by Rob Mundle
The 150th entry for this month’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, the famous 76-footer, Hammer, will renew one of Australia’s great ocean racing rivalries from two decades ago when she competes against the similar-sized yacht, Whitebirds, in the series.
Both yachts went head-to-head in many major ocean races, almost always staging great battles for line honours.
Between 1988 and 1998 each yacht took line honours on four occasions in the 308 nautical mile Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race. However, Hammer was never able to better Whitebirds’ (originally Bobsled) race record time, which stood for nine years.
Both yachts were built in aluminium to designs from Victorian Kel Steinman. Hammer, owned by Arthur Bloore, was known as Hammer of Queensland, while Whitebirds was launched as Bobsled for Sydneysiders Geoff Bush and Nick Feros.
That rivalry will resume in the Cruising Division at the 30th Audi Hamilton Island Race Week – which will be staged from August 17 to 24 – when the two yachts go head-to-head. Hammer has been chartered for the regatta by a group of 10 sailors led by Gerry McGann and representing Perth’s Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, while Whitebirds, owned by Alan Bird, will be very much in her element as she has been converted to a comfortable cruising yacht.
Hammer and another famous maxi yacht from a bygone era, the 73-footer Condor, will be competing at Race Week under the banner of the Whitsunday-based charter organisation, Prosail. Condor, a two-time line honours winner in the Sydney Hobart race, and winner of the famous Fastnet race out of England, will be returning to Audi Hamilton Island Race Week under charter for the sixth consecutive year.
Condor (Image - Andrea Francolini) lr
Prosail owner, Dave Molloy, has advised that there are still five crew spaces available aboard Hammer for anyone looking to compete at Race Week.
Luxury carmaker, Audi, returns as the title sponsor of Hamilton Island Race Week in 2013.
The Notice of Race, including the entry form, are posted on the regatta website – www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au