Seriously, you have to sail in the Hamilton Island Race Week (HIRW) once in your life, but be warned, once you do, you’ll be back for more!

Whether you are a yacht owner or crew, this regatta with over 200 boats in the pristine waters of the Whitsunday Islands is a bucket list experience.

Some lucky members of the Windcraft community can testify to that!

From the owner of Solaris 47 ‘Vamos dos’ – ‘I’ve done a lot of regattas around the globe and this is definitely one of the best. It’s a beautiful place to sail. The whole vibe is friendly and relaxed yet the racing is still very competitive’.

By Bow Caddy Media

Windcraft boat owners came from all over Australia not only to compete but to revel in the atmosphere and bond with their sailing community.

Denby Steele on Dehler 38 ‘Rocksalt’ says, ‘I’m from Adelaide and I would rate the Hamilton Island Race Week as one of the best weeks of my life – the challenge of racing every day, the incredible around clock support from Windcraft and being part of the Windcraft owners family. It was a fantastic experience for me and my crew – we met so many great people’.

Invitation to all Windcraft Boat Owners

Windcraft invite you to race in the 2019 HIRW. Yachties who are returning for more and those who have never had the experience – now is the time to start planning.

Ric Hawkins, Windcrafts Hamo go-to guy and organiser says ‘this is the regatta of a lifetime and places are booking out fast so jump on board quickly – we’d love you to join us”

Everyone and anyone can join in. The event caters for cruising yachts as well as serious racers. In fact the cruising division is the biggest and fastest growing division in the regatta.

It’s such a beautiful location with so many islands to explore that a week may just not be enough. Some owners come for the racing and cruise afterwards with family and friends and others leave their boat in the Whitsundays and fly up for school holidays.

Owner Steve Twentyman and family from Melbourne liked it so much they have extended their pen booking for six months so they can fly up for holidays and then sail back via Sydney for New Year’s Eve under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Steve is already planning Hamo 2019.

Race Week 2018

This year’s race week was champagne sailing in every essence with light to moderate breezes of a 6-12 knot average in flat water. The South-East trade winds did come in on the Monday with in excess of 30 knots but a delayed start for the cruising fleets saw the breeze moderating from 25 to 15 knots by the end of the day.

The Solaris 47 owner comments that ‘the courses were great – sailing can be tricky due to the tides and wind variation but it adds to the challenge. The logistics are straight forward with the start line close to the marina so no time is wasted. The whole thing is really well organised and with a fleet of over 200 boats – that’s a big regatta’.

Wildlife in the Whitsundays at this time of the year is abundant. Jade Cole – Branch Manager of Windcraft Melbourne, sailed on Dehler 47 ‘Rocksalt’ and was delighted ‘we saw a whale come up next to the boat – it was mind-blowing for the crew. We saw mothers and calves and one pod put on a show for us – that’s something I’m sure you won’t see at any other regatta in the world!

Speak to anyone from this year’s race week and there is a common theme – the location, the racing, and the fun.

Steve Twentyman onboard his Hanse 505 ‘Shimmer’ says, ‘the environment was so gorgeous with flat water and nice breezes. Racing in amongst the islands was pinch yourself stuff. It’s the first time we have raced against boats the same as ‘Shimmer’ – there were 4 Hanse 505s, it was brilliant’!

The Fun of it all

HIRW brings people and yachts together and draws worldwide media attention.

Everyone involved has a ridiculously good time racing and the list of choices for socialising with those you know and those you don’t is endless. Think cocktail parties, luncheons, beach yoga, food markets and of course the fabulous Lay Day parties.

Prix d’Elegance:

The unique Prix d’Elegance contest is a traditional feature of the week and it’s two awards from Hamilton Island Yacht Club are highly sought after: The Best Presented Yacht and Crew and the Best Fun-Themed Yacht and Crew.

This year Windcraft owners spent a lot of time on their themes and costumes.

Ian Edwards – Dehler 47 ‘Wings’ won The Best Fun-Themed Yacht and Crew with their “Save the Bee” theme ‘the costumes and decorations were obtained from the USA. The whole team worked on the choreography and we really looked the part. At the presentation night, they made more of the parade and our win than the race results!’.

By Bow Caddy Media

Windcraft Support for Boat Owners:

Iain Bishop, Windcraft Technical Support says, ‘there is a real community within the Windcraft family at the HIRW. We are in contact with every one of our owners and offer help and guidance from beginning to end’.

Ways in which we can help are:

  • Guidance through the application process
  • Organising a delivery skipper from anywhere in Australia to Hamo return if needed
  • Crew to help you get there
  • Racing crew during the event
  • Technical and general support during race week
  • Prompt ordering of parts due to breakages during a race

Denby Steele says, ‘Windcraft made the logistics easy. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. They found a delivery skipper and crew to sail ‘Rocksalt’ to Hamilton Island from Sydney. Jade Cole crewed with us the entire week – her experience and knowledge was invaluable.

The support from Windcraft made us feel part of the family. In fact, if we had done it by ourselves we would have felt like strangers. We really felt really part of it and it couldn’t have happened in any other way’.

A highlight for owners is the Windcraft pre-race welcome and briefing drinks function. Topics discussed include:

  • How to set up the boats
  • What to expect
  • Sailing tips
  • Weather and currents which play a big part in racing strategy
  • Breakages and repairs
  • Q and A which is always popular

Ric Hawkins says, ‘this year we had an international navigator speaking about negotiating the currents and the weather. You just can’t buy that information – people loved it’.

While you are up there – more racing to be had!

Hamo is one of 3 regattas run in the Whitsundays over the period of about a month. They are run in succession – Airlie Beach Race Week, the Hamilton Island Race Week and then Magnetic Island Race Week. Some Windcraft yacht owners take the opportunity to do more than one.

Ian Edwards sailed to the Whitsundays from Noumea to do all three regattas after competing in the Sydney Noumea race. Now Ian and his wife are enjoying some cruising time before Wings is sailed back to Sydney to prepare for the Sydney to Hobart race.

Plan Ahead to Secure a Place for Hamo 2019

Being such a popular world-class regatta you will need to book well in advance so it’s a great idea to start planning right away. Below are a couple of tips and resources to help you.

Meanwhile we hope you decide to join the community of Windcraft owners and have a blast sailing in the regatta of a lifetime!

Tips and Ideas for Planning

Accommodation books out fast so if you are inviting family and friends or if you and your crew are thinking of sleeping in a hotel instead of on board, again, we would recommend you book by the end of October 2018.


Above & Beyond Boating have an excellent 6- part video series on preparing for a trip to the Whitsundays. It’s called Whitsundays and Beyond and can be found here:

Need a Practice Run?

If you think you need a practice run or more experience before any of the regattas a good opportunity is the Windcraft Port Stephens Sail Away in April.
Read about it here.

The Sail Away is a great introduction to and practice for an ocean trip. The popular Sail Port Stephens Regatta starts the day after which many of our owners stay on for and enjoy – a kind of mini Hamilton Island Regatta!

Call Ric Hawkins at the Windcraft head office on 02 9979 1709 to chat about anything Hamo.