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Get Set For Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

It’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, which means lots of yachts and one huge party in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

By Simon Webster
Published: 11 August, 2017

Yachts large and small are gracing the water and the famous and fashionable are lapping up food, wine and fun onshore. It can mean only one thing: Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is on again. This isn’t just another race. Taking place in the breathtaking Whitsunday Islands (home to Heart Reef, Whitehaven Beach, qualia and the eponymous Hamilton Island), it’s a week-long collection of parties, events, glamour and racing – a highlight on the calendar of sailors and partygoers alike.

Video guide: Audi Hamilton Island Race Week Video: Jamie Humphris, Mountain High Media


Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, Hamilton Island, Queensland

Hamilton Island Race Week has been a tradition since April 1984, when the first race was held with an astonishingly high turnout of 93 yachts. (Then again, who wouldn’t want to sail in the Whitsunday Islands?)

Race Week has gone on to become Australia’s biggest offshore yacht regatta and one of the world’s most popular sailing events.

This year (19-26 August) about 230 yachts from around the world are racing on these stunning tropical Queensland waters, with entries ranging from boats that fit on a trailer to supermaxis such as Wild Oats X, chartered by Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.

“The racing is first and foremost what Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is about,” says Denny-Lyn Dixon, general manager marketing, Hamilton Island. “If you haven’t sailed it, it’s on your bucket list, and if you have, it’s a must-do-again. The islands make for not only beautiful, but actually quite challenging racing.”

If you’re not in a crew, you can get a great vantage point to watch the races from the architecturally bold Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Alternatively, hop aboard a spectator boat such as the luxury motor yacht Alani, which offers a two-hour VIP experience from $250, including sparkling wine, beer and a cheese platter.



Piper Heidsieck Lunch, Hamilton Island, Queensland

While the sailing may be the primary reason for up to 3000 people descending on Hamilton Island for Race Week (around 2000 of whom are competitors), there’s no doubt that the onshore activities are also an attractive lure.

“It’s a big party,” Dixon says. “A very outdoorsy, big party. We call it the best of Australian lifestyle. It’s the parties, the beautiful wines and Champagnes, the fashion designers, the celebrities. Everyone comes together and has a really fun week.”

This year, there are more onshore events than ever, offering activities day and night, all week long, with half a dozen leading chefs in attendance and sensational food and wine the star attractions.

Highlights include dinner with award-winning chef Matt Stone, the much-loved Wild Oats Wines Ladies Lunch, and the celebrated Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Lunch.



Scenic flight, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

The non-sailing side of Hamilton Island Race Week isn’t all about indulging in fine food and wine – although, to be fair, it does play quite a big part.

If you’re looking for other activities, you can test drive an Audi Q5 (or flag one down for a free transfer around the island), tee off at the beautiful Hamilton Island Golf Club, try beach yoga, or make the most of Hamilton Island’s other attractions – including access to the Great Barrier Reef and scenic flights – for unforgettable views of yachts and whales.

Look out for the fashion events, and give your vocal cords a workout at the Karaoke Competition – although we can’t guarantee there isn’t food and wine involved here, too.

And if you’re feeling health-conscious, make a beeline for the Beard Season Skin Check Tent, a new initiative from the Beard Season charity this year, which offers free skin check-ups – particularly appropriate for sailors, who spend so much time in the sun. 



Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, Hamilton Island, Queensland

For all the glitz, glamour and drama of Race Week, the overriding theme is fun. There will be lots of that at the Prix d’Elegance on Thursday 24 August.

On leaving Hamilton Marina and entering Dent Passage that day, the boats will turn starboard to cruise past the Flag Deck of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club – “as close as possible... without running aground”, one organiser explains.

They are judged in two categories: Best Presented Yacht and Crew, and Best Fun-Themed Yacht and Crew. “People flock to the marina and yacht club to look at them,” Dixon says. “It’s a long-standing tradition at yacht regattas around the world. However, in true Aussie style, our Prix d’Elegance takes on a good-natured slant, with many yachts spending months working on themes to present on the day. It’s a lot of fun.”