With a successful and fun week behind us at Airlie, we packed away the tropical shirts, put all the heavy gear back on board and headed off to Hamilton Island for another week of fun in the sun! Sadly leaving behind Rod and Megan (the best shore crew ever!) the rest of us ambled our way over to Hamilton Island to meet our new crew of Ian, David and Caroline. Jane and Helen were staying with us for a few days while Bec and Matt were showing the stamina of true yacht racers and completing both weeks!
It had been hot at Airlie but nothing like Hamilton. What little wind there was didn’t seem to reach the marina and we were all soon running for the resort pool.
Day One and we headed out to the Eastern Start Line with 200 other boats, wearing our smart (and clean) Manly Sailing Crew Shirts we fitted right in! It was an incredible sight; much as we love the Airlie Beach regatta, the sight of 200 yachts lining up for their start at Hammo takes your breath away every time!
It was a bit of a floater, a slow down wind start but we were on the right side of the course when the breeze filled in a little and got away from the pack, only to stop again with all the lead yachts at Isolated Rock. Never before have we done a race where we raised the spinnaker on all legs…the breeze was shifty and almost non existant in places but surprisingly for a very heavy boat we held our own and came out with a 12th (out of a fleet of 42), pretty good for a first day.
That was to be the pattern for the week, light, variable and shifty winds…..oh, how they shifted. On one downwind start we managed to hoist the spinnaker on the port side, drop it, hoist it again and gybe it — all before we hit the start line……you can imagine the howls of protest from the foredeck……!
Shortened courses were the order of the week but there were no complaints from the KAT crew…as soon as we crossed that finish line we either motored to a nice anchorage for lunch and swims or hit straight back to the island and headed for the resort pool. On more than one occasion a crew member was heard to murmur “I wonder what the poor people are doing” as they sipped on a Happy Hour Cocktail poolside….
One of the highlights of the week (besides the sailing) was sunset drinks at the new yacht club, what an amazing building, well worth a visit. The heat was draining for everyone and we were all drinking litres of water during races so it was only right that we kept up our liquid consumption after racing!
Friday dawned and with it the Prix d’Elegance, a competition for the best dressed yacht. Bec and Matt were in charge of organizing our outfits for the day and they did us proud. Dressed up as pirates we passed the judging committee as Ian and David had a mock swordfight on the bow, the rest of us “Aaaarring” with all our might. Being pirates must have inspired us because despite the fact that light winds are not good conditions for KAT, we sailed our hearts out and came second, there was much celebrating as we collected our trophy that night…..
Until the race committee called us the next day and said “Emmmm, we’re really sorry. We made a mistake, you actually came third, can you bring your trophy back and we’ll swap it for the third place one”. When I took the trophy back they were most surprised saying that some people had refused to swap back and gave us a bottle of wine to say thank you. I didn’t tell them that we were happy to swap our trophy for a new one because Chris had dropped ours on the way to the pub the night before and chipped it…………….
And so a fabulous week in the tropics drew to a close. Quieter on the race circuit than usual, but no less tactical or competitive. We were most proud of our overall 11th in division and can’t wait to come back again next year!
As the good ship KAT makes he way back down the coast to Sydney we are looking forward to another summer of charters, parties, company events and racing. See you on the water!