With some top crews lined up, this year's Australian Hahn Premium Race Week promises hot competition

In just over eight weeks time, the sun will shine and the winds will blow as more than 1,800 sailors knuckle down for eight days of racing at Hahn Premium Race Week off Whitsunday Islands.

Based out of Hamilton Island Yacht Club, this event is regarded as one of the finest Offshore Race Regattas in the world. Held every August, about 170 yachts from Australia, New Zealand, America and Europe vie for line honours.

The 21st running of the Hahn Premium Race Week features five classes for competitive racing yachts and four classes for more leisurely racers. The Big Boats Class already has heavyweight entries from Down Under, including superstars like George Snow’s Brindabella and Matt Allen’s Farr 52 Ichi Ban – not to mention New Zealander Stewart Thwaites’s Zana, which was second across the line in the 2003 Rolex Sydney to Hobart late last year.

Admiral’s Cup champions Bob Oately and Colin O’Neil will also be racing in the regatta but this time not sailing together. Oately is aiming for his fourth champions trophy as he defends his title in the Admiral’s Cup-winning yacht, Wild Oats. O’Neil’s yacht Aftershock will present Wild Oats with a serious challenge after recently being turbo charged with the latest high performance keel technology.

Melinda Aldridge, reporting for yachtingworld.com, will be following all the action on and off the water throughout the regatta. She’ll also be competing in the IRC class aboard Geoff Pearson’s Iluka – a Northshore 369. It’s shaping up to be a war on the water when the fleet lines up for the first day of racing on Saturday, 21 August.