by Rob Mundle
It was only a few months before the inaugural edition of what is now Audi Hamilton Island Race Week was staged in 1984 that the then revolutionary 83ft maxi yacht, Condor, made the headlines locally and internationally by taking line honours in the Sydney Hobart race.
The maxi yacht Condor powers across the tropical waters of the Whitsunday Passage while contesting Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.
Now the big boat is back in the news – as the first entry for this year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, which has been confirmed for 19 to 27 August. Organisers are advising competitors that after lengthy discussions regarding a proposed date change for this year’s regatta it has been decided that the formula which has been in place for more than 20 years should remain. The traditional Audi Hamilton Island Race Week welcome parties will be held on Friday, 19 August and the first day of sailing is scheduled for the following day. The always entertaining trophy presentation dinner will be held on the evening of Saturday, 27 August following the final day of competition.
At the time of her launching in England, Condor was recognised as the world’s most technologically advanced ocean racing yacht: she was the largest of her type, built from Kevlar over a unique aluminium space-frame and boasted the tallest single-piece aluminium mast.
Following her Hobart race win in 1983 she claimed line honours a second time in 1986. During her Grand Prix racing life she was credited with being the only yacht to take line honours in all of the world’s major offshore events.
These days the grand old lady has retired into a more leisurely life as a charter yacht in Queensland’s tropical Whitsunday Islands region, and with the wonderful waters of the Whitsundays being the course area for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, it’s not surprising that Condor has made some impressive appearances at the regatta in recent times.
In last year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, Condor grabbed the limelight by having four likeable larrikins from the outback mining town of Mt Isa in the crew, and this year the yacht’s owner, Dave Molloy, has got the jump on everyone by having Condor registered as the first entry for the big event.
Last year the ‘Four Amigos’, as they became known, formed Mt Isa Cruising Yacht Club over a few beers in a pub 600 kilometres from the sea, then, while having zero sailing experience, turned up at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2010 looking to compete – because they wanted to ‘start at the top’. By the end of the regatta they’d done every race aboard Condor and somehow managed to bob up at just about every social function during the week.
They were interviewed on Race Week Radio, made headlines in the national media and had a jingle written about them. Additionally, their front-man and club ‘commodore’, Greg Fietz, decided to impress everyone at home by having his photo taken with international television star Dannii Minogue and her new baby, plus many of the attractive models who were on the island for the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week fashion parades.
His reasoning for this effort was simple: ‘In Mt Isa the ratio of men to women is seven-to-one, so to land a good one you have to stand out.'
Already, this far in advance of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2011, Condor has been joined by five other yachts as entries for the regatta. They come from Victoria, NSW and Queensland and will be part of a fleet expected to top 200.
Hamilton Island Race Week’s naming rights sponsor, Audi, is Australia’s largest corporate sponsor of yachting.
The Notice of Race, including the entry form, has been posted on the regatta website –