The 29th annual Audi Hamilton Island Race Week launched last night at Hamilton Island’s iconic Yacht Club to a spectacular fireworks display.
Bob Oatley, an avid sailor and owner of Wild Oats XI and Hamilton Island officially launched the week with a ceremonial raising of the flag assisted by naming rights sponsor, Audi Australia’s Managing Director, Uwe Hagen.
Attending the prestigious launch event were distinguished guests and sailing’s elite including London 2012 Olympics gold medalist and national hero Tom Slingsby, John Bertrand AM, past IRC champion sailors Stephen Ainsworth and Marcus Blackmore, along with world-class sailors such as Peter ‘Billy’ Merrington, Robbie Naismith, Adrienne Cahalan, Mike Sanderson and Ryan Houston. Famous faces were also in the crowd including Asher Keddie, Mindy Woods, Angela Bishop, Paula Joye and others.
Bob’s eldest son and Chairman of Hamilton Island Enterprises, Sandy Oatley also attended the event with his daughter Nicky Tindill (nee Oatley), representing three generations of the Oatley family.
When speaking about the event, Bob said: ‘Each year our challenge is to make sure Audi Hamilton Island Race Week retains its identity as Australia’s premier regatta, and this year will be no exception’.
Described by many as one of the best sailing regattas in the world, the program includes categories for top-class racers ‘Grand Prix’, an IRC Passage class for modern fast-cruising yachts, performance racing and sports boat classes. There are also cruising, corporate, bareboat and non-spinnaker divisions.
This year, the Audi IRC Australian Championship will be fought and won at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. Three categories will compete against their peers for the glory of being named Audi IRC Australian Champion for Class A, B and C. The championship is endorsed and scored by Yachting Australia. The winner of each class will win a brand new North Sails spinnaker which will be emblazoned with the Audi IRC Australian Championship logo.
Paired with an off-water social schedule of celebrity chefs, fashion shows, and glamorous parties that will appeal to the most discerning of tastes, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is the not-to-be-missed event on the international sailing calendar.