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Sports stars join Hamilton Island Race Week 2023

by Lisa Ratcliff / HIRW media 24 Aug 2023 03:09 PDT 19-26 August 2022
Trade winds continue to bless the fleet - Hamilton Island Race Week 2023 © Salty Dingo

Sporting superstars came together at Hamilton Island Race Week today with the Matilda's Kyah Simon taking time out following the FIFA Women's World Cup to learn the fundamentals of a very different sport, from sailing's best.

While Simon and other newcomers watched on for day four of racing, yesterday's lay day haze was well and truly blown away - 20 plus knots of Whitsunday trade winds pushing the close to 2,000 sailors back into competition mode, whether they were ready or not.

David Doherty's Matador is dominating Rating Division 2, made up of TP52s. An almost clean sheet has them nine points clear of Bill Barry-Cotter's Maritimo, which is a substantial lead in a contest of 'like' boats.

"The boat's going ok. We've got the same crew nucleus and it's all coming together," Doherty said, also acknowledging, "the Virago boys pushed us today".

Rod Johannessen's Queensland Beneteau First 40.7 Drake's Prayer was first back to the dock today, carrying a sail tear which cut their race short.

"It was only half a metre tear, but in those conditions it can get much worse quickly," Johannessen said.

By the afternoon the North Sails loft team had made the repair and Drake's Prayer will be back on the water tomorrow.

Prix d' Élegance

Drake's Prayer, part of Hamilton Island Orange division, added 80s rock nostalgia to the procession of boats exiting Hamilton Island harbour this morning for the annual Prix dÉlegance parade. Their costumes were a tribute to Bon Jovi's smash hit 'Living on a Prayer', the lyrics ''we're halfway there'' relevant to yesterday's midway point of the week, and the all-important pointscore.

There are multiple serious contenders for the most sought-after non-racing trophies at Race Week - for best presented and best themed yacht and crew. The Prix dÉlegance results are now under wraps until Saturday night's gala trophy presentation to mark the series' close.

Rating Class Division

Navigator Jason Thorne of the Airlie Beach based Adams 10 Wazza Red Boat - as in 'was a red boat', which it was last year then it was painted white - is delighted with their Rating Class division 3 lead and how they performed today in conditions, that weren't optimal for the design.

"The boat isn't suited to sprint racing and today we had two windward-leewards in the open ocean. We were a little boat in a bumpy sea," said Thorne.

"We are just a bunch of mates from Cronulla; most of the guys are J24 sailors and I'm usually a simple grinder on the TP52 Smuggler."

There are two days of racing to go and those at the top of their divisional ladders are strategising on who they need to beat and by how much, to secure a slice of the silverware.

Weatherman Kenn Batt is forecasting that the south-easterly trade winds will delight sailors until the finale of the 38th edition of the popular Queensland regatta, on Saturday 26 August.

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