Sail ho! Audi Hamilton Island Race Week’s 30th anniversary

The international yachting event, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, celebrates 30 years on August 17-25.

Now the largest offshore regatta in Australia, this event has evolved over the past three decades into a spectacular display of on-water racing paired with the finest epicurean cuisine, exclusive fashion shows, flowing champagne and celebrity guests.

There is another worthwhile reason to celebrate this year – the 10th anniversary of the Oatley family’s custodianship of Hamilton Island.

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week’s beautiful Whitsundays’ courses attract sailing’s elite and caters for the full spectrum of keelboats from non-spinnaker cruising yachts through to grand prix-level racers. With more than 135 yachts already entered and dozens more expected in the coming weeks, the carnival is set to become the biggest and the best so far.

Keeping the sailors’ family and friends returning year after year and attracting travellers in search of a unique, winter getaway is the impressive, shore-side, social calendar.

The Charles-Heidsieck champagne lunch is new to the event. With a ”Hampton’s” dress theme, guests will dine on an exclusive menu by Qualia’s executive chef Alastair Waddell, matched with excellent Charles-Heidsieck wines.

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Another show-stopping highlight will be the Collette Dinnigan resort show and cocktail party; with Hamilton Island the only location outside of Paris that the internationally acclaimed fashion designer shows her collections.

The event celebrates the Oatley family’s achievements including multi-award-winning Qualia Resort which is the backdrop for the show and the notable 30th anniversary.

Audi ambassadors and iconic Australian chefs Matt Moran, Kylie Kwong and Shannon Bennett will present uniquegastronomic experiences. Matt Moran will create a beautiful ”Chiswick”-inspired garden dinner and Kylie Kwong’s wonderfully relaxed, ”dim sum-style” Australian-Chinese brunch will feature sustainable food principles including edible insects. Shannon Bennett will present ”30” – an unparalleled dining experience with cuisine by five chefs in their 30s. Bennett will be joined by past and present Vue de monde and Bistro Vue chefs including Cory Campbell, Jack Ingram, Josh Lewis and Darren Purchese.

Flawlessly suited to 30th celebrations are pearls; the traditional gift of a 30th anniversary. The Paspaley pearlpursuit and luncheon begins with an island-wide treasure hunt with clues and challenges to find a magic key. Only one key will open the master pearler’s box to reveal the Paspaley treasure within. A glorious, Alastair Waddell-lunch served at Pebble beach, Qualia, will follow.

Other not-to-be-missed culinary events include Jonathan Barthelmess, creator of The Apollo, Sydney, presenting his own unique blend of traditional, yet innovative, Mediterranean cuisine – a slice of Santorini by the beach; Hamilton Island’s own Adam Woodfield, executive chef at modern south-east Asian restaurant Coca Chu, willpresent a scrumptious yum cha lunch; the Wild Oats Wines ladies lunch will feature patissier extraordinaire Adriano Zumbo and his mastery of pastry, and the beef and reef dinner with the world’s fastest sailor, Paul Larson, is set to be a sell-out.

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Activities and events for all guests include the new Piper-Heidsieck champagne bar at Bommie Deck; Heineken bar happy hour daily at 7pm-8pm; beachside yoga; Eat Street food markets at the marina; sports challenges including the Audi vehicle tug of war and stand-up, paddle boarding relay races; the Paspaley boutique showcasing the exquisite, 20mm Paspaley pearl and twice-daily pearl discovery sessions, and the Henri Lloyd 50th birthday fashion display.

A raising of the flag ceremony and firework display at Hamilton Island Yacht Club will officially open the landmark event on Saturday, August 17; it will be led by Queensland minister for tourism, Jann Stuckey, Hamilton Island’s owner, Bob Oatley and Audi Australia’s managing director, Andrew Doyle.  Details: hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au