High-flying, high-speed catamaran for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2016

By Rob Mundle

A high-speed hydrofoil catamaran from New Zealand will bring an exciting new dimension to the 33rd staging of Australia’s premier big-boat regatta, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, in August.

Auckland-based multihull enthusiast Simon Hull has confirmed he will be entering his high-flying GC32 catamaran, Vodafone32, in the Multihull Racing division. The GC32, designed by Germany’s Dr Martin Fisher, is seen as a stepping stone towards the America’s Cup style hydrofoil catamarans.

Simon Hull’s high-speed hydrofoil catamaran, Vodafone32, from New Zealand, will be a star attraction at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August. Image: Team Vodafone

Hull is no newcomer to Race Week, which will be staged from August 20 to 27. In 2012 he set the series alight with the performance of his 60ft ocean racing trimaran, Team Vodafone. Just last week he sailed that same boat at an average speed of more than 20 knots to claim line honours and an impressive race record time of 59 hours, 31 minutes in the 1180 nautical mile Auckland to Fiji race.

“Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is next on our agenda,” Hull said when he returned to Auckland this week. “We will be competing with the GC32 hydrofoil cat because the conditions in the Whitsundays should really suit her. Our best speed with the boat to date is 36.5 knots, so if we get good tradewind sailing and relatively smooth water around Hamilton Island during the week we should see similar numbers. We can get this boat up onto the foils in less than 10 knots of breeze.”

However, in the event of strong winds and rough seas, Vodafone32 will compete in a more conventional mode – with the hydrofoils retracted.

Hull said the transition from conventional multihull sailing to hydrofoils has been a steep learning curve. He and his crew have already experienced one spectacular, high-speed capsize.

“That was my fault,” he said ruefully. “We went out of control going into a manoeuvre at 33 knots because I fell over when running from one side of the boat to the other.”

As a safety precaution during Race Week, Race Director Denis Thompson will require Vodafone32 and any similar style of multihull to compete with a support boat in close proximity at all times.

Already 161 entries have been lodged for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2016, a figure that is well ahead of the previous record more than two months before the start of the regatta. The 150th entry received was the well-known 41-footer, Zoe, owned by Race Week regular, Wayne Millar, from Townsville.

Passage Racing round the islands at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week  Image: Andrea Francolini

Exciting tradewind racing, exceptional dockside camaraderie among competitors, and an unprecedented party agenda across the entire week combine to make Audi Hamilton Island Race Week unlike any other local or international regatta.

The Notice of Race and entry form for the 33rd staging of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week are now posted on the website, www.audihamiltonislandraceweek.com.au The regatta – Australia’s largest offshore sailing series – caters for a remarkably wide range of sailboats: from sportboats and trailables through to Grand Prix level keelboats, maxi yachts, cruising yachts of all sizes and configuration, and multihulls.  

Audi Australia returns as the naming right sponsor of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week for an incredible eleventh year. Throughout the past decade of partnership, Audi and Hamilton Island have worked hand-in-hand to create the most impressive sailing regatta in Australia, with even more activities on offer for sailors and onshore guests alike. This shared vision is based on a joint passion for winning performance, technological innovation and spirited competition.