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Barton Marine 2019 728x90

A gentle introduction to Hamilton Island Race Week 2019

by Richard Gladwell 18 Aug 08:49 PDT 19 August 2019
Beau Geste MOD70 - Day 1 - Hamilton Island Race Week - August 18, 2019 © Richard Gladwell

The 234 entries in Hamilton Island International Race Week, had a very pleasant introduction to the 36th edition, with a tour of the Whitsunday Islands conducted in bright sunshine, and light winds.

Entries range from Karl Kwok's MOD70 trimaran to trailer sailers and multihulls of all sizes and aspirations. This year's regatta is the 36th edition and has attracted the second-largest fleet in its history.

Absent are the supermaxis which provided a fascinating match race last years with some top international crews participating. Both Wild Oats XI (Sydney) and Black Jack (Queensland) are in the builder's shed for more than cosmetic surgery ahead of this years Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

Apparently also absent are the warm blooded leviathans for which these waters are famous. Only one whale was spotted from the media boat today, as it made its way south.

Three IRC divisions are racing with a total of 26 entries.

Line honours in Division 1 went to the Mark Richard's skippered Wild Oats X - the 66ft Reichel Pugh design owned by the Oatley family, which was sailed by a female crew into a very creditable second overall in the 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

The Division 1 crews sailed a 26.9nm course, starting downwind in the Dent Passage and heading north for a short time before rounding Dent Island and heading south in a S-SW headwind which was pleasant if not powerful.

Four times America's Cup winner, Mattie Mason (NZL) told Sail-World: "It had been a long day, but we were happy to be able to get amongst it in the light - we are a little underpowered in those conditions - with the canting keel [not being required for righting moment]."

"We had a bad run home after we got on the wrong side of a tidal split on the downwind leg."

"Overall it was a good day and beautiful sailing out there."

"It will be light again tomorrow, and with more breeze later in the week."

Although Wild Oats was first to finish, almost five minutes ahead of JV 62 Chinese Whisper (David Griffith), it was the Sydney based TP52, Hooligan (Markus Blackmore) which had a narrow 11sec on corrected time from Chinese Whisper with Wild Oats X in third.

Team Hollywood (Ray Roberts) had a great day scoring line honours and corrected time double in IRC Division 2 sailing over a shorter 23.5nm course.

Bushranger (Gerry Hatton) won IRC Division 3 by 1m 24secs on corrected time from Eagle Rock (Ross Wilson). It was a tight race amongst the 14 starters, with Bushranger finishing 41 secs behind line honours winner, Amazing Grace (Andrew Banks/Malcolm Roe) and 59secs ahead of Ponyo (David Currie).

The weather prognosis for the rest of the week is controlled by a weakening high pressure zone over New Zealand which will be pushed away by freshening SE Trades on Tuesday and Wednesday as a trough of low pressure moves over central and northern Queensland waters.

The forecast from race management has it that Monday will remain light starting at 4-8kts and increasing to 10kts in the afternoon.

Tuesday is set to pack a wallop with winds of 20-30kts before giving way to 15-25kts SE in the afternoon.

Wednesday, nominally a day off for the fleet, is predicted to stay at 15-22kts, easing to 12-16kts.

Exciting times are ahead!

For full results click here

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