US giants acquired by Aussies

American maxis sold down under and will be heading for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week reports Rob Mundle

Tuesday May 20th 2008, Author: Rob Mundle, Location: United Kingdom
The lure of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week sees the entry list climbing rapidly towards 100, and two local owners purchasing Grand Prix level racing yachts in America so they can set their sights on the top prize.

Sydney yachtsman Andrew Short has confirmed his purchase of a 24.5m maxi from Newport, Rhode Island. His plan is to enter the yacht - which was originally launched as Neville Crichton’s 2000 generation Shockwave – in next month’s 635 nautical mile Newport to Bermuda race, then immediately after that setting sail for Hamilton Island so he can be at Race Week for the start of competition on 23 August. The yacht will travel via the Panama Canal and cover more than 10,000 nautical miles just to compete.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the U.S., Brisbane yachtsman Peter Harburg has purchased the 66ft Stark Raving Mad in California with the intention of campaigning her at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. He plans to also do the lead-up races, including the Audi Sydney-Gold Coast race, to prepare for AHIRW.

Both these yachts are impressive designs from the Reichel/Pugh office. Stark Raving Mad is to be renamed Black Jack in recognition of the achievements of Australian Formula One motor racing legend, Sir Jack Brabham. Sir Jack has accepted the role of patron for the team.

Black Jack is a near sistership to Bob Oatley’s Admiral's Cup winner Wild Oats X, which will also be at Race Week this year. Each has a canting keel; however Wild Oat’s X features CBTF with a forward rudder while Black Jack has a fixed foil and trim tab forward.

Harburg has campaigned the similar-sized Spirit of Queensland out of Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron this past season. He will have Mark D’Emilio as project manager and Mark Bradford as skipper. One of Australia’s best known sailors on the international scene, Billy Merrington, will be tactician and other key roles will be filled by prominent sailors out of Brisbane.

The managing director of Audi Australia, Joerg Hoffman, said he welcomed such strong support for the regatta from the Australian yachting community: “This kind of investment in the sport is commendable and will assist key players, like Hamilton Island and Audi, to develop one of the world’s best regattas. We already have the ideal destination and the right sailing conditions. With fast, competitive boats and experienced crews the result is simply a better event for all concerned. And with an Audi vehicle as the major prize, we hope to continue to help drive interest and entries in this event.”

AHIRW Race Director, Denis Thompson, expects the entry list to top 100 by the end of this week. The rate of entries is well above what was seen last year and the current signs suggest that the record of 216 entries, set in 2007, will be exceeded.

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 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

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