It’s Australia’s largest offshore keelboat regatta, held in the stunning Whitsunday islands. And this year the Hamilton Island Race Week is going to be bigger and better than ever… with three Dehlers heading up to compete! Dehler Brand Manager, Ric Hawkins is super excited because all the Dehlers have identical rigs so it’ll be a bit like a one design race. Ric and Team Windcraft will be there to support their owners…and most of all have FUN!
One boat and her owners are so keen…they’re already there! The Dehler 46 “YKNOT” and her co-owner, David Newton made the trip up the coast at the end of March. We caught up with David to find out how the preparations are going and how his new Dehler performed for trip up the coast.
The trip took six months of planning as I wanted it not just to be a delivery but a bit of a holiday and a catch up with mates. So I divided the trip up into three sections and organised a few mates to come along for the ride…it all came together and we had three different crews for the trip up.
Apart from our Twilights and Newton Real Estate Sunday Series races, we did a couple of training days, mainly on setting the gennaker and that sort of thing. I spoke to a lot of people from Windcraft and the yacht club at Port Hacking that had done the trip previously and we made a few minor modifications to the boat.
We added a boom break and a gennaker …and that made running with the wind a whole lot easier.
We worked quite closely with Windcraft and the guys there were absolutely fabulous. They were very helpful not only with advice but coming down to the boat and making some pre-trip modifications and getting us prepared for the trip.
Ric Hawkins was amazing. He came out on a couple of the training days with us and helped us get ready for the trip and for Race week.
Particularly in some gennaker training which we haven’t done a lot of. Ric was excellent on that.
He is always there, even if he can’t make it down he is always available on the phone to have a chat about different things.
How long did the trip take you?
I had the boat delivered from Port Hacking to the Gold Coast which saved us a week. And then we budgeted to have 3 weeks going from the Gold Coast up to Hamilton Island.
We looked at tides. We looked at distances. We didn’t want to necessarily sail overnight as it’s quite demanding and it is quite hard work. We wanted it to be a little bit more casual and the aim was to do no more than about 80 or 90 miles in a day.
And made sure we got in in time to have dinner, red wines and play 500.
I think one of the highlights would have to have been the Bar Crossing at the Wide Bay Bar, which is at the Southern end of Fraser Island. We had to sail up from Mooloolaba to Rainbow Beach. We stayed at Twin Island Head so that when we crossed the bar the next day it was at the right tide and we had all the right co-ordinates. So a bit preparation went into that. We had a perfect crossing.
It was all timed well… There’s a bit of a surf when you are surfing a 46 foot boat down a swell. But when we got to the marina, the fella greeted us there and said that the blokes that came in before us didn’t fair so well. And we looked across at the boat parked right next door to us and their rudder was floating in the water…So we felt sorry for them but quite proud that we had made it ok.
Everybody got on famously. We had some great meals at some of the great little stopovers. We played a lot of 500 and everybody had a great time.
What did you do with the boat once you got there?
The plan was to meet my family and a couple of other families up there.
We took everybody and the kids over to Whitehaven beach. That was a lot of fun because I’ve got teenagers that are very hard to impress. They are not really into sailing.
So we had all of them on the boat and we got them all heeled up at 45 degrees and they were all screaming and carrying on and having a ball. It was a good day out.
We did day trips. We did a sunset cruise while we were up there. Took everybody out on the boat for a few drinks and some seafood.
We didn’t really get much time to explore the Whitsundays this time. We just hung around Hamilton Island…which was great!
It is pretty much ready to go. We’ve got everything sorted. I mean the trip up was a really good proving ground for the boat. So the boat is pretty much ready.
We got some FCL sails (fast cruising laminate) with the boat but we decided about a month before the trip to upgrade them to carbon sails. So we have a beautiful set of black carbon sails tucked away in the boat ready for race week.
We’ve only had them out three times before we left so we are looking forward to getting those bad boys out!
The crew I’d like to be more ready but to get eight blokes in one place at one is a problem. So we’ll do a couple of little sailing trips in the days before the first race. Hopefully I’m lining up Ric to come out with us on the Saturday afternoon, the day before racing and give us a few last minute tips.
We are relatively new to the sport and it’s been an interesting exercise in mateship rather than anything else. We’ve brought together this group of mates. You know some guys from school days that I haven’t spent much time with. We’ve all come together and the focus has been the boat.
I don’t know if we will be the most prepared crew but we will be the most enthusiastic crew!
I’ve always wanted to do Hamilton Island race week. It’s something I’ve been watching on TV for years. It’s been one of those goals that I’ve always wanted to do. There’s been quite a lot of preparation to go into it. It’s something that we’ve been working on since we ordered the boat with Windcraft….It was always my goal to do a trip and sail up to the Whitsundays. So no better excuse to get it up there than race week.
The main focus is fun. We are not there really to win races. We are there to have a good time and participate and we’ll give it our best shot!
Best of luck to David & crew on Dehler 46, “YKNOT”. The Hamilton Island Race week will be held between 20 – 27th August.