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Hamilton Island Race Week: What a difference a year makes - Day 2

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz 19 Aug 08:25 PDT 19 August 2019
Wild Oats X crew clean up after a quick sail change as a wind shift hits - Day 2 - Hamilton Island Race Week, August 19, © Richard Gladwell

A year ago, we were out chasing two supermaxis as they match raced around Baynham Island - one of the outermost of the 75 islands in the Whitsunday Group.

This time a year ago the two supermaxis, Wild Oats XI and Black Jack ducked and dived through the shifts and squalls with frequent lead changes.

Unfortunately in 2019, a super-maxi rematch is not possible as both are undergoing major boat surgery.

Today at Hamilton Island Race Week, the biggest regatta in the southern hemisphere, was as described in the Whitsunday brochures - clear blue sky merging with the aqua coloured sea. Green scrub-covered islands rearing up from the sea, often fringed with white sand beaches and surrounded by the clearest of water.

It was the best that this Mediterranean of the South Pacific can offer.

Why would anyone chose to be at work, and miss sailing one days like today, and a venue such as the Whitsundays?

The five boat IRC division 1 fleet sailed a 22nm course which was essentially a windward and return from a laid start line well offshore, around Baynham Island returning to the finish off the Hamilton Island Yacht Club in Dent Passage.

Like yesterday's opening race in the series, today's course was a tour of the Whitsunday's that only sailors can enjoy. While the first race in the series was sailed in gentle breezes, today the boats were more powered up as the 40-66fters were able to stretch out on the long downwind legs.

But always the conditions asked many questions of the navigators and tacticians along with the crew's ability to react quickly to shifts and pressure as the breeze passed between towering rocks and islands.

Line honours winner Wild Oats X showed the speed of change as they were hit by a sudden shift seemingly in clear water and well away from any landmass, and had to react quickly to drop her asymmetric reaching sail and get onto a single headsail - all while not even losing a knot of boatspeed, and holding her line.

Of course, those following has the shift and pressure change signaled to them and were much better prepared.

The other two IRC divisions sailed a shorter but similar course around the towering Pentecost and then rounding a couple of smaller islands and heading for the finish in Dent Passage

As with yesterday, the Reichel Pugh 66fter Wild Oats X led the five boat IRC Division 1 home by a margin of almost 10 minutes, ahead of 62ft Judel Vrolijk design Chinese Whisper and the 63ft Reichel Pugh design No Limit. Overall the TP52 Hooligan still leads from Chinese Whisper, with today's corrected time winner the TP52 Zen in third overall.

Ray Roberts and crew in Team Hollywood the low profile Botin 40 had another good day with a win on both elapsed and corrected time to lead the seven boat fleet in IRC Division 2. The 42fter Not a Diamond was one of three boats to finish inside a 51second margin for second place on the water, off Hamilton Island YC. However Not a Diamond lifted to second overall again on corrected time and holds second on the overnight leaderboard.

In IRC Division 3 Malcolm Roe and Andrew Banks again took line honours in their Swan45 Amazing Grace, with the modified Farr 40, Ponyo second two minutes back. Overall, Eagle Rock a First 47.7 leads from Ikon (Beneteau First 45) and Highly Sprung (Beneteau First 45).

SE breezes set to crack in for the rest of the week. Tomorrow the wind is predicted to gust to 35kts according to one reliable source, and up to 30kts according to the Race Office.

For full results click here

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