by Rob Mundle
A yacht bearing the name of one of the most famous clipper ships in international maritime history, Flying Cloud, has become the 100th entry for the 30th Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, which is scheduled for August 17 to 24.
Flying Cloud (Howard Piggott) - (Image - Andrea Francolini) lr
Owned by the commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Howard Piggott, Flying Cloud’s entry was lodged just seconds ahead of another entry from the same club, the cruising yacht Leeward, skippered by John Quinn.
Since then the rate of entries has accelerated rapidly: the fleet already exceeds 120 and is continuing to grow – a trend which Race Director Denis Thompson says, ‘confirms the status of this regatta on the Australian sailing scene. The numbers are impressive and most encouraging.’
This will be Howard Piggott’s fifth Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, a regatta which he sees as the best possible launching pad for the approaching summer season of sailing.
‘The timing is perfect, and the regatta itself is unsurpassed in Australia,’ Piggott said. ‘The adventure starts for us with the Sydney to Gold Coast race at the end of July, then, from there, it becomes a leisurely cruise into the tropics and on to Hamilton Island for Race Week. That’s the real reward: superb hospitality, ideal sailing conditions, and lots of fun.’
Piggott bought his yacht – a Beneteau First 40 – four years ago and named her in honour of the famous clipper ship, Flying Cloud, a 71-metre square-rigger built in Boston, USA, in 1851. As a young boy, Piggott had a picture of the classic sailing ship hanging on his bedroom wall, and remembers his father often regaling him with stories of the vessel’s remarkable achievements.
The most notable of these came in 1854 when Flying Cloud set a record of 89 days for the 16,000 mile voyage from New York to San Francisco via Cape Horn, a record that stood for 135 years. She also sailed the clipper route to Australia and New Zealand.
The cross-section of entries received so far for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is certainly broad. The largest yacht on the list so far is the superbly restored 21.8-metre classic staysail ketch, Sir Thomas Sopwith, owned by Di and David Edwards, from Sydney, while the smallest is the 6.2-metre high-performance SB20, Jump, sailed by Dennis Winstanley, from Hamilton Island.
Luxury carmaker, Audi, returns as the title sponsor of Hamilton Island Race Week in 2013. The German premium brand will host a range of special events on the island for yacht owners and guests to enjoy during the week.
More at www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au