14th June 2017
The upcoming Audi Hamilton Island Race Week will see two of the best known supermaxis in offshore sailing vie for top honours. After spending almost a decade racing on opposite sides of the world, this year’s race week will see them compete under Australian colours for the very first time.
The Brisbane yachtsman Peter Harburg recently acquired Black Jack 100 and plans to challenge the famous Wild Oats XI in the racing series held on Hamilton Island 19-26 August. In an ironic twist of fate, the two 30m yachts began life as near-identical twins with both having been designed by Reichel-Pugh and built in 2005 in Sydney at the McConaghy Boats facility.
Originally named Alfa Romeo and owned by Sydney-based New Zealander Neville Crichton, Black Jack 100 was beaten by Wild Oats XI in the Sydney to Hobart in 2005. Returning in 2009, Alfa Romeo (now Black Jack 100) was first at the finish. Crichton then sold the supermaxi to a European owner who renamed it Esimit Europa II where it achieved success in the Mediterranean.
Earlier this year Peter Harburg purchased the yacht and shipped it to McConaghy's for upgrades. He intends to warm up for the Hamilton showdown at July’s Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race before heading to Hamilton Island to contest Race Week.
The crew believe Hamilton Island Race Week will be an important part of their preparation for the Hobart race later this year. Having assembled a strong crew which includes an Olympic gold medallist and America’s Cup winner, Black Jack 100 looks to give Wild Oats XI a run for her money.
Of course it’s not only the clash of these ocean racing titans that will be a highlight of Race Week. Competition is also strong among the ‘minis’ and multihulls with 140 yachts already entered and more than 20 multihulls entered to date. The competition is filling up fast and so too is Hamilton Island accommodation, so get in quick if you plan on being on Hamilton Island to take part in all the Race Week festivities.