Airlie Beach Race Week: Two days left to make a difference

The Whitsunday Sailing Club’s Airlie Beach Race Week (ABRW) continued today, with multiple classes and a record 178 entries where some pointscores are becoming clear and others are so close they are tied on points.

Trailable Yachts

Graham Turner ‘s Fareast 28R (Qld) with prominent skiff designer, Julian Bethwaite aboard, was leading the charge in Division 1, following two wins. However, as things sometimes happen, they placed 14th today and dropped to fourth place. Sandor Tornai, who was waiting in the wings with his Skeeter, which happens to be a Bethwaite design, has taken the lead with a five-point buffer to Walter Hogg’s Sardine.

Skeeter also leads the Qld Championship – from Vivace (John Rae Gary Smith). Division 1 contains a vast array of go-fast designs. With 20 boats racing, is one of the most competitive fleets at Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing.

Division 2

Renee Cordingly at the helm of Bella Amore - Shirley Wodson, ABRW pic
Renee Cordingly at the helm of Bella Amore – Shirley Wodson, ABRW pic

Renee Cordingly placed second overall in the Trailable division against sports boats and trailables last year, the two divisions combined due to low numbers because of Covid: “Last year was our first Race Week. We had to come back and try to beat them and to try and better our second,” said Cordingly, who hails from Home Hill near Townsville.

“It was very light and frustrating on the course today. They delayed the start as we sat in a big hole, then just as we started, the wind went round and we ended up with a downwind start! Once the breeze came in, it stayed in that general direction. We ended up doing only one beat and the rest were spinnaker runs. It was quite pleasant.

“We saw whales from the start. We weren’t far from them. As we motored away to the start they were out in the channel breaching.”

Cirrus and Black Sheep are our main threats for the win and for the Queensland Championship (being held in conjunction with ABRW).” Cirrus leads the Championship from Bella Amore.

“Apart from the sailing Airlie Beach is a great social event. I’m a mum of two (11 and 7 year-olds) and my husband sails with me. I steer and he calls tactics. My mum minds the children all week, so it’s bliss to get away for this week of sailing.”

Wetas line up for a start - Shirley Wodson, ABRW pic
Wetas line up for a start – Shirley Wodson, ABRW pic


Up to and including Race 7 today, Ryan McVey (The Other Office) continues to lead the Weta trimaran class from Joanne Chetwynd (Three Amigos). McVey’s father, Todd McVey (Charter 1) is in third place after each competitor dropped their worst result.

“I’ve sailed a Weta maybe five times, but this is only my third on this boat. They put a big smile on my face,” Ryan says.

Todd McVey on the course - Shirley Wodson, ABRW pic
Todd McVey on the course – Shirley Wodson, ABRW pic

Dad, Todd, is rubbing his hands in glee, knowing his larger frame will come in handy tomorrow when the forecast is for more breeze. He still might beat me, he might not…”

These cute 4.4 trimarans are raced by one or two people and all entries hail from Lake Cootharaba Sailing Club in Boreen, Queensland. And they look like fun.

Your World of Travel - pic courtesy James McDonald
Your World of Travel – pic courtesy James McDonald


Six races away with two days of racing remaining and James McDonald (Your World of Travel, Vic) leads the F16/F18 series by two points from Beau White (Goodall Design, NSW), with Darren Flanagan (Sasha, Tas) in third, a further three points away.

McDonald described their regatta so far: “First race on the first day we knocked it out of the park. Before it lightened off, we were well in front and we finished in front. Our next race we were on a short course and you have to be spot on. Your crew work has to be just right to do well.

“Today was a long day and a long race. We did the 27nm triangle Bay Race. The Extreme 40s and M32s (multihulls) are the only boats that will beat us around a longer course like this. The F18s are good for this type of racing,” said McDonald, who has won three of six races sailed. After today’s sixth race, he and Coe threw out a worst result of third.

“We’re not that fussed whether we do short, or long course racing, as long as there’s wind. We’re from Frankston Yacht Club in Victoria and Australian Air Safaris helped get us up here – it costs a bit in fuel and travel.

“This is our first Airlie Beach Race Week and it’s a family outing for us. We both have our wives here; they’ve been out and about enjoying themselves. Today they went to Whitehaven on a friend’s cat.

“Race Week’s been great – the effort put in by committee and volunteers has been amazing. We’ve really enjoyed the racing – we need to have more bigger open events like this. The social aspect here is really good too,” McDonald said.

The two are easy to pick on the course, as Coe explains: “We wear colourful rashies that look like a rainbow. They’re recyclable plastic made by Ocean Art.”

Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing is being held from 11 to 18 August. It is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and is a feature on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.

Full results and all information on Airlie Beach Race Week, please visit:

By Di Pearson/ABRW media

Race Yachts
West Systems
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M.O.S.S Australia
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West Systems