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Those who decide to sail on ‘Merit’ for Hamilton Island Race Week never forget the excitement, the skill building and the camaraderie that comes together during those days of racing. But the adventure starts a couple of days beforehand when everyone steps onboard for their two days of training.


Why two days?


Isn’t it just a matter of getting familiar with the boat?


As it happens, there’s far more to dive into than just a tour below decks and a casual “here’s where the sail ties are kept”. The beauty is that everyone who sails with us, whether a complete novice or with enough experience to fuel a few tall stories at the club, picks up some “well, you learn something new everyday!” moments.


We thought a summary here would help, as before booking it can be tricky to imagine the reality of sailing onboard a Volvo Ocean 60.

Get an idea of what to expect when you sign up to race on 'Merit' for Hamilton Island Race Week.

Hamilton Island Race Week on ‘Merit’: training day 1


First things first: you’ll need to book a flight that arrives the day before your first training day, because they come in the afternoon and we get started first thing in the morning.


“Who’s who”

Introductions, of course, and a rundown on everyone’s background and experience. This helps Michael work out the best role for each person on the boat. And while health info is personal, it makes sense to let us know if there’s anything that would affect your performance. We’ll never forget the guy we had on the grinders who kind-of-forgot to tell us he had a heart condition. “You’re killin’ me!” he said. Turns out he had a fabulous week … once we put him in a less demanding position 😉


Also, you don’t have to have sailing experience. But it also helps to let us know that. Otherwise you could find yourself on a steep learning curve like the irrepressible “call me Gadget Man” who was assigned to the bow … he definitely learned fast when it comes to flying a spinnaker!

Let us know a little about your experience and fitness so that you can enjoy the best role for your abilities onboard 'Merit' in Hamilton Island Race Week. "Gadget Man" learned fast (and had a blast!).
We’ll never forget the lovely Elle of The Moreton Group who found her perfect role flipping between hydraulics and moving “like a puma” to go get snacks for everyone onboard.

Wind from one side, sails on the other.


Yeah, if you’ve sailed at all you’d know this. But it never hurts to make sure everyone “gets it”. Because it also means we can make sure everyone knows where the boom is and where it’s going to be when the wind changes.


On day one, you’ll go through a safety brief, get a look over the vessel, and then we’ll head out for a bit of practice hoisting sails, tacking, and gybing. It’s a great opportunity to feel how the boat moves and get comfortable working with the rest of the crew.


You’ll enjoy the instruments at the mast; when you trim the headsail or tweak the main, you can see how it affects the boat’s performance right away. 

Hamilton Island Race Week on ‘Merit’: training day 2


Spinnakers, baby! This is where we get to put the kite up and run through the true teamwork of getting it back down and packed in good time. We start the day with a bit of windward work to give us plenty of space for a few good runs and gybes. A quick drop and packing of the kite before a bit of lunch and a rinse and repeat, just to iron out any mistakes we made the first time round.


That’s it, we’re ready to front up to the start line and show the big boys how it’s done. Remember, everybody will be watching since you’re actually the one on the big boat. No problem.

Trimming the spinnaker - practice on Day 2 of training for Hamilton Island Race Week on 'Merit'.

But when do we get a beer?

After the finish line (and, okay, after training’s done on those days). We keep ‘Merit’ a dry boat while we’re racing because it’d just be plain dangerous to run things any other way. 


We’ll make sure there’s an esky on the dock, ice nearby and once the boat’s tied up there’s loads of time to hang out in the cockpit.

Okay I’m in. How do I get onboard?

Go check out the HIRW info page, click the ‘book now’ button to leave your details, and we’ll give you a call to make sure everything’s in place.