Yachting: Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

Close to 2,000 sailors arrived for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week this year and they contested a remarkable 15 different divisions. Read to find out more.

Jan 25, 2018 | By Yacht Style

Passage racing in the spectacular Whitsunday Islands, a popular access area for the Great Barrier Reef

Contenders at the recent Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race took a back seat at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, largest regatta in the southern hemisphere, as Prince Frederick of Denmark claimed IRC honours in his chartered Reichel-Pugh 66 Nanoq, which we are told is Inuit for Polar Bear.

The sailing prince, whose Tasmanian wife Princess Mary stayed at home in Copenhagen to look after their four children, has a very competitive Farr 40 of the same name, and has helmed TP52s before, but this Nanoq, aka Hamilton Island co-owner Sandy Oatley’s Wild Oats X, left a small fleet of very famous yachts in her wake.

Prince Frederick helming the chartered Nanoq aka Wild Oats X to victory in the premier IRC Division

“I’ve never steered such a big boat”, he said. “The first day was pretty wild, one of my top three ever. But I think I improved over the week. A win like this is a big thing for me”.

He paid tribute to a “brilliant crew”, which included this year’s America’s Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray as navigator. Four years ago, Swiss America’s Cup winner Ernesto Bertarelli arrived at Hamilton Island Race Week with his Alinghi crew, and took the IRC trophy in this same chartered yacht.

Prince Frederick said he would be back to defend his 2017 title next year. He met wife Mary Donaldson, as she was then, at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. His dad Prince Henrik, like Frederick also an accomplished Dragon sailor, chartered three times in the Phuket King’s Cup in that event’s early years, introduced by Hong Kong Dragons supremos Lowell and Phyllis Chang.

Only four points behind the Prince on handicap was a Reichel-Pugh 66 sister ship, Philip Turner’s Alive, which represented the Derwent Sailing Squadron in Hobart, Tasmania. In fact she tied with Brent Fowler’s West Australian TP52 M3, but the latter was relegated to third on a countback.

Fancied Rolex Sydney-Hobart chance, the Oatley family’s 100-footer Wild Oats X1, skippered by Mark Richards, took line honours in four of the six starts, but could not overtake the front-runners. Nor could another 100-foot Super Maxi, Peter Harburg’s Black Jack, which is the former Alpha Romeo. She too had a star line-up, including Team Oracle USA’s AC tactician Tom Slingsby.

Matt Brooks’ lovely S&S52 Dorade which was visiting from the United States, placing 2nd to Ray “Hollywood” Roberts in Passage Division 2

Pitted against them  on 26 December will be Hong Kong’s Karl Kwok, who has a choice of two finely-tuned Beau Geste raceboats currently in Australian waters, sailing with his long-time Kiwi skipper Gavin Brady. Kwok last won the Sydney-Hobart in 1997.

Close to 2,000 sailors arrived for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week this year, and they contested a remarkable 15 different divisions.

Space precludes giving full results, but one skipper well-known in Asian waters, Ray “Hollywood” Roberts, won IRC Passage Division 2 in a chartered Sydney 38 called Team Hollywood, from the lovely American yacht Dorade, Matt Brooks’ elegant S&S 52.

Words by Bruce Maxwell | Image courtesy of Andrea Francolini

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