Kiwis vs the Aussies
This first contest will be a Trans Tasman stoush – three impressive IRC rated yachts from Australia pitted against three of New Zealand’s best. The team that scores the highest accumulated points over the nine races making up the IRC Grand Prix competition at Race Week will be the first to have its name go on the spectacular trophy.
Bringing added impetus to this year’s battle is the fact that this is the first time in more than 20 years that the Kiwis have ventured to Australian shores to engage in an ocean racing team championship, and they are determined to leave with the impressive prize.
The Hamilton Island Yacht Club team, representing Australia, will comprise the current Audi Hamilton Island Race Week defending champion, Yendys (Geoff Ross), the winner of the inaugural Audi IRC Australian Championship, Rod Jones, with his new Archambault 40, Alegria, and Michael Hiatt’s well performed Cookson 50, Living Doll.
Carrying the Kiwi flag will be three equally strong yachts: Rob Bassett’s 52ft canting-keeler, Wired, the very competitive Cookson 50, Pussy Galore, owned by champion offshore yachtsman Anotole Mafsen, and the thoroughbred Marten 49 cruiser-racer, Carrera, owned by John Meadowcroft.
The Race Director for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, Denis Thompson, said that the Australian team had been selected to match the New Zealanders on size and performance.
“It is a well balanced team which we are confident will see its name go onto the trophy at the end of Race Week,” Thompson said. “Quite ironically, it’s national in its structure as it comprises Living Doll from Victoria, Yendys from NSW, and Alegria from Queensland.”
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week Promotions Manager, Rob Mundle, said that while this year would see a battle between Australia and New Zealand, there were encouraging signs indicating that the South Pacific Cup would become a truly international contest in the near future.
“Now that we have the series up and running I won’t be surprised to see teams from England and the U.S. at Hamilton Island for the next South Pacific Cup,” Mundle said. “There was strong interest shown this time, especially from the UK, but time beat them. We are working on foreign teams being able to charter local yachts so they can compete for the cup next time around. Things are looking good.”
The number of entries for this year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is expected to climb past 150 next week. The current indication is that last year’s record fleet of 216 will probably be exceeded.
As Race Week approaches Hamilton Island is continuing to expand in spectacular fashion via major upgrades in accommodation, and the development of new facilities. Among the new projects being undertaken is the spectacular 18-hole Hamilton Island Golf Course, and the impressive Hamilton Island Yacht Club and villa complex. The first significant development to be established under the new plan, ‘qualia’, is a world class resort situated on the secluded northern-most tip of the island.
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is Australia’s most awarded regatta. It has been recognised as Queensland's ‘Best Significant Event’ at the annual Queensland Tourism Awards on three occasions, and also taken out two Australian Tourism Awards.
All regatta information is available on the website