My gig at Elite Traveler offers me ample opportunity to explore many of my personal passions, but while the glimmer of the recent U.S. team’s America’s Cup victory is still vibrant, I can happily report on two particularly apropos adventures I recently had that beautifully blended some of my favorite things: fine watches, luxury cars and outstanding sailing. While I didn’t make it to San Francisco for the Cup races, I did get a little wind-time in, and in a very memorable and satisfying way.
Head of the Harbor
Late in the summer, I wound my superb test-drive Jaguar XKR convertible (get more details on the XKR in the November/December issue) up to Marblehead, Mass., to cover the Panerai Classic Yacht Challenge races at the Corinthian Yacht Club.
Marblehead is as gorgeous and iconic a New England harbor town as you’ll find, and I know this well since I grew up in and around there.
The regatta benefitted the growing Sailing Heals organization (www.sailingheals.org), which dedicates itself to matching up yacht owners and patients struggling with serious illness with the simple and noble goal of providing a much-needed “day-off” for patients and their care-givers sailing on the water.
The healing energy for the patients is obvious, but the participating sailors I spoke with at the host yacht club (as well as at other participants at Marblehead’s Boston Yacht Club and Eastern Yacht Club) were positively beaming when they told me about their experiences with the charity.
If, like many yachtsmen, you’re just itching for a good excuse to get out on the water, check out the website.
A harbor full of gorgeous vintage racers (including the 1970-vintage 12-meter Valiant, rehabbed NY50 vessel Spartan and the overall winner, Black Watch, a classic yawl circa 1938), some terrific wind conditions in Boston Harbor and the proud U.S. public debut of Panerai’s stunning Regatta timepiece presented by Panerai President Rafael Alvarez made for a memorable long weekend, to be sure.
Next, I enjoyed some of the new additions to Qantas’ excellent business class service (get more details in our November/December issue) on my way to the gorgeous and remote setting of Hamilton Island in Australia’s Whitsunday Islands for the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week (a sailing event nearly as popular as the legendary Sydney Hobart Yacht Race).
As I was whisked to my villa at Qualia, one of Oz’s top luxury resorts, in a sleek Audi A7 sedan, I was struck by this gateway to the Barrier Reef’s charm; a favorite port of high-end Aussie boaters, it’s a kind of St. Barts of the Pacific Rim.
In addition to Qualia (again, see the November/December issue for more on that resort’s stunning top accommodation), the island is home to several family-friendly resorts, a plethora of multimillion-dollar homes, a winning Peter Thomson-designed golf course and clubhouse on its own private island in the bay and a small but state-of-the-art marina and harbor village – all the vision of Australian vintner Bob Oatley who has spent upwards of $350 million on reinventing the island.
The Audi races combined several classes of vessels, from vintage schooners that looked almost like pirate ships to state-of-the-art ocean racers like Oatley’s own Wild Oats and the overall IRC winner, Hooligan.
For my activities at sea, I proudly test-wore a Corum Admiral’s Cup 48 chronograph, which came in quite handy for logging start time lags in the relatively calm winds that pushed the clumps of boats around Hamilton Harbor.
But, one of the great things about sailing is that if the wind isn’t so demanding, the scene back at the harbor bars just gets better!