Race Week 2016 in review, Airlie Beach Race Week, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

For The Boat Works Extreme 40, the Queensland Season of Sail was a ripe with hot competition, repeated line honours and new recruits to multihull racing.

Against stiff competition from Frank Racing, Mad Max and Morticia, The Boat Works with its striking orange and silver hulls managed to pull off line honours in every race at Airlie Beach Race Week, with a mixed bag of trials and triumphs at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

Skipper Julian Griffiths attributes their success to “synergy between the crew and a bloody good boat”, while the hiccups at Hamo “were all part of learning about the new boat, which we’ve only had for six months”.

Owned by Tony Longhurst, The Boat Works Extreme 40 is the rebadged and modified SAP boat from the Extreme Sailing Series – which took out overall second in 2015.

Its characteristics include “thrilling speed, exhilaration and fast paced sailing”, according to Julian.

“Racing, you’re on the edge the whole time. Things happen so quickly, you rely on the team working together. It takes time to find your rhythm and once you do, and you’re up on one hull, there’s nothing like it.”

At Airlie Beach Race Week , The Boat Works managed line honours in every race except one, pipped by main rival, Frank RaciIMG_0157ng, by just 15 seconds. “Our ratings were quite high at Airlie, so we were surprised with third overall,” reports Julian.

Hamo was a different and disappointing story. “We had a gear failure in one race, then missed a change of course. Lesson learnt from that experience. We took out line honours against Frank Racing, then came second in the other races. In all, it was a great learning curve. We hadn’t sailed the boat over 18 knots and we got up to 24.5 knots at top speed. It was quite bumpy too, which is not ideal conditions for the boat.”

During Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island Race Weeks, guests, sponsors and some celebrities were given the chance to run “hot laps” on the Extreme 40.

“It was the opportunity to show people how much fun sailing on the Extreme 40 can be – it’s a blast! They see that it’s all about wind and strategy – they’re the tools you’re competing with.”

Guests included Ocean Magazine, Club Marine top dealers and CEO, Simon McLean, as well as legendary former Wallaby’s player, George Gregan, in a promotional team-up with Landrover Sports at Airlie, while at Hamilton Island, VIP crew included 7-time World Champion surfer, Layne Beachley and Kirk Pengilly of INXS fame.

Layne was characteristically confident on the water, and in the fading breeze, regretted that the Extreme 40 didn’t live up to its name on this occasion. “Considering it is called an Extreme 40, I was expecting it to be a lot more extreme. It was loads of fun and certainly not as scary as the Sydney to Hobart. Kirk and I absolutely loved the experience and look forward to spending a day on the boat racing with them next year.”

Layne was graphic in her recounting of her 2015 Sydney-Hobart experience aboard Perpetual Loyal, when it came second to Wild Oats XI.

“I was sick the whole way. After the Hobart experience, I realised that I am much better IN the water than ON the water!”

Simon McLean, Club Marine CEO raced with the team during the Hamilton Island regatta and enjoyed the Extreme 40 in full flight, an experience he relished.

“What an experience! Whilst my job was predominantly to hang on and stay out of the way, I had an absolute ball and Tony, Julian and the guys did a fantastic job all regatta.

“As a major sponsor of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week for the past 11 years, Club Marine is fortunate to have seen the event evolve into what is unquestionably a world class regatta that is simply unrivalled in Australia.  Outside of the obvious branding benefits, the event provides us with a great opportunity to get out on the water with our members and our business partners.”

Tony Longhurst who co-helmed The Boat Works over the events was effusive in his praise for the crew and for the organisers of Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island Race Weeks.

“They are great events, with so many different categories and boats, all with a chance of winning on handicap. For us with the Extreme 40, it was the first time we had raced in solid winds and we were amazed how fast and responsive the boat was. It was brilliant to be able to share a little bit of that that with our partners and guests.

“For me personally, it was a real eye opener to see how hard the team had to work to keep it at max speed all the time. We will definitely be back in 2017!” They are already looking ahead to several upcoming corporate sail days, followed by the 2016 St Helena’s Cup Race in early October, which involves around 100 multihulls, including the old Boat Works boat.

“We will be campaigning both, so it will be interesting to see how it goes on handicap, especially against other boats such as Frequent Flyer.”

Then there’s a surprise promotional appearance at the GC600 Super Cars in October, and dependant on the weather an opportunity in January for the Surf to City (Gold Coast to Brisbane) Race.