by Rob Mundle
One of the first entries for the new superyacht power classification at this year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, a radical 25 metre long catamaran, is nearing completion on the Gold Coast.
Radical catamaran under construction on Gold Coast for Hamilton Island Race Week
The sleek, futuristically styled vessel is being built for a legend of the hairdressing industry in Australia, and six-time Australian offshore powerboat racing champion, Stefan Ackerie. However, at Hamilton Island, instead of piloting his offshore racer at around 120 knots he will be guiding his new boat at a far more sedate 20 knots.
This is the first year that power superyachts have been part of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week – Australia’s largest offshore keelboat yacht regatta – and Ackerie is determined to share in the amazing atmosphere that will exist around the superyacht competition and the regatta in general. The series will be staged from 19-27 August.
More than 200 sailboats, ranging from sports boats and casual cruising yachts through to Grand Prix level racers, are expected to take part. A sailing superyacht division was successfully introduced last year and will also be included this year.
Ackerie’s gleaming new silver and white vessel, which is certain to be a ‘head turner’, will be launched within two months. Once extensive sea trials are completed off the Gold Coast it will head north to the Whitsundays and Hamilton Island.
‘I think it is fantastic that a power superyacht division has been established for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week,’ Ackerie said. ‘We definitely want to be part of the on-water scene and social activities that make this regatta so famous.’
Hamilton Island chairman, Sandy Oatley, welcomed the news that Ackerie’s new vessel would be an added attraction at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. He said that the long term plan for superyacht competition at the island was for these amazing boats to have a regatta separate to Race Week.
‘Hamilton Island is well recognised as Australia’s premier destination for a wide range of aquatic activities,’ Sandy Oatley said. ‘As this recognition spreads even further, nationally and internationally, so too will our fleets. We envisage that in the years ahead Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and a week of superyacht competition will go back-to-back, but right now the fact that we can combine the two makes Race Week an even better regatta for everyone.’
Ackerie’s boat, built from carbon fibre and Kevlar composite materials with an end-grain balsa core, will weigh only 23 tonnes when launched. This light displacement, combined with the slender and easily driven hulls, means that the twin 450hp diesel engines will deliver a maximum speed of 23 knots and a cruising speed of 17 knots. The original design by Bob Oram was 22 metres (72ft) overall, however the vessel’s builder, Duncan Van Woerden, lengthened the hulls and has made impressive changes to the styling from bow to stern, inside and out.
While the sailing superyachts at Race Week will compete over conventional courses the power yachts classification will experience a unique competition that has been developed over the past two years. Instead of being a race as such, it will be a test of the skill of the crew and also include activities where guests on board can participate and contribute to the pointscore. Full details of the competition will be announced shortly, but it is certain to include a novel on-the-water test suggested by Australian America’s Cup legend, Sir James Hardy.
Internationally, superyachts are classified as being a minimum of 24.38 metres (80ft) overall. It is expected that organisers of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week will use the same figure as a guide for this year’s event.
Entries are now open for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2011. The Notice of Race, including the entry form, has been posted on the regatta website here
Hamilton Island Race Week’s naming rights sponsor, luxury car maker Audi, is Australia’s largest corporate sponsor of yachting.