The week began with strong south easterly breezes before a high pressure system descended over the racetrack, raising temperatures and forcing crews to seek alternate forms of on water entertainment including waterskiing, swimming, whale watching and spinnaker surfing while they waited for the north easters to roll in - and they did.
Starts were delayed and courses were altered for the last five days of racing but competitors took it in their stride and made the most of the lighter conditions to herald the regatta another huge success.
IRC Big Boat results were finalized on Friday however the overall handicap winner Steven DAVID's (AUS) Wild Joe (12 points) and Stephen AINSWORTH's (AUS) second placed Loki (14 points) still sailed yesterday's 19 mile course around the Molle Islands. Bob OATLEY's (AUS) third placed Wild Oats (22 points) suffered a mishap on the start line today and retired leaving Grant WHARINGTON's (AUS) Skandia to its final line honours win.
Sydney yachtsman Ray ROBERTS (AUS) and his crew finally put an end to the fight for the Hahn Premium Hamilton Island Race Week IRC Racing trophy, beating his nemesis Geoff BOETTCHER (AUS) and his Reichel/Pugh 46 Hardys Secret Mens Business from South Australia by just two points. Quantum Racing finished on 21 points, Secret Mens on 23 points and their sistership XLR8, owned by Ballarat based businessman Graeme TROON (AUS) and helmed by John SAVAGE (AUS), finished third on 31 points.
Steve KULMAR's (AUS) Shining Sea finished the regatta on 13 points, the clear overall winner in the Sydney 38 division. Guido BELGIORNO-NETTIS' (AUS) defending champion Transfusion, which also sailed a short race yesterday after finding themselves on the bricks off Dent Island, finished second in division on 24 points and Steve PROUD's (AUS) Swish finished third on 34 points.
The smaller boats dominated the Performance Handicap division, Guy and Clarke HOLBERT's (AUS) Rumbo leading the points' score following Tuesday's two windward-leewards and never giving away the advantage to finish first on 19 points. John MOORE's (AUS) Swarbrick 10.2 which was trucked 5,342 miles from Mandurah south of Perth finished second in division on 23 points ahead of CYCA Commodore Geoff LAVIS' (AUS) Inglis/Murray 50 UBS Wild Thing on 29 points.
In the Premier Cruising Class Graeme WOOD's (AUS) Sydney 47 Wotif.com overcame a bad start yesterday to hitch a ride on the stern wave of UBS Wild Thing on the winning downhill slide to the finish.
'We went out today with two clear goals, a clean start in clear air and we didn't manage either. Luckily we had a get out of gaol free card when UBS dragged us at least 100 metres on the run to the finish to put us in a great spot against Balance,' said WOOD, the founder of Wotif.com, yesterday afternoon.
WOOD sailed this regatta with a top crew including the legendary Ron JACOBS (AUS) and a number of rock stars from Bob STEEL's (AUS) former Quest, 'Who were boat less when my mine popped out of the mould,' said WOODS.
Paul CLITHEROE's (AUS) Balance (9 points), a sister ship to Wot's Next, finished second overall in the Premier Cruising class by three points and Laurence FREEDMAN's (AUS) Espresso Forte finished off the podium places in third on 19 points.
'We've been campaigning this boat for nine months and they've only had a month in the water, that's the difference. It was great having another Sydney 47 beside us, they really lifted us against the rest of the fleet,' added WOODS.
In the IRC Cruising Class, Ray HARRIS (AUS), with veteran Rolex Sydney Hobart yachtsman Michael SPIES (AUS) calling tactics, picked up his first Hahn Premium Hamilton Island Race Week win with his Beneteau 44.7 Honeysuckle. Results in this division also went down to the wire, Honeysuckle winning yesterday's final race to finish with a handy three point lead over Rod WILLS' (AUS) Greater Springfield (11 points) at closing time.
'We won it in the last race,' said HARRIS yesterday afternoon. 'We were the fastest boat out there today, the crew sailed the boat incredibly well.'
HARRIS has been sailing with some of his crew for the best part of eleven years and yesterday's win is a career highlight.
For more on the winners in Hamilton Island CLICK HERE.