Supermaxi Luxury Yacht & Superyacht News

Video: 35m Claasen sailing yacht FIREFLY racing in Superyacht Cup Palma 2014

September 02, 2014

This year’s Superyacht Cup Palma, which was hosted at the end of June by the fabulous Mallorca yacht charter destination, nestled in Spain, was an amazing event for all who participated. A total number of five Claasen vessels attended the 2014 race, including charter yacht Atalante, Hearbeat, Lionheart, Drumfire and superyacht Firefly. Below is a video showing the outstanding 35-metre sailing yacht Firefly while competing in the Superyacht Cup Palma 2014, released by Claasen Shipyards.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014 to start today

September 01, 2014

An international fleet of 35 Maxi yachts have reached the fabulous Sardinia yacht charter destination – Porto Cervo for one of the sailing calendar’s great annual occasions. This year marks the 25th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, a competition sponsored by Rolex since 1985 and organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) as well as the International Maxi Association (IMA). The event represents a meeting of elegance, power and speed. Weeklong racing will kick off today, on Monday, September 1, 2014.

Dockside preparations at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda - Photo credit to Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Dockside preparations at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda - Photo credit to Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Riveting racing

Three-time runner up sailing yacht Alegre starts off as one of the favourites. Andres Soriano’s 2013 launch will be expected to use last year’s strong showing to good measure. Soriano’s former Alegre, now Swiss Alex Schaerer’s luxury yacht Caol Ila R, is one of four other boats in the championship reserved for racing Mini Maxis. 2012 champion Bella Mente yacht and Artemis/George Sakellaris’s sailing yacht Shockwave both represent the United States while Sir Peter Ogden, from the United Kingdom, will be expected to mount a serious challenge with his latest version of Jethou.“One day out, it looks like it’s going to be a terrific week,” explains Principal Race Officer Peter Craig. “We’re going to see plenty of breeze during the first three days of racing. What makes this regatta stand out is the boats, the crews. For big boat racing it doesn’t get any better. I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world that people talk about that is better sailing.”

Skippers Briefing at the YCCS clubhouse - Photo credit to Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Skippers Briefing at the YCCS clubhouse - Photo credit to Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

In terms of tight competition, the spotlight will shine brightly on the fifth running of the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. At the outset of the week the most pressing question on the sunkissed docks of the YCCS is how Niklas Zennström’s Rán 5 will perform on its championship debut. Rán’s crew has a strong Porto Cervo pedigree, Zennström is the defending champion and with his former yacht Rán 2 won the competition three times. However, in a competition defined by marginal gains she will need to adapt to the challenging environment seamlessly. Curiously, Zennström will come face to face with the boat he helmed to three world titles, now a key rival in the hands of Italian Roberto Tomasini Grinover and renamed Robertissima III. The clash between Zennström’s new and old boat will be an intriguing one.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup Event Map - Photo credit to Rolex/KPMS

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup Event Map - Photo credit to Rolex/KPMS

Style and power

Elegance will be provided by the J-Class. At 43,7m (143ft) superyacht Lionheart – a replica of the original 1930s design – is the largest boat in attendance. Competition will be provided by superyacht Rainbow, charter yacht Ranger, charter yacht Shamrock V and defending champion luxury yacht Velsheda. Boats which weigh in excess of 170 tonnes and possess a sail area close to 1,000m2 require expert handling. Style and top quality racing is always provided by the Wally class which features nine boats including both defending champion – Jean-Charles Decaux’s 80-ft super yacht J-One – and two Wally Centos in Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s superyacht Magic Carpet Cubed and Thomas Bscher’s Open Season. Pursuers of power will be impressed by the Supermaxis, imperious goliaths measuring upwards of 100-ft. The 2014 title is up for grabs with three-time winner luxury yacht Nilaya not in attendance. Three contrasting designs –  superyacht Firefly, Inoui and charter yacht Viriella lock horns. Lord Irvine Laidlaw’s Wally 82.8m hybrid yacht Highland Fling, competing in Maxi Racing, will be among the fastest boats on show.

Coastal races through La Maddalena archipelago are forecast for today’s first day of competition. The long wait is now over, the compelling verdicts will be delivered on the water throughout the week.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014 to kick off this week

August 26, 2014

A collection of some of the world’s best, fastest and most famous Maxi yachts will be hosted by the fabulous Sardinia yacht charter destination – Porto Cervo for the 25th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup from 31 August – 6 September. The event will mark the 30th year of the relationship between event organizers Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and title sponsor Rolex.

Maxi fleet during 2013 event - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Maxi fleet during 2013 event - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

What’s new this year?

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup always welcomes new, cutting edge designs for whom the ultimate proving ground is the event’s myriad of challenging and rocky racecourses. Last year the eye-catching launch was Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’s Wally Cento superyacht Magic Carpet 3. In 2014 another highly successful businessman passionate about sailing arrives in Porto Cervo with a new build. Niklas Zennström recently launched the Mini Maxi Rán 5 and seeks to continue his impressive run of success at the competition.

Mini Maxi yachts BELLA MENTE and STIG - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Mini Maxi yachts BELLA MENTE and STIG - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Where is the tightest competition forecast?

The appearance of Rán 5 will add intrigue to an already mouth-watering Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. The class is continuing to grow, not only in numbers but in quality, as rivalries intensify. Zennström won three of the four championships to date with his former sailing yacht Ran 2, now competing as Robertissima III and helmed by Italian Roberto Tomasini Grinover. Hap Fauth’s United States entry luxury yacht Bella Mente is the only other boat to have won the title and will seek to better last year’s fourth place finish when poor performance in the longer coastal races cost her a podium place. Andres Soriano’s sailing yacht Alegre finished second last year in the boat’s debut at the event. Denied by mere seconds in 2013, a year on and with greater confidence in their boat’s potential, Alegre will be one of the favourites. Completing the roster are some great boats and experienced crews: Sir Peter Ogden’s Rán 5 will come face to face with Sir Peter Ogden’s latest iteration of Jethou and United States entries sailing yacht Caol Ila R and luxury yacht Shockwave, class winner at the recent Copa del Rey.

J Class superyacht VELSHEDA - Image credit to Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

J Class superyacht VELSHEDA - Image credit to Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

And outside the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship?

Five boats are set to take part in the J-Class which made its return to the event last year. A mix of replicas and restorations of original 1930s designs, this year’s fleet comprises sailing yacht Lionheartsuperyacht Rainbowcharter yacht Rangercharter yacht ShamrockVelsheda yacht. In comparison to the slick, carbon fibre, stripped-out racing boats, the J-Class provides a more genteel and elegant approach to sailing. Handling these boats is not easy though – loads are huge, complicated, everything needs to be executed precisely by up to 40 skilled sailors.

Sailing yacht RAN 2, Mini Maxi Rolex World Champion 2010, 2011 & 2013 - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht RAN 2, Mini Maxi Rolex World Champion 2010, 2011 & 2013 - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

And what are the largest boats?

The 67m (220-ft) mega yacht Hetairos set the record as the largest ever boat to compete at the event in 2012 when her immense 62.5m (205-ft) mast dwarfed over most of the fleet. The largest boats outside of the J-Class – where Lionheart measures 43.7m (143-ft) and Ranger 41.6m (136-ft) – are the two Supermaxis superyacht Firefly (35m, 115-ft) and charter yacht Viriella (36m, 118-ft). A near 40-strong fleet is expected to take part comprising boats from around 15 different countries.

Royal Huisman sailing yacht METEOR First in Class and Second Overall at Newport Bucket Regatta 2014

August 25, 2014

This year’s Newport Bucket Regatta, which was held from August 21 to 24, saw the majestic 52m (169’) charter yacht Meteor place first in her class and second overall. Luxury sailing yacht Meteor is a beautiful gaff schooner, built by the prominent Dutch shipyard Royal Huisman in 2007.

METEOR - From Above

METEOR - From Above

Despite a five-minute penalty for an over-enthusiastic start in Race 2, impressive teamwork aboard the magnificent 52m (169ft) gaff schooner Meteor resulted in a highly consistent 2-2-1 scorecard, enabling her to seize First in Class and Second Overall at the 2014 Newport Bucket Regatta.

Given that the 2014 Nantucket featured “the greatest concentration of Bucket top performers of any Bucket regatta ever” (Hank Halsted’s blog) this is an impressive performance for any yacht and especially so for a modern classic such as superyacht Meteor.

Of course, Meteor yacht’s power and speed are not entirely unknown in Bucket circles: she won the St Barths Bucket outright (First in Class and First Overall) in 2009; and she was First in Class at Newport in 2010.

Video: 100 Super Maxi sailing yacht COMANCHE under construction at Hodgdon Yachts

August 25, 2014

Based in Maine, the US shipyard Hodgdon Yachts is currently working on the completion of the all-new fast carbon 30,5m (100’) Super Maxi sailing yacht Comanche. Set for launch in September 2014, the pre-preg superyacht Comanche is expected to participate in major ocean races around the world and break records on existing ocean crossings. Below is a video from the construction of this outstanding vessel, released by Onne van der Wal.

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014: Final Day

August 23, 2014

The best of winter sailing in the beautiful Australia yacht charter destination – Whitsundays capped off competing at this year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. The last day of this popular Australian race was marked by bucket loads of sunshine as well as puffy 18-20 knots of SSE trade winds.

Superyacht Wild Oats XI on final day_credit Andrea Francolini

Superyacht Wild Oats XI on final day_credit Andrea Francolini

Keeping it fresh, the race committee offered crews a navigator’s choice for the deciding race.  At Sidney Island off Lindeman Island, IRC divisions 1 and 2 opted to head for home either via Dent or Hamilton Island. The remaining divisions made the same choice at Isolated Rock.

A full spectrum of conditions over six days created opportunities to climb, and slip down the pecking order. Gear and crew were challenged in various wind ranges – 7-10kts and shortened courses on day one last Sunday to double that today, Saturday August 23, 2014.

IRC div 1 winner Team Beau Beste_credidt Andrea Francolini

IRC div 1 winner Team Beau Beste_credid Andrea Francolini

IRC

Karl Kwok’s all-conquering TP52 Team Beau Geste has cleaned up another major Australian regatta and title. The TP52 has been campaigned on the Australian East Coast for the past two years and raked in the spoils – the TP52 Southern Cross Cup and Audi IRC Australian Championship the biggies.

“We had persistent winds this week, no matter how strong or weak there were no car parks,” said Kwok. “The first day we ran aground due to a miscalculation. After that we got better each day, we rounded off all our rough edges.”

Beau Geste is heading back to Hong Kong for the South East Asian circuit.

Phil Turner’s RP66 Alive from the Derwent Sailing Squadron finished second by four points among the big boat division.

In IRC division 2 Stephen Barlow’s Farr 40 called Forty had enough credits to stay on dry land while the rest of the division fought for the minor placings in today’s 22nm race island course. A lucky break for Barlow and his Sydney based crew as they came ashore yesterday afternoon with 100 buckets of water slopping around in the bilge, a result of rudder bearing damage. Forty is now up on the hardstand at Hamilton Island for repairs.

Dark Star John Bacon MC38_credit Andrea Francolini

Dark Star John Bacon MC38_credit Andrea Francolini

“We were going to race today, luckily we didn’t need to as we were half sinking when we came ashore,” said Barlow. “It’s been a great regatta. We are surprised how we finished given the quality of the IRC competition at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.”

Post-race the co-owner of Forty, Sam Hill, organised for a couple of bottles of the island’s finest to be sent to the winning crew. Hill was back in Sydney and had calculated Forty couldn’t be beaten well before the news hit the crew dealing with the palaver.

Ross Wilsons’ Race Week regular Eagle Rock, a Beneteau First 47.7, took out second and Geoff Boettcher’s Secret Mens Business third.

IRC division 3 three, victor Local Hero from Canberra Yacht Club led the pointscore from the outset. Four wins from six races for the almost two-decade old boat is even more impressive given Race Week is the one time a year the ACT crew jump aboard the 36-footer that is Airlie Beach based.

“Yesterday was the best, a cracker breeze to claim the series; luckily we did,” said skipper Matt Owen. “None of us sail on this boat regularly, just one regatta a year. We saw almost 20 knots of wind yesterday, which was a little bit scary for us with big waves and whales about. We’ve had a reasonable record at Race Week; in 2010 we won our division and walked away with an Audi as well.

“I’ve done 11 or 12 consecutive Race Weeks,” said the multiple Elliott 7 and Flying 15 national champion. “We’ve got our Flying 15 world champs in France next year so sadly we won’t be at Hamilton Island. It’s really cool that I get to sail at Race Week with all of my mates. We don’t need an excuse to get out of Canberra in August, it’s five degrees at the moment… a bit chilly willy today.”

Newcastle based Beneteau 40.7 Schouten Passage campaigned by the Howard family finished up second on the points table and Andy Kearnan’s Summit 35 L’Altra Donna third in the six race series.

Farr 40 Forty Stephen Barlow_credit Andrea Francolini

Farr 40 Forty Stephen Barlow_credit Andrea Francolini

MC38s

The crew on Leslie Green’s MC38 Ginger celebrated winning the class’ Australian championship once results were posted yesterday afternoon.

John Bacon’s Dark Star from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club finished with a bullet in today’s passage race and held off class newcomer, Marcus Blackmore and Hooligan, to come in next best behind Ginger by six points after 12 races.

Variable SSE winds 9-15 knots had the one-design fleet taking plenty of water over the decks, Chris Hancock’s Vino topping 14kts of boat speed on the kite run.

CEO’s take

Hamilton Island CEO Glenn Bourke oversaw the smooth running of the 31st edition of one of Australia’s premier yachting regattas, commentated for Audi’s guests and raced part of the week aboard Bob Oatley’s supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI in IRC division 1.

“We had a great diversity in conditions from the beginning to the end of the week – there was something for everyone,” said Bourke. “The best breeze in years mixed with the entertainment on offer and the opportunity to catch up with old sailing friends really made the week. Our aim is to always do it bigger and better next year.”

Trophy winners will be awarded at tonight’s final presentation function.

Penultimate day of racing at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014

August 22, 2014

The penultimate day of racing at the currently running Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014 was marked by rugged-up crew, reefed sails and rockin’ downwind rides, replacing the lazy start to the six day series last Sunday, August 17, 2014.

Aerial view of the Fleet on Day 5 - Photo credit Andrea Francolini

Aerial view of the Fleet on Day 5 - Photo credit Andrea Francolini

There was a buzz around the dock this morning in anticipation of a fresh breeze and return of the S-SE tradewinds to the Whitsundays didn’t disappoint. It’s been a few years since the Race Week fleet was tested – 20-25 knots and a southerly chop to the south of Hamilton Island for the start had the multihull and cruising fleets in heavy weather mode with reefed sails and crew kitted out in wet weather gear.

IRC

Conditions were more moderate for IRC divisions 1 and 2 for the start of their passage race from the eastern area.

The top speed on line honours winner superyacht Wild Oats XI was 21 knots, the supermaxi effortlessly carving through the 23.5 mile race around Lindeman Island, Spitfire Rock Mark and Dent Island to the finish. The crew swapped their normal red shirts to yellow for today’s race, to show their support for the Cancer Council’s Daffodil Day.

Team Beau Geste’s fourth win on corrected time keeps them at the top of the points stack in IRC division 1. The crew of Phil Turner’s RP66 Alive is throwing everything they can at the Australian IRC champion, but while close at just two points behind hasn’t managed to rein them in.

Team Beau Geste IRC leader_credit Andrea Francolini

Team Beau Geste IRC leader_credit Andrea Francolini

“They are the perfect team on the perfect boat. That makes them hard to beat,” acknowledged Alive’s helmsman Matt Chew who is still grinning this afternoon having hit 20 knots of boat speed in 20 knots of wind. “Alive is a handful to manage…a lot of us haven’t raced on anything this big, but I love this boat. I can’t stop smiling,” said the Etchells champion.

In IRC division 2 Stephen Barlow’s Farr 40 called Forty has stretched its winning margin by 11 points over Geoff Boettcher’s Secret Mens Business.

Matt Owen’s Bh36 called Local Hero from Canberra picked up a fourth win today putting them in a winning position in IRC division 3. The Howard family from Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club is the closest boat in second by seven points with their Beneteau 40.7 Schouten Passage, named after the Tasmanian channel.

Non-spinnaker

The smallest boat in the 182-strong fleet is John Parkes’ Spider 22 Mark 1 called Untamed. Trailered all the way from the Illawarra, south of Wollongong on the NSW coast, Spider is racing in non-spinnaker division 2 for its first Race Week experience.

It’s a simple set up on the 1980-built 22-foot trailer sailer; bucket and sponge, bunks for six “if you want to get really cosy” warns Parkes, a camp stove, kettle, toaster, night light and hairdryer to dry out the timber at the top of the keel so it doesn’t swell with moisture.

Upwind cruising_credit Andrea Francolini

Upwind cruising_credit Andrea Francolini

“We have all the mod cons,” smiles Bates. One disappointment at Race Week is they miss the free sausage sizzle each afternoon for the cruising boats on F & G arm, “By the time we get in they are all gone,” he rues. Untamed is third overall with one race remaining in their series.

The largest in the fleet at 112 feet is Sassafras, the New Zealand superyacht also racing in non-spinnaker division. To compare with Untamed, Sassafras has below decks a tumble drier, dishwasher, washing machine, nine flat screen TVs, two dining areas and six bathrooms. “You name it, the boat’s got it,” said skipper Andrew Senn.

MC38s

A win and a second today, Friday August 22, 2014, has Leslie Green’s Ginger from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia leading the one design class’ national title with a day to go. John Bacon’s Dark Star from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club is second with 11 points back and clubmate Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan third thanks to a bullet and a third today.

Performance Racing

Local skipper Bruce Absolon shrugged off the smaller boats nipping at his Volvo 60’s stern in the division’s two windward/leeward races in Turtle Bay.

So close were Absolon’s Spirit of The Maid, Walter Lewin’s Vento and Russell McCart’s VO60 Spirit of Mateship for the first race that “a blanket could have been put over the three boats” reckons Absolon.

He went on to win that race and is ahead of the rest on series results. Short course racing generally suits the lighter and smaller planing boats. Not the case today with the heavy 17-year-old boat in the groove. “We’ve had no decent breeze for the past four Race Weeks and finally today we were able to show our true colours,” Absolon said. “Our balanced crew weight thanks to 19 guys on the rail played in our favour too.”

Colour

Team Oracle USA America’s Cup winning strategist and Olympic gold medallist Tom Slingsby popped down to the Melges 32 dock this morning to have a chat with the young crew on Barry Cuneo’s Envy Scooter about their preparation for the class’ world championships at the end of the year.

Crews took a break from the seriousness of competition for this morning’s Prix d’ Elegance, gunning for the best themed yacht and best presented yacht as judged by the panel sitting atop the flag deck at Hamilton Island Yacht Club. The winners will be announced at tomorrow night’s closing trophy presentation dinner.

Tomorrow marks the end of racing for the 31st edition of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. The forecast is identical to today; 18-22kt S-SE winds, possibly locally stronger.

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014: Day 4

August 21, 2014

The trade winds are steadily building at currently running Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014 towards the business end of the six-day race, and with up to 25 knots expected on Saturday the thrill and spill metre is on the rise.

AHIRW 2014 Day 4 - Photo credit Andrea Francolini

AHIRW 2014 Day 4 - Photo credit Andrea Francolini

Owner of the South Australian multihull Carbon Credit, Peter Hawker, had to swerve to avoid a whale calf that jumped out of the water 20 feet from the boat when they were powering downwind doing 15 knots in 12kts of S-SE breeze. The trimaran gybed away a second time to create some extra space, “We gybed away twice, we were worried that the mother or calf might breach again under or on top of the boat,” said Hawker. Photographer Andrea Francolini was in a helicopter and captured the moment.

Not long after the close encounter with the spirited junior, Hawker radioed the race committee to advise they were retiring after noticing a crack in the main beam between the two hulls. Carbon Credit is this afternoon moored at Airlie Beach. The boat’s regatta is over however the crew are planning to return to the island for the closing parties, and maybe pick up rides on other boats.

In IRC division 1 results three wins on the trot has Karl Kwok’s TP52 Team Beau Geste helmed by Will Tiller leading Phil Turner’s Hobart based Alive by the smallest of margins – one point. Heading off from the Dent Passage start Turner’s 66-footer, the former Black Jack, was kicking up a decent bow wave in 12-14kts of building pressure.

Aerial view of race start - Photo credit Andrea Francolini

Aerial view of race start - Photo credit Andrea Francolini

Hamilton Island CEO Glenn Bourke was at the helm of Bob Oatley’s supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI today, the four-time Laser world champion in the groove for the final third of the 23 nautical mile race around North Molle, Daydream, South Molle and Henning islands to the finish back in Dent Passage. Another line honours win belonged to Oatley who was aboard sitting comfortably in his specially designed chair on a track that can be moved up and down to suit the heel of the boat. The 86 year-old was at the helm of the lightweight AC45 Wild Oats yesterday.

Performance racing boats were sent on a 20 nautical mile race around Daydream Island and White Rock. Including today’s points the two Volvo 60s are leading that division with two races remaining.

The Russell McCart skippered VO60 Spirit of Mateship, carrying a part-crew of soldiers from the Queensland RSL’s Mates4Mates program, is one point ahead of Bruce Absolon’s Spirit of the Maid, today’s race winner and a Hamilton Island entry. Walter Lewin’s Farr 400 Vento is third on the pointscore.

Bob Oatley at the helm of the AC45 - Photo credit Andrea Francolini

Bob Oatley at the helm of the AC45 - Photo credit Andrea Francolini

The cruising divisions make up the bulk of the 182-boat fleet at Race Week. Cruising division 2 winner today was Phil Jobe’s Kite Runner, a six-year-old Hanse 430e with eight crew on board. So far they are running in the top two thirds of the results table. “I’ve always dreamed about winning a division,” said Jobe. “We’ve been working hard; we’ve got decent sails and a good crew. I can’t believe it… I had a board meeting today and I wasn’t on the boat for the win.”

Stand-in skipper John Bower said, “The conditions were ideal and suited the boat. We had excellent planning and team work. We had one altercation and had to do a 720 degree penalty turn at Daydream Island, but we overcame it and won!”

On today’s conditions Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson said, “It was a very fast race, after three days of light weather it was good to get some breeze finally. The forecast is for fresher tomorrow and 25 knots for the last day of the series on Saturday. That will be interesting….”

The forecast for the penultimate day of racing tomorrow, Friday August 22, 2014, is for 18-22kt S-SE winds, possibly locally stronger.

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014 halfway mark

August 19, 2014

The fabulous Australia yacht charter destination – Whitsundays turned on the best yet for the 182-strong fleet at the midway point at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. Three days down, a well-earned layday tomorrow, and then three more to conclude the premiere series.

Spinnaker start from Dent Passage_credit Andrea Francolini

Spinnaker start from Dent Passage - Photo credit Andrea Francolini

Consistent sou’easters at 10-12 knots and sunshine blessed the fleet. IRC divisions 1 and 2 and performance racing completed the stunning 32 nautical mile Club Marine medium distance race around North Molle and Henning islands back to the finish in Dent Passage off Hamilton Island Yacht Club.

Bob Oatley was aboard his 100 foot superyacht Wild Oats XI for today’s race, so was guru yachting journalist Bob Fisher all the way from the UK for his first Race Week.

“We are tinkering away doing our own thing as we get ready for this year’s Hobart race,” said Wild Oats XI’s helmsman Mark Richards this afternoon off the back of another line honours win.

Superyacht Wild Oats XI_credit Andrea Francolini

Superyacht Wild Oats XI Photo credit Andrea Francolini

On corrected time Karl Kwok’s TP52 Team Beau Geste leads IRC division 1 thanks to today’s second overall win. Stephen Barlow’s Farr 40 called Forty is the new pointscore leader in division 2 and Matt Owen’s Local Hero is refusing to give up the top spot in division 3.

Growth in the multihull and cruising divisions have boosted the Race Week fleet. Five multihulls were part of the inaugural multihull division in 2013. This year 21 racing and cruising multihulls answered the call.

Ian Torode’s Lightwave 38 called Fluffy Muffy took overall honours in today’s around-the-islands race in the multihull cruising division. “Today was a perfect regatta day,” said Torode. “We had a lovely start and got our nose in front so were quite happy. There are three of us on board: my brother and I plus a ring-in from the local gym.”

Fluffy Muffy_credit Andrea Francolini

Sailing yacht Fluffy Muffy - Photo credit Andrea Francolini

The rise of the multihulls is only going to increase says the owner of the Catana 59 Cap Rocat, Peter Dyer. “It was always Airlie Beach regatta that welcomed multihulls. Racing multis is becoming more and more popular; Hamilton Island is a mecca for it. I believe sales are increasing by 15% a year. With the America’s Cup using multihulls I think you’ll see faster boats being built and more people wanting to be first across the finish line.”

Three bullets for Leslie Green’s Ginger on the windward/leeward course at Turtle Bay to the east of Hamilton Island have the Sydney boat comfortably out in front at the half way mark of the MC38 class’ Australian championship. Ginger’s smiling tactician David Chapman said, “Today was about good teamwork. There was no right side of the course; it was pretty shifty. We sailed smart and found clear lanes and good boat speed. We took the opportunities when they presented themselves.”

Light air sailing isn’t optimal for the 27 ton sailing yacht Maxi Ragamuffin owned by Keith Batt, but the three-time Sydney Hobart line honours winner managed a win on corrected time in Cruising division 1 today, Tuesday August 19, 2014.

Tomorrow is a day of rest, for crews to pack lunch and head to Whitehaven beach or one of the many other world-beating natural wonders at and around Hamilton Island. For those staying on the island there’s a full program of activities starting with free beachside yoga at 7am, the Audi Drive Challenge from 8am-5pm, Beachside Pool Party from 11am at the main pool and champagne lunch presented by Piper Heidsieck at the Outrigger Marquee and the Charles Heidsieck and MR PORTER.COM lunch at qualia.

Racing resumes Thursday and the forecast for S-SE 14-18kts, potentially stronger locally at times, has the near 2,000 gathered yachties salivating at the chance to ramp up.

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014 kicks off

August 17, 2014

Day 1 of the currently running Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014 was an easy day, with plenty of sunshine as well as light winds.

Race start - Photo credit to Andrea Francolini_Audi

Race start - Photo credit to Andrea Francolini_Audi

For three of the crew from Craig Neill’s Judel Vrolijk 42 Elena Nova from Middle Harbour Yacht Club, it was particularly slow and tiring Lindeman Island race given they had spent all night in a hire car.

Three planes full of sailors attempted to land at the Island yesterday afternoon but due to poor visibility with the cloud cover and fog, the pilots were forced back to the mainland.

Elena Nova’s tactician David Burt said, “We circled around the island 10 times or so then were told we were heading back to Brisbane”.

Not dissuaded by the setback Burt and two others from the boat hired a car and drove all night, 1,200kms, to Chute Harbour and made the 7am ferry this morning. Other crew went to extraordinary efforts to make today’s first race, Sunday August 17, 2014.

Phillip Turner's racer chaser Alive - Photo credit to Andrea Francolini_Audi

Phillip Turner's racer chaser Alive - Photo credit to Andrea Francolini_Audi

Elena Nova is in division 2 of the new combined IRC fleet, a move by the race committee that Burt supports, “It’s a smart move, we’ll have better racing all-round”.

Phillip Turner’s Reichel Pugh designed 66-footer Alive, one of a handful of Tasmanian entries, challenged the unbroken line honours record at Race Week held by Bob Oatley’s sailing yacht Wild Oats XI in the 23.5 nautical mile Lindeman race. Alive crossed ahead of the supermaxi a number of times but wasn’t able to hang on to the high-speed greyhound over the distance. Bob Oatley, Wild Oats’ owner and the patriarch of Oatley family who are the custodians of Hamilton Island, was on board his champion and “in his element” according to the boat manager John Hildebrand.

Alive’s crew was declared provisional IRC division 1 handicap winners, the only results available at the time of print. Helmsman Matt Chew, a two time Etchells Australasian Championship winning skipper, said, “The boat loves the light air. We are focused on winning the light air races this week, then trying to hang on in the heavier breeze.”

Whale near the fleet - Photo credit Andrea Francolini_Audi

Whale near the fleet - Photo credit Andrea Francolini_Audi

Seven MC38 owners began their quest today to name a new Australian champion. The fleet caught a lovely late afternoon NE breeze, John Bacon’s Dark Star the first of the one-design fleet to take advantage.

The 80 foot three-time line honours winning maxi called Maxi yacht Ragamuffin and now owned by Keith Batt, celebrated its first race in 21 years having come out of charter work. Full story to come.

The Lindeman Island race kick-started Audi Hamilton Island Race Week’s six day on-water program. The bumper fleet of 182 yachts of all sizes and from all eras peeled off from the eastern starting area in 5 minute intervals starting at 10.30am with every intention of completing the full set course.

Given the gentle conditions the race committee wisely shortened all divisions bar IRC division A, to bring the fleet back at a reasonable time, and finished them at four different finish lines around Hamilton Island. Despite the shortened courses a number of crews opted to retire from racing.

The morning cool light SE wind shut down completely at one point and never made it over 7 knots until a new north east breeze late this afternoon took the wind reading up to double figures, 10 knots.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for sun and SW-S winds at 12-16kts becoming SE-NE at 5-10kts during the afternoon.