Hamilton Island Yacht Club and pool

Hamilton Island, Australia’s Sailing Nirvana

Written by: George Ristich
Date: 21st February 2014

Hamilton Island, located off Australia’s Queensland coast on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef and in the heart of the beautiful Whitsundays, has a long and rich sailing history; a history which is about to intensify since Hamilton Island Yacht Club became the official 35th Challenger of the America’s Cup.

This announcement, which put Australia back into the ring after an absence of over a decade, was followed by the news that the owner of Hamilton Island – Australian winemaker and sailing legend Bob Oatley AO – had appointed America’s Cup veteran, the legendary Iain Murray AM, to lead the Australian team.

Here are a few facts that illustrate both Hamilton Island Yacht Club’s and Bob Oatley’s pedigree and qualifications in the world of sailing.


The sailing Mecca of the Whitsundays

Audi Hamilton Island race WeekSince Captain Cook charted Australia’s coastline in the 1700’s, the Whitsunday Islands have been recognised as one of the best sailing playgrounds in the world. From a sunny day trip on the reef to a week-long luxury yacht charter, sailing is the best way to explore the Whitsunday’s 74 tranquil islands. With a choice of bareboat yachting, skippered catamaran cruising and fully crewed motor yacht charters, there’s a tailor-made boating experience to suit every sailor.

And, Hamilton Island is the perfect base from which to explore this region. The Island is home to Sunsail, whose Whitsundays Sailing School offers novice and intermediate learn-to-sail courses. These fully comprehensive sailing courses are designed to cater for every level of ability and experience. Covering the basics of boat handling through to advanced sailing skills to gain internationally recognised RYA (Royal Yachting Association) and YA (Yachting Australia) professional qualifications. Sunsail also offers sailing trips and holidays as well as yacht charter.

Hamilton Island Yacht Club was built in 2009. Designed by renowned Australian architect Walter Barda, the iconic Hamilton Island Yacht Club is a destination for those who appreciate international boating excellence. Inspired by the rich colours of the Coral Sea and the soaring silhouette of full sails, the Yacht Club is the home of sailing in the Whitsundays. There are 205 berths, all well protected in the case of bad weather and with access to first-class marina facilities.

Sailing, it’s in our blood


Bob Oatley was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in this year’s (2104) Australia Day honours for his distinguished services to the Australian wine and tourism industries, to the sport of yacht racing and to the community as a supporter of medical research and visual arts organisations.

Bob’s passion for sailing brought him to Hamilton Island in the late eighties. He fell in love with the Island and the Whitsundays and, ten years ago (2003) when the opportunity to buy the Island arose, he took it.

Bob’s yacht, Wild Oats XI, recently won the prestigious Rolex Sydney to Hobart race for a record equalling seventh time. He already has his eye on next year’s race.

Sandy Oatley, Bob’s son, is also an avid sailor and is Executive Chairman of Hamilton Island. He manages the Oatley family’s businesses, which include its wine operations.

Nicky Tindill nee Oatley, Bob’s granddaughter and Hamilton Island’s Special Events and Product Development Manager, is responsible for running leading events such as Audi Hamilton Island Race Week (see below). Married to Troy Tindill, a crew member onboard Wild Oats XI for the latest Sydney to Hobart race, she spends most weekends on her father’s yacht, Andiamo, on Sydney Harbour.

Glenn Bourke, Hamilton Island’s CEO, also has impressive sailing credentials – he has won seven World Championships, has competed in both the America’s and Admiral’s Cups, was Laser World Champion three times and was twice named Australian Yachtsman of the year.

Iain Murray is one of the world’s most lauded and respected yachtsmen. He has competed in three America’s Cups over the years including Australia’s victorious 1983 win.

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

SPINNAKERS at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2013 - Hamilton Island, Queensland (AUS) 23 August 2013 ph. Andrea Francolini/AUDIHamilton Island is renowned as a stunning year-round holiday destination, home of qualia, a multi award winning, five star luxury resort and host to one of the Southern Hemisphere’s most prestigious annual sporting events, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

Visitors flock to Australia’s largest offshore yachting regatta for a spectacular display of on-water racing paired with the finest epicurean cuisine, exclusive fashion shows, flowing champagne and celebrity guests. Graced by the crème de la crème of Australian society, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week has previously attracted the likes of Naomi Watts, Dannii Minogue and Kathy Lette.

Likened to ‘Ascot on water’, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week’s beautiful Whitsundays courses attract sailing’s elite catering for the full spectrum of keelboats from non-spinnaker cruising yachts through to Grand Prix level racers. This year’s event will take place from from 16th to 23rd August 2014.


Hamilton Island is located off the Queensland coast of Australia, within the Whitsunday Islands at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. Here visitors can experience everything that is great about Australia – natural landscapes, calm turquoise waters, secluded beaches, beautiful weather, fascinating coral reefs, diverse flora and fauna. Hamilton Island offers a wide range of accommodation options, not to mention over 60 activities and all within a short direct flight from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Cairns. There are also great connections from other Australian cities. www.hamiltonisland.com.au www.facebook.com/hamiltonisland

Media contacts and image library: www.hamiltonisland.com.au/media-centre/

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