Whitsunday sailor Rupert King is the 100th entrant to the 2019 Airlie Beach Race Week, with his performance cruiser Overdrive.
Deciding he was “over” driving, the former truck driver built the Richard Edlin-designed 10.6 metre trimaran after falling in love with her sistership.
“I was working in a boat yard in Auckland when I saw the first one and I decided on the spot that was the boat I wanted,” he said. “It was a labour of love – three years in a shed – but it just ticks all the boxes. It’s a good all-rounder, a nice size, comfortable and solidly offshore capable.”
After testing that offshore capability by sailing Overdrive across the Tasman Sea, King arrived in the Whitsundays in 2005 and quickly joined the Whitsunday Sailing Club.
“I’ve raced with the club pretty consistently since,” he said.
“I do almost all the Twilight races but these days I spend most weekends sailing off the beach because I’ve now got a son who’s equally keen on sailing and is coming up through the ranks.”
Now aged 11, King’s son Joshua has sailed on Overdrive in practically every Airlie Beach Race Week since he was born.
The pair are joined as often as possible by King’s partner, Darlene Reid, making it a family affair.
This year the Overdrive crew will compete in the OMR Division, described by King as one of the deciding factors in signing up.
“Splitting the Multihull division made it more attractive to us because it means we’re going to be racing against boats of our own ilk instead of competing with the Formula 40’s and the TF10’s, which we wouldn’t have a chance against,” he said.
“At least this way we’ll be in a division with other boats that have leather upholstery and hot showers!”
Asked what else he was looking forward to about the upcoming Festival of Sailing from August 8-15, King picked the atmosphere.
“The racing is serious but so’s the enjoyment factor and really, what’s not to like about a week sailing in the Whitsundays,” he said.
Race Director, Ross Chisholm, said King was a fitting 100th entry and he encouraged anyone who hadn’t already registered to follow suit.
“The Early Bird entry discount ends on July 31, and it’s well worth taking advantage of,” he said. “We certainly want to make a call out to anyone who hasn’t entered yet – particularly the locals.
“There’s a few people out there who leave it to the last minute every year and we can’t complete our documentation and set the divisions until we know who’s in.”
Reaching 100 entries two weeks from the start gun isn’t the only thing Chisholm is celebrating this week.
The Festival of Sailing and its host club, Whitsunday Sailing Club, were also winners at the weekend’s Australian Sailing Queensland Sailing Awards.
Club sailor, Hamish Swain, won Youth Male Sailor of the Year, Gayleen Lowe was a finalist for Volunteer of the Year, and Airlie Beach Race Week Event Chairman, Adrian Bram, was awarded 2019 Sport Promoter of the Year.
Describing himself as honoured by the accolade, Bram also paid tribute to everyone involved with the Club and Race Week.
“This is my fifth year of building Airlie Beach Race Week into what it’s become, which is the Whitsundays’ largest and most significant sporting and community event,” he said.
“It’s fantastic to see those efforts recognised but it’s not just me – there’s a team of dedicated and specialised people who make an event of this stature happen.”
Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer, Tash Wheeler, said the 2019 Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing was shaping up to be another fantastic year, with a huge program of onshore entertainment hosted by the Whitsunday Sailing Club as well as a day and night at Northerlies Beach Bar and Grill.
“One of the fantastic things about this destination event is that you don’t have to be a sailor to enjoy the fun – everyone is welcome,” she said.
Entries, Notice of Race and all regatta information can be found at: www.abrw.com.au.
By Sharon Smallwood, ABRW media