Why Hamilton Island Race Week appeals to women sailors

“It’s a little bit hectic: everyone’s jostling for their spot on the line and they put up their bright-coloured sails. It’s pretty special.”

In the past few years Thompson has settled on courses that suit the winds and the tidal flow around the Whitsundays. “The tidal flow is one of the most important things I look at because there’s quite a movement of water with the tide going one way and then the tide going the other way – up to four knots at times – so it makes a big difference,” he says.

The pandemic stopped many international competitors from coming out, but this year Thompson is expecting four boats from New Zealand and one from New Caledonia. “I was a bit dubious about what would happen after COVID but certainly the numbers are back,” says Thompson. “In fact, last year we had to close off the entries because we just didn’t have enough room in the marina.

In 2023 there will be 174 yachts racing for the Hamilton Island trophy.  Salty Dingo

“This year we haven’t quite got to that same number, but I think last year it was everybody getting out of COVID and just wanting to go away and play with their boats.”

All states are represented this year, with the gamut of participants running from experienced to newcomers. “I’ve had quite a few people ring me saying this is our first time; we haven’t done much racing but we’ve heard it’s such a good time,” he says.

The handicapped system levels out the playing field and takes the performance of boats into consideration. “So it’s not always the biggest or fastest boat that will win the trophy. It’s the best sailboat out there,” says Thompson.

As if the yachting isn’t exciting enough for sailors and spectators, there can be whales breaching.   Salty Dingo

And what keeps them coming back? “This time of the year on the Whitsundays you get the trade winds, which are very consistent,” Thompson says. “Plus being the middle of winter, up in the tropics it’s much warmer – the water’s warmer. And we try and give them really interesting courses.”

There are 74 islands in the Whitsundays group, which you won’t find around Sydney, Melbourne or even Brisbane. “So that makes it very interesting for the sailors.”

10 unmissable experiences to add to your Race Week itinerary

  1. Tee off in paradise | Swing into action at Hamilton Island Golf Club on neighbouring Dent Island, followed by lunch at the Clubhouse.
  2. Hike to race views from on high | Take a trek to Passage Peak for a bird’s-eye view of the racing.
  3. Sip sundowners at sunset | Toast to the day’s triumphs and salute the sailors on return at the Bommie Deck, which transforms into a Piper Champagne bar for the week.
  4. Swap sun hats for chefs’ hats | Savour culinary creations at Hamilton Island’s hatted restaurants Bommie and Pebble Beach at qualia.
  5. Journey to the Heart | Ride a helicopter to the natural wonder that is Heart Reef, where you can snorkel the surrounding waters.
  6. Heli to Whitehaven | Take flight to the world-famous Whitehaven Beach, where white sands await your arrival.
  7. Relax and rejuvenate | Treat yourself to a pampering spa experience at Spa wumurdaylin.
  8. Cruise the Whitsundays | No visit to the Whitsundays is complete without a visit to Whitehaven Beach on board a ferry-style catamaran.
  9. Explore Hill Inlet by catamaran | Take a high-speed catamaran to Hill Inlet, one of the most picturesque spots in the Whitsundays, where bushwalks await.
  10. Dance the night away | Join the vibrant festivities at the Captains Club on Front Street, open till late.

Where to stay

Hundreds of competitors sleep on their yachts in the marina. Others opt for the luxury of qualia, the boutique Beach Club, the four-star Reef View Hotel, or one of the 160 private holiday homes on the island available for hire. For more and to book, go to hamiltonisland.com.au/hotels-and-accommodation

This post was originally published on this site