Today's Hamilton Island Hahn Premium Race Week's 15 nautical mile Whitehaven Race provided exhilarating on-water action and an opportunity for yachts and crews to test their mettle with some thrilling heavy weather sailing.
In the pre-start, Principal Race Officer Arthur HODGE recorded 32 knots gusts from the sou'east, and there was some discussion amongst the race committee on delaying the start, but they let the IRC, PHS and Sydney 38s fleets go at the scheduled times.
Soon after, the breeze settled in at 25 knots, then eased back to around 18-20 knots, although the sea conditions remained uncomfortable.
Steven DAVID'S Wild Joe
hit the pin of the line at speed, getting a handy jump on the bigger boats, but before long, the 60-footer resumed her position behind Neville CRICHTON'S Alfa Romeo
and Bob OATLEY'S Wild Oats
and this is how they crossed the finish line off the beautiful Whitehaven Beach.
With a full main up, CRICHTON showed little restraint in the pressure with the boat recording downwind speeds of 28 knots. The only drama on board the 98-foot super maxi came when a spinnaker halyard shredded and melted in the winch, eventually having to be cut away.
Given the rain squalls, lumpy seas and strong breezes, there was little drama around the 15 mile course.
For the first time since the regatta began last Saturday, a new boat entered the top three IRC results. Gerard O'ROURKE'S brand new Cookson 50 Chieftain
, sailing in its first regatta, pushed Wild Joe
out of the IRC podium placings in today's race with a third place behind Alfa Romeo
and Wild Oats
Bought in New Zealand and sailed straight to Hamilton Island for Race Week, O'ROURKE has consistently campaigned his Irish entry this week, comfortably beating sistership Living Doll
, another brand new Cookson 50 from New Zealand, around the track. Following this regatta, Chieftain
will be sailed to Sydney then shipped back to Ireland.
In the PHS results, Stuart BANCROFT'S London Calling
made its first appearance at the top of the leader board while Jeff MITCHELL'S Cavalier Express
recorded its fourth second place finish in its division to be leading the PHS progressive results. Following a first and second in division in yesterday's windward/leeward races, Tony FOWLER'S Ocean Skins
finished with another second on handicap today.
The most action came at the finish of the Sydney 38 division with a number of spectacular broaches thanks to the gusting breeze which had swung more to the east and was bulleting up to 22 knots by the time the smaller boats were approaching the finish line off Whitehaven Beach.
Wayne KIRKPATRICK'S Asylum
and Martin and Lisa HILL'S Estate Master
provided an exciting display of wild broaching, unluckily for them right in front of the large flotilla of boats anchored off Whitehaven for the XXXX Whitehaven Beach Fun Day. They came away smiling however, with Martin HILL, who is celebrating his birthday today, giving his fellow yachties a wave as they clapped in appreciation.
Stephen KULMAR'S Shining Sea
was today's best placed Sydney 38 with Guido BELGIORNO-NETTIS' Transfusion
still leading the pointscore following a second over the line.
The Cruising fleets are enjoying a lay day today but many have taken the opportunity to join the racing fleets at Whitehaven Beach.
Tomorrow the IRC, Sydney 38 and PHS fleets will contest the 30 mile Baynham Island Race while the Cruising divisions will complete a 20 mile race.