Airlie Beach Race Week – crews ready to face starters orders

Sixty boats across eight classes are set to line up when the start gun fires from the Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC) official start vessel the for the first time this Friday to send the fleet on the first race for the 2020 Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays Festival of Sailing.

Boats of all kinds from Australia wide and some from overseas usually take part in this much anticipated Race Week in Queensland, the first of the northern circuit of regattas held annually. And despite the CoronaVirus, and the Queensland border being closed to her southern neighbours, numbers have exceeded all expectations.

“We’re thrilled to see the numbers and calibre of entries the 32nd running of Airlie Beach Race Week. Entries were still filtering in yesterday,” Race Director, Ross Chisholm said.

Chisholm also stressed that the welfare of competitors, volunteers and officials was paramount and that comprehensive COVID Safe procedures had been put in place. Onshore events have been scaled down to involve no more than 150 guests each night at the Club.

“By limiting numbers in attendance at club presentations and dinners we can ensure social distancing and keep everyone safe,” he ended.

Competitors are also excited to get back on the race track for some serious competition, the first for a while now. The week will kick off with a mass start for the opening race day, meaning all classes will start at the same time, from 10am, weather dependant.

It will make for a stunning sight as some of Australia’s best offshore racing yachts line up and race with the fast multihulls, sports boats, cruisers and trailable yachts in the beautiful Whitsunday Islands.

John Fowell, owner of Anka’s Away, a Ross 780 Mk2, commented, “We sailed this boat for the first time at last years’ Airlie Beach Race Week and are looking forward to another fun filled week with hopefully a better result.”

“The year before we won with my previous boat, First Born. This time I’m hoping the boat is better set up and we get a better result. We have three other Ross boats to race against, so we’re calling it the ‘Ross Intergalactic title’.

Fowell went on to say, “The boys that now own Revival (Ian Vonk and co.) used to own Anka’s Away. We definitely want to beat them. There is a point to prove there, especially as that boat is a Ross 780Mk3.”

Fowell and his crew are entered in the Trailable Yachts division and amongst their quarry is last year’s winner, Masquerade, a Masrm 750 owned by Tom Vujasinovic. However, it was a close series with just one point separating the top three.

Airlie Beach Race Week registration will take place on Thursday 6 August, with the event coming to a conclusion on Thursday 13 August, when winners will be announced early in the evening.

Spectators wanting to follow racing on the water, can do so from the stable deck of ‘Sundowner’, the official spectator cruise vessel which has seating for 40 people and an on board bar. Step on board for a glass of bubbles and pastries as part of the package. All bookings in advance to: phone: (07) 4948 3000. 

Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays Festival of Sailing is the region’s premier sporting and community event.

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For full information and to make social bookings, please visit:   

By Di Pearson/ABRW media

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