Airlie Beach Race Week: Living on a knife edge

Day 5 at Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing hosted by Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC) and the forecast was not good for racing – barely a breath of wind on a glassed out Pioneer Bay, forcing PRO, Denis Thompson to raise the AP at 8.30am.

Thompson held the fleet and officials ashore and hoped by 10.30am to deliver better news, but no, and no again at 12pm, finally at 1pm, racing was cancelled: “The breeze is not consistent enough for the whole fleet,” Thompson said.

In the meantime, we talked to the front runner in the Trailable Yachts class; Luke Mairs and Dan Townsend (Sticky Fingers) are living on a knife edge. They currently lead the division, but are on equal points with last year’s winner, Mister Magoo (Goggles Ruckert, Qld).

Problem is, Sticky Fingers is at her best in 15 plus knots of wind, but the PRO is saying light to nothing for the next two days. One move the wrong way and it’s all over.

“We want to go racing, but it’s a challenge in light air,” concedes Mairs, despite the fact most of the regatta has been sailed in just that and they are still leading.

How do you overcome Goggles? “I think we continue sailing our best and not think about him or anyone else.” 

“I think it helps that Dan and I sail Lasers against each other at Whitsunday Sailing Club. So I drive Sticky Fingers and he calls tactics – it works – it’s a good combination,” says Mairs who is competing at Airlie Beach Race Week for the third time while Townsend is ticking off his 10th

And even though the boat is no light weather glamour, Mairs is not surprised to be at the top of the leaderboard: “We’re just sailing really well.

“Our key advantage is Dan’s local knowledge. Our third crew, Scarlet, usually works on super yachts, but she’s here travelling and she’s doing a great job too.”

Mairs and Townsend’s weapon of choice is a VX-One. It means one-design, one rig, one set of sails etc. so while other competitors can make sail and rig choices, they cannot.

“We just look more carefully at rig settings, tuning etc. Andrew York sails a VX-One (the national and state champion is here from Sydney with a REO 7.2, REO Speedwagon in Performance Division 2)  also and he’s been  helping us,” acknowledges Mairs, who finished fifth in the Sports Boat division here last year.   

Tonight, the funk rock band, Gypsy Soldiers, will keep the troops entertained at Whitsunday Sailing Club. All are welcome.

For full results go to:     

By Di Pearson, ABRW media


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