The stage is set for the last day’s racing at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and while it’s another light air day, at 0830hrs the race committee was planning to start on time from Dent Passage for the Molles Islands Race for all divisions other than the SB20s, which finished yesterday.
With some of the divisions so close this diver was out this morning rubbing down boats and removing growth that might make even the slightest difference to performance.
A notice went out to competitors a short while ago advising that the race committee intended to start on time, ‘but watch for postponements and later shortening courses,’ said regatta director Denis Thompson.
At 0900hrs the AP flag was indeed flying, signalling a postponement. Reports from the water indicated while Hamilton Island Yacht Club is clear, the western side of the channel was under thick rolling fog meaning the race committee didn’t have a clear line of sight to the other end of the start line.
There was also a mother and calf whale right near the start line, adding another challenge.
By 0930hrs the AP flag had come down and competition was underway in a 4-5 knot southerly, the mist coming and going as boats disappeared in a northerly direction to North Molle Island.
The phenomenon of fog for the latter part of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week has had some yachties likening it to Cowes Week regatta, which is staged off the Isle of Wight in the English Channel.
Unlike the vagaries of the Solent River however, the conundrum is only a recent thing at Race Week in the Whitsundays with historians who have been involved for decades believing this year and last are the only two in 29 years when heavy fog has been thrown into the mix of weather.
At the time the first division was due to start, the non-spinnaker division, Dent Passage was blanketed in thick fog, making visibility poor as boats ghosted around with crews not able to see much past 300 metres ahead.
Humidity in the high 80’s combined with warm temperatures overnight fit perfectly with the predicted forecast of 5-10 knot variable winds and calm seas.
Regatta forecaster Kenn Batt says, ‘wind speed will be anyone’s guess, but most likely in the 7-10kn average range with 1-2 knots added this afternoon courtesy of a weak sea breeze component.
Similar to the past few days, there are questions marks attached to the forecast.
The Audi IRC Australian Championship Class A boats are racing today for a special Gary Ticehurst memorial trophy named after the ABC helicopter pilot who was tragically killed last year in a flying accident. Gary was well known among the sailing community from the decades he spent covering the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, just one of the highlights of his brilliant flying and media career.
There are no changes to results in IRC Class A and B, and while Victoire, which ended up in mediation with Hooligan yesterday afternoon, has the Audi IRC Australian Championship Class B series in the bag they have decided to race today for fun.
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week website