Airlie Beach Race Week – Tight racing on windward/leeward courses

Racing on Day 5 at Airlie Beach Race Week (ABRW) started later than the planned 10am, as competitors and officials alike again waited for a constant light breeze to fill in – and their patience was rewarded – shortly after midday racing was underway on a spectacular sunny day in the Whitsundays.

Since a Day 1 you could  not beat for ideal conditions, the 35th running of Whitsunday Sailing Club’s (WSC) annual event has been challenging because of lack of wind and breeze from every which way, stabilising – or not.


Following a further three races today, on windward/leeward courses and a drop coming into play, Division 1 has been taken over by Terry O’Brien’s The Stig (NSW) by one point to Peter Hackett’s Full Bore (Qld). John Dowling’s Endorfin (Qld), though, won Race 5, while Race 6 went to Tony Murray’s F-One-Eleven and Race 7 to The Stig. 

“I’ve rebuilt the boat. New mast, new boom, new spinnaker pole, new sails. I finished all my upgrades about one minute after the start of Race 1! Unfortunately we didn’t quite understand the main halyard locking system and it all came crashing down. We’re still learning how to sail it,” said Terry O’Brien of his Farrier F-9RX.

“Gary Saxby helped me design the rig and he’s been very helpful in the mast and centreboard build and making the boat go fast. I’m really enjoying the boat and having my wife Caroline racing with me.

“The boat goes well in heavy air because of the larger floats. I came here last year before I upgraded it and we’re going to come back every year now. It’s a great place to race multihulls.”

O’Brien shared, “Peter Hackett is my greatest competition and my mate. He’s my benchmark. If you can beat him, you’re having a good day.”

Hackett commented: “We’re just glad we got out there and were able to get races in. It was close, a lot of boats had to dodge each other and we also had to get through the dead spots. There was a warship on windward mark, so the mark had to be moved. An interesting day.

The Queenslander said he preferred the first day of ABRW: “We had a lot of wind and cleared out. It’s been light on since. It’s hard for the big boats like Rogntudjuuu  (a Crowther 57) and Coconuts (a Stealth 12) to sail round the windward/leewards, but easier for us smaller boats. 

Laughing, Hackett said, “The biggest puff of wind today was 8 knots – when they opened the windows on the warship.”

The Queenslander has been slogging it out with local, G’Nome (Terry Archer) which led yesterday and The Stig. “Terry just built a carbon mast and put new sails on (The Stig), so he’s hard to beat.”

Hackett was full of praise for his Full Bore crew: “I have a regular guy, Dave Wood who is my sheethand, then there’s a couple of old Sharpie mates; Greg Nickerson and John Casey.”

Hackett has an interesting boat, a Farrier F9R: “It’s 29 years old and the interior is Nomex to keep the weight down, built from Boeing 737 off-cuts. The outside is carbon. It was knocked around, so I’ve spent a couple of years doing it up for racing and cruising.”

Weta trimarans

Wee Tri, Andy Duffield (Qld), leads the Wetas from last year’s winner, Ryan McVey after eight races, including three of them today when a drop comes into play. The quietly spoken Duffield has a rather large seven point lead with four wins in his pocket and only a day of racing remaining.

Extraordinarily, Duffield confessed, “I haven’t sailed the Weta for two years. I sold my boat and I borrowed it to be here.”

Of his ABRW to-date, the Queensland sailor said, “I’m happy, apart from the swim on had on the first day. That cost me; because I was leading!” Fortunately, that result, a seventh from the 10 boats competing, has been utilised as a drop.

“The competition’s been good,” Duffield said after victories in races 7 and 8. Meanwhile, Todd McVey was pleased after winning Race 6, the first of the day. McVey, sailing Getting Weta, has moved up to sixth overall.

Tomorrow is the final day of racing and is due to start from 10am – weather permitting.

Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and is a feature on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.

For full results in all classes, photos, video and more, please visit:

By Di Pearson/ABRW media

Further media information:

Di Pearson, media director, phone: 0410 792 131

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