The Great Barrier Reef Yacht Club, which is currently being built on Hamilton Island, is set to become a major international boating destination, says club commodore Iain Murray. He believes that the new club will attract an unprecedented number of high level racing events from around the world.
‘We are open to all sorts of major championships. We certainly believe that the waters and conditions of Hamilton Island are suitable for holding World championships in most classes of boats. We already have a substantial part of the Australian Sailing Team training up there because of the very good conditions for running high quality sailing.’
‘We’d like to expand on that to hold World championships, National championships. The water’s there; we just have to provide the facilities and the infrastructure to do that and that’s work in progress.’
Murray commented that the Clubhouse and associated development, which includes a number of new villas and extension of the existing marina, should be completed by the end of 2008.
‘It’s not the easiest place in the world to build. Obviously it’s an island and sourcing all the materials and getting them to the island is a much slower process that just building in metropolitan Sydney. It’s a lot more complex, with all the services having to be dealt with on the island- sewer, water, electricity.’
The Walter Barda designed clubhouse has a sweeping, undulating multi faceted roof line which has been likened to a manta ray in flight. It is a bold, memorable and very sculptural piece of architecture which is likely to spark intense public debate. People will either love it or hate it: it’s that sort of building.
Murray describes the Clubhouse building as an ‘architectural statement.’
‘The marine gateway to the island is such that this landmark building will signify the entrance to Hamilton Island.’
He said that the design of the club house, which will include business and recreational facilities and conference and function rooms, reflected their concern for the island’s natural environment.
‘A great deal of thought has gone into the buildings to be environmentally friendly.’
‘Certainly the rain water harvesting and collection: we’ve put 450,000 litres of water storage tanks under the property. We have been very careful in our glass selection, the orientation of the roofs, the overhangs and bits and pieces to minimise air conditioning.’
The new development is a joint venture between Hamilton Island owners the Oatley family and Murray. He predicts that the completion of the clubhouse and sailing facilities, along with the opening of the highly rated Qualia resort, will see a new level of international interest in the island.
‘The island, particularly with Qualia, which is a six star resort by any standard, will certainly have international appeal. With Dent Island and the championship golf course taking shape across the passage, it’s going to have an international appeal.’
Qualia will have 60 individual pavilions, some with plunge pools, and promises to be the stuff of holiday dreams with beautiful views, furnishings and fine dining. The resort was apparently named after a derivation of a Latin word meaning ‘a truly sensorial experience.’
There’s even a two bedroom beach house which boasts a private pool and separate quarters for staff/security: perfect for visiting Hollywood types who want to unwind in seclusion. If you’ve been living the city life at a fairly frantic pace, nothing puts you to sleep faster than the sound of waves on a beach.
Along with Audi’s sponsorship of the event, the development on the island looks set to have a significant impact on Race Week.
‘Race Week’s the biggest week on Hamilton Island. It’s obviously a very important part of Hamilton Island, particularly for the Oatleys, being such a strong sailing family. And their desire is to maintain and make that better every year; from both a racing point of view, from a family enjoyment point of view…’
‘Certainly they have a very strong commitment to doing that. There’s a number of initiatives that have been undertaken this year. And I’m sure that there will be more next year, and the year after, and the year after, to make it a must do thing for the boating community.’
‘All over the island, the facilities of the island are being upgraded everywhere to make it a more enjoyable week for everyone involved.’
Visiting the island will become more boating friendly with the planned introduction of automated fuel pumps. We spoke to Hamilton Island manager Brett Spice about the proposed changes.
‘The new fuel wharf is in advanced stages of re-development as well. There’s some good plans to upgrade the fuel wharf with automated systems: basically credit card swipe machines and an unmanned facility. If you’ve got a credit card you can swipe it through the machine then fuel will be available to you.’
The existing marina has 205 berths and can accommodate boats up to 45m. With the planned expansion they should be able to manage boats up to 50m in the future. Wireless internet access is available and the jetty sells both diesel and unleaded fuel.
‘The arm that’s immediately in front of that yacht club will be reconstructed to suit some of the larger sailing and motor superyachts. We’re looking at putting in about four berths there to house 100 foot or better yachts. The likes of Wild Oats, the Oatley’s boats, will be sitting there right in front of their pride and joy, the Great Barrier Reef Yacht Club….’
Deepwater access at the marina is approx is 4.5m LAT. ‘…It’s recognised by the Oatley family that there is a need for a dredging programme. - so that minimum depth will increase.’
The Hamilton Island Boatyard is located near the marina. It has a 65 tonne travel lift and offers a range of services including antifouling, electrical and refrigeration, mechanics and shipwrights. So you can work done on your boat while you explore the many activities the island has to offer. These include sea kayak tours of the islands, charter flights, and world class fishing.
The marina can be contacted on VHF Channel 68 or telephone (07) 4946 8353 or 0414 475 928 mobile. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org