standard is always consistently high.
‘There’s always some tweaking to do, but in general I’m delighted we were able to put on a good show once again,’ Bourke added.
At Saturday evening’s trophy presentation Audi announced its sponsorship of Race Week, which began in 2006, will continue for another two years. Yachting Australia Vice President Matt Allen also announced during the prize giving that Audi will continue its support of the IRC Australian Championship for an additional two years.