Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2013 will be remembered as one for the light air specialists. All states of Australia plus the ACT and many overseas countries were represented among the 157 entries and near 2,000 sailors who made the pilgrimage to the Whitsundays to be part of 30 years of yachting history.
Audi Hamilton Island Race week 2013
In 1984 Hamilton Island was significantly less developed, the boats a lot beamier and men’s shorts much briefer. Three decades later the island is a world-class destination but the people at Race Week are essentially the same, and the spirit of competition that arose in the inaugural year lives on.
IRC Passage Division
Peter Hewson’s Storage King Wallop is this afternoon celebrating with his crew at Hamilton Island Yacht Club, the Lake Macquarie sailor finishing at the top of the Passage Division 1 results pile.
Hewson, a former 505 Australian champion, and his Lake crew, which included Keith Jensen, the father of Olympic 49er gold medallist Ian Jensen, went into today’s curtain closer just one point adrift of Paul Clitheroe’s Beneteau 45 from Sydney called Balance.
The well-known financial commentator and his crew finished sixth in today’s light air against Storage King Wallop’s second place, the position Hewson needed to ease into the top spot. It was close, just 11 seconds the difference between second and third in today’s deciding island race.
Our game plan came together,' said Hewson as the corks were popping off the champagne.
The 15 year-old Sydney 41 design is having a good year, taking out the Australian PHS Championship title and Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta on PHS back in January.
Paul Clitheroe was delighted with second overall, 'Eleven tons of Beneteau in no wind…. second is a miracle and we are very happy,' said the grinning skipper this afternoon as crews celebrated before tonight’s official trophy presentation.
Andy Kearnan’s Summit 35, L’Altra Donna from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia was sitting out in front in IRC Passage division 2 by a comfortable eight point margin from Matt Owen’s Local Hero going into the final race. The gap tightened to four points on the final progressive scoresheet but Kearnan held firm on first overall and will tonight collect some extra baggage of the silver variety to take back to Sydney.
Local Hero was second and Howard Piggott’s Beneteau F40 Flying Cloud third in division.
Performance Racing results
Philip Grove’s Sydney 39Cr Huntress had Matt Allen and Walter Lewin’s Farr 400 Ichi Ban as its yardstick in Performance Racing division 1. The pair continued the on-water battle that swung in Huntress’ favour at Airlie Beach Race Week last week.
It came down to today’s final race to settle the score and again, things tipped Grove’s way.
His crew boss Chris Townsend explained, 'We had led all week except for one day. It’s been hard work chipping away trying to keep ourselves out of trouble. The essential thing was to go out and sail as hard as we could every day and not worry about the handicap, that would sort itself out.
'We were plugging away in the middle of the point score while others were moving back and forth either side of us.
'We got the double; we beat Ichi Ban here and at Airlie Beach.'The question was asked, 'Must be a nice feeling?' and the response came, 'I don’t think they [Ichi Ban] like it too much,' he joked.
Allen, divisional winner last year, was gracious. 'The great thing about the regatta was the tight finish. The Melges 32 Mac 2 did a great job today in light airs and if we’d been a minute faster against them we would have won the whole regatta. It’s a great credit to the scoring and handicapping.
'Huntress sailed really consistently and like us, the light air regatta suited. Unfortunately the bigger heavier boats didn’t get a run this week.'
Allen also paid tribute to the hard working race management team led by regatta director Denis Thompson. 'The race committee did a sensational job. It was the toughest Race Week I’ve seen and it was hard yakka for those guys.'
Performance Racing 2 honours went to local boat, Jump, owned by Dennis Winstanley, a builder on Hamilton Island. A margin of half a point was all that separated Jump from Sarah and Piers’ new Tasmanian Elliott 7, Rum to Paradise.
Greg Hyde, a former Olympic (1984) and world champion windsurfer who has suffered serious health issues, including a stroke, skippered the SB20 along with Mark Long then Winstanley’s partner, Hannah Gardener, who was on the bow for the final race.
Hyde needed to be lifted by the crew from side to side as the boat tacked and gybed, but when it came to picking wind shifts he needed no assistance.
'Greg is my childhood hero and mate of 30 years,' said Winstanley tonight. 'He was an absolute freak in his day on the windsurfer and was well-known on the offshore scene, including being part of two Sydney Hobart overall winning campaigns.
'We had lots of experience on board for this Race Week. We picked good lanes to sail in and we had a great week with plenty of sunshine.'
Conditions were fickle yet again, a high pressure system that has been parked over the area all week stubbornly hanging in. At the scheduled eastern start this morning the sou’easter gradually wafted left which brought the postponement flag out until a light easterly settled in and the light went green.
Full results for all 12 divisions at Audi Hamiliton Race Week