Considering it was just a matter of months ago that the island was decimated by Cyclone Debbie, Hamilton Island has risen like a Phoenix from the ashes.

In an extraordinary tribute to the Oatley family – who own the glorious island – the atoll has shown amazing resilience, managing to hold what really is regarded as the premier sailing and on-shore social regatta of the year.

As the country’s most coveted lifestyle event, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, hit the sandy shores all week with competitive sailing and an exceptional line-up of social events set against the picturesque backdrop of the Great Barrier Reef. Pretty much close to heaven, I reckon.

Fine stripes, white sandshoes, breezy hair, lots of white and cashmere knits was the style du jour while the perfect black dresses made their way into glamorous race week evenings.

Hamilton Island’s CEO, Olympic and world champion sailor, Glenn Bourke, said that the support for this year’s event will be seen as a huge ‘thank you’ to the island’s 1200 staff.

“One of our first priorities after we emerged into the outside world and saw the carnage the cyclone had wreaked with its 260kph winds was to establish goals,” Bourke said, “and one of the highest on the list was for us to be ready for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.”

There was much buzz about Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, having made a sneaky entrance to the isle but Our Mary has more important homeland issues to attend – like getting her youngest children – twins Princess Josephine and Prince Vincent, 6, off to school. Instead the island had Crown Prince Frederik, who happily steered Wild Oats X to many great days of sailing while the real socialising went on back on terra firma.

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week really is the week that stops, well, it stops many sailors in their tracks and a has slew of socialites and media faces being made to feel very, very special.

There are dinners and lunches that are open to everyone with the likes of Piper-Heidsieck, Wild Oats and Paspaley hosting; there are sunset drinks at the Yacht Club and dinner after dinner finely curated by Australia’s best chefs including Shannon Bennett, Matt Moran, Matt Stone, Guillaume Brahimi, Kylie Kwong and Andrew McConnell.

Basically, it’s a week of fashion, culinary highs and that little thing called sailing happening in the middle of it all. And Vogue, of course, was there.

As soon as we arrived on the isle – Qantas has just signed on as a major sponsor of the week so they hosted an early morning in the QF lounge – we were whooshed to our Qualia villas. I mean, you just don’t want to leave your digs when you hit your slice of hotel paradise.

A quick unpack and it was to Paspaley Pearls, who hosted a chic soirée on a boat to see the latest pearl collection, ‘Rockpool’, designed under the extraordinary creative eye of Christine Salter. The pieces haven’t even been ‘officially’ unveiled yet – that’s not until October. Fortunately, anyone on the isle is able to visit a specially set up Paspaley suite. I mean, who wouldn’t want to pick up a pearl or three to take home with you after your race week sojourn?

Next up, it was back to my exquisite Qualia villa for a quick change for dinner. I got stuck (ha!) next to the simply delightful Richard Roxburgh (an Audi ambassador) as my dining companion who, refreshingly, has not one iota of interest in social media.

“I’m more a reading type of guy,” he told me as we munched into an African-inspired dinner created by Matt Moran.

Why an African theme? Well, designer Collette Dinnigan had been put in charge of the ‘feel’ and ‘design’ of the night and she decided on an Under the Crescent Moon vibe.

To brighten the night, Collette concocted a game of bingo. Yup. A room full of dinner guests as Lisa Wilkinson and Richard Roxburgh called out the numbers made for an interesting after-dinner game.

Richard also told me he is just about to spend seven weeks living in Tuscany with his family which includes his divine chef wife Silvia Colloca and three kids, and has just been working on writing the third season of his hit ABC series, Rake. Just a little bit busy.

Next day, we all had a great afternoon on the serious leisure boat, Quantum, so we could actually watch some sailing – hello Prince Fred! – then it was time to hit the main street of the island for a quiet wander.

This year, This Is Beard Season’s Jimmy Niggles had set up free skin cancer checks, for anyone on the island. It was a sensational initiative: I had one – and got the all-clear. Seriously, what a great idea considering skin cancer is the most common cancer in Australia. And you know how much we love our sun.

It was time to get back to our villa for a quick change and to a very chic dinner to unveil the latest Audi ambassador – the simply gorgeous Hacksaw Ridge actress Teresa Palmer – in the Long Pavilion of Qualia.

A seriously sensational dinner created by Andrew McConnell sent our taste buds into a frenzy while Audi ambassadors like Roxburgh, Collette and Matt Moran also joined in while we could view an exhibit of Audi nostalgia portraits.

Next morning it was up and at it as Qantas hosted an amazing breakfast – listen to this – on the helipad of Qualia before some guests got to take the latest Audi Q5 for a spin. I mean, you just couldn’t make this stuff up!

This year there seemed to be a tonne of TV journalists in the isle, including Lisa Wilkinson, Melissa Doyle and Sandra Sully, the trio putting network rivalry aside and hanging out to check out the on-water action.

Some of the chic and fashion-minded faces I caught up with included Zac and Jordan Stenmark, Nadia Fairfax and Nicole Warne (aka Gary Pepper Girl) while Francesca Packer, US model Jessica LaRusso, Lyssa Morris and the heavenly Nicky Oatley were all in for a week of chic, culinary and fashion fun.

And the week’s finale? (Okay, apart from all that sailing going on.) The week culminates with the annual White Luncheon on the sands of Pebble Beach at Qualia on Friday followed by dinner, designed by Shannon Bennett, in a jetty setting and under the Hammo Island stars.

Yes. Race Week is pretty much my idea of social heaven.

And we’ll be back . . . for as long as they keep having us!

Melissa Hoyer was a guest of Audi at Hamilton Island Race Week.

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