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Hamilton Island RW: 30 mile match race for Supermaxis - Day 6

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz 24 Aug 2018 22:51 PDT 25 August 2018
Wild Oats XI broaches soon after the start - Hamilton Island Island Race Week - Day 6 © Richard Gladwell

At a media conference yesterday afternoon, Iain Percy, tactician aboard the supermaxi Black Jack, quipped that he was more used to sailing around marks than islands.

The double Olympic Gold medalist was referring to the issues with wind-shadows from the 74 islands that make up the Whitsunday group, many of which are used for course marks at the Hamilton Island Race Week.

Today's race started off in spectacular style off the Hamilton Island Yacht Club which is as much of a landmark in the Whitsundays, as the Opera House is on Sydney Harbour.

After a short sprint down Dent Passage the fleet rounded a palm tree encrusted point and headed south in a 12-15kt easterly breeze.

Wild Oats XI treated the spectators and media to a spectacular broach as she pushed it too hard with her Code Zero, and came unstuck - rounding up sharply across the bow of Alive, a Reichel Pugh 66, which was in close attendance, along with a pack of TP52's and the other supermaxi, Black Jack.

Fortunately no harm was done other than to Wild Oats XI's dignity, however she soon straightened up and set off for the next mark at Pentacost Island.

As the approached the tidal race, with broken white water off the departure point of Dent Island the first of the wind-shadows asked questions of the two lead supermaxis, as they were forced to thread their way through the gusts and calms and having to decide between an option that took them offshore with more distance, and maybe a better breeze - or stay inshore, buck the tide - and hope that the gap between the puffs would not be too great.

In the end Wild Oats XI picked the middle ground, with Iain Percy electing to stay on her hip aa they cleared Dent Island and headed for Baynham Island, the main rounding mark in the 28nm course. The windward leeward course passed to leeward of the towering Pentacost Island - and yet another windshadow.

While Wild Oats XI was first to emerge around the point of Baynham Island, it was very close with the Wild Oats XI having the downside of having to make the first call as the the approach to the island and traversing the windshadows. It was a path fraught with potholes in the breeze, complicated by the supermaxis having to tack furling and unfurling jibs and Code Zeroes, depending on the angle.

In the end Wild Oats XI too the risk of passing closer and was first to emerge after a few anxious moments, and headed for home with a lead of 50-100 metres and into an approaching rain squall.

Although the breeze had a funky-fit for a time, it didn't really change direction and strength varied only slightly. Then it was a relatively straight forward race through the lee of the Bishop's Mitre shaped Pentacost Island and home - this time pushed by the tide, which made for a fast trip.

Once past Pentacost there were no real passing lanes and Wild Oats XI took another line-honours win, with Black Jack a minute behind. That margin was sufficient for Black Jack to take the race on corrected time, with Wild Oats Xi second. Overall in Division 1, Marcus Blackmore's TP52 Hooligan won the Division with a day to spare, followed by Matt Allen's TP52 Ichi Ban, and with Duncan Hine's Reichel Pugh 66 Alive taking third in the division.

To see Adventure of a Sailor Girl, Nic Douglass' view of the race from on board Wild Oats XI (you can see her on-board perspective of the broach aboard Wild Oats XI about 9 minutes into the video).

For full results in all classes click here

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