160 entries and climbing…

A sudden rush of entries for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012 has seen the fleet of yachts go beyond 150, then, in just a few days, surge past 160.

At the same time, good news has emerged for any group of sailors who can make a spontaneous decision about wanting to be part of this year’s great regatta: the charter group Sunsail, which is based on Hamilton Island, has two additional Cruising Division yachts available for the series, which will run from August 17 to 25.

Somewhat appropriately, it was the Farr 57, Espresso Forte, owned by long-time Race Week supporter, Laurence Freedman, which became the 150th entry.

For the past decade Sydneysider Freedman, and his dedicated crew, have made Audi Hamilton Island Race Week an essential part of their annual sailing calendar, and they can see no time soon when that will change.

‘Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is just magic year after year,’ said an enthusiastic Freedman. ‘We love the challenge of the racing – you can’t get better – and the scenery you sail past is amazing. Add that experience to the friendships and atmosphere you enjoy each year and you have the best possible regatta.’

Espresso Forte, a custom design from US-based Farr Yacht Design, is described by Freedman as a ‘high performance station wagon’ – it is fast enough to achieve good results on the race course, while still being sufficiently comfortable for extended  cruising. In fact, among the myriad of creature comforts the crew gets to enjoy when below deck is a cappuccino machine.

When it comes to performance, the swag of trophies Espresso Forte has collected over the years includes one for winning the Premier Cruising Division at Race Week in 2007, plus the second place trophy for the same division the previous year.

Freedman believes both his yacht and crew are capable of another big win this year, this time in the Performance Racing division, but only if one important outside influence comes into play: ‘We need the trade winds to blow,’ says the owner. ‘Light weather is no good for us.’

Trade wind or no trade wind this year, Freedman knows one thing for sure: he will be back for next year’s 30th anniversary edition of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012 is open to a wide spectrum of sailboats – from sport boats to cruising yachts, cruiser-racers and Grand Prix level keelboats, plus high-performance multihulls. 

All information relating to Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012 is on the regatta website – www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au. The Notice of Race and Entry Form are also on the site.

Luxury carmaker, Audi, returns as the title sponsor of Hamilton Island Race Week in 2012. The German premium brand will host a range of special events on the island for yacht owners and guests to enjoy during the week.

Pictured: Comfortable and quick: Laurence Freedman’s Farr 57, Espresso Forte, was the 150th entry for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012. The yacht will be out to take top honours for the second time in her division this year. (Image – Andrea Francolini/AUDI)

•    What it’s all about. The courses for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week are set on some of the most beautiful, island-laced tropical waters in the world. (Image Ciaran Handy/Hamilton Island)