COMPETITIVE: IRC division 1 line honours went to Wild Oats X.
COMPETITIVE: IRC division 1 line honours went to Wild Oats X. © Salty Dingo 2019

UP CLOSE: Hamilton Island Race Week

GLAMOUR was on and offshore on Hamilton Island today as the waters around the islands were shining with colour.

Spinnakers billowed in the 20-knot-plus winds, as Hamilton Island buzzed with 2000 yachties, all of them sporting the same universal look: bronzed skin, sun bleached hair, polo shirts and wet weather jackets.

The shoes are also a dead give-away.

Dubbed the Melbourne Cup of the water, Hamilton Island Race week has had its second largest fleet in the event's 36-year history.

Informally known as "Schoolies for adults", the week-long event combines competitive sailing with glamorous onshore events and activities.

Day 5 of racing for day 6 of the event had perfect conditions with competitors lining up and tearing through the water, spurred along by a 22-26 knot winds.

IRC Division 1 line honours went to the incredibly slick Wild Oats X, which crossed the line just before 2pm.

Hamilton Island CEO and Wild Oats X head tactition Glenn Bourke said the event got better every day.

"The breezes have been fabulous, the entertainment and the food and the fun we've all had - it's been a wonderful week all round," Mr Bourke said.

He said the conditions for day five of racing had been windier than expected, but the extra gusts made for an exciting pace out on the water.

"We had a tough course, but we had a lot of fun - big spinnaker rides down the wind, and there was a lot of boats in close proximity so it was a bit of nip and tuck, but a wonderful day," he said.

Mr Bourke said the Wild Oats 10 crew nailed the second half of the race, and he believed they were on the money for a podium result overall.

Vitamin mogul Marcus Blackmore's yacht Hooligan which won Airlie Beach Race Week, is the favourite for the regatta, with the 60-foot yacht being a hard act to follow.

Airlie Beach local Mat Himson is part of the crew for Merit, which is moored in the Whitsundays.

Himson said the boat hit 20 knots today, which is a personal best for the owners.

"It's an awesome sailing location- as far as sailing around the islands go, it's impressive," he said.

"The fact that the event runs when there are whales around is another awesome spectacle."

Himson has been sailing for more than two decades, and said the regatta was a melting pot of sailors from around the country.

The Merit crew had to overcome a few obstacles over the course.

"We've had a little bit of gear failure, our ballard system is currently not operating," he said.

"Just after we hit 20 knots on of the lines broke, we lost a spinnaker."

The crew overcame the challenges, and finished eighth in the blue division.

Others weren't so lucky.

About midday on the Dent passage crossing, Zen, owned by Glen Ketelbey was forced to retire, after the vang snapped in half.

Mr Ketelbey said it was disappointing, because it was a "cracker day to be out on the water", but the owner-skipper was confident the boat would be able to repaired, ready for day six of racing on Saturday.


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