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Organisers cap the entry list at 271 boats

Special report by Rob Mundle

It’s Australia’s largest offshore keelboat regatta, with an entry list of more than 270 boats.

After suffering a direct hit from Covid-19 last year and having to be cancelled, Hamilton Island Race Week is back this year bigger and better than ever.

Such was the enthusiasm from yacht owners to be part of the 28th staging of the award-winning event organisers had no option but to cap the entry list at 271, a record by no small margin. Still, there was a significant waiting list beyond that figure which was decided on reluctantly by Hamilton Island’s CEO Glenn Bourke A.M., and the island’s owners, the Oatley family, all yachting enthusiasts of note.

The regatta will be staged from August 21-28.

The good news is that the final fleet represented a good cross-section of yachting, from Marcus Blackmore’s new 100-footer down to 21ft trailerables, plus multihulls and comfortable cruising yachts.

“Plans for Race Week 2021 confirm the series is well on the way to making a full recovery and then some,” said Bourke. “We are confident that this year we will deliver the best regatta ever both on the water and socially on island.”

This year Hamilton Island Race Week was destined to reach new heights before the first start gun sounded. Apart from the record fleet and an impressively refreshed social agenda, the 2021 regatta was chosen by the national yachting authority to be the venue for two Australian Championships – the IRC (International Rating Certificate) Australian Championship, (the most prized national award for ocean racing yachts), and the Australian Racing Multihull Championship – being for high-performance catamarans and trimarans. Most impressively, 132 yachts entered the “Hamilton Island Division” and another 33 entries were lodged for the “Non-Spinnaker Division”, the category designed for cruising-oriented yachts.

The stand-out yacht this year was destined to be Marcus Blackmore’s magnificent new 30.5-metre long sloop, Ammonite. With a gleaming black hull and a towering 40-metre high mast, this impressive yacht was destined to be recognisable no matter where it was on the race course. Still, owner Blackmore had a dilemma. One of the highlights at Race Week each year is the staging of the Prix d’Elegance – a fun event where the yachts are decorated and the crews wear themed fancy dress. This is part of Race Week where crews can finish last in every race during the week yet still win the Prix d’Elegance trophy.

Blackmore and his crew were the standouts in the Prix d’Elegance last year when the entire crew dressed in lime green, body-hugging jumpsuits and danced like zombies on the deck. It was as funny as it was spectacular.

“It is going to be difficult the top that effort this year,” Blackmore has admitted, “but we will do our best”.

Entries for Hamilton Island Race Week 2021 are now closed. If you are still hoping to make it up for Race Week, join the waitlist by emailing raceweek@



Published in print July-September 2021


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