Port Douglas Race Week

Thanks to Jane Rye for this Riddoch Insurance Port Douglas Race Week 2024 Wrap Up. Don’t forget to send us your regatta reports to promote your event and its sponsors -Steve

After weeks of rain and considerable winds leading up to this year’s regatta, Port Douglas turned on the charm to welcome competitors from Cairns and Townsville, to our beautiful waters for the 2024 Riddoch Insurance Port Douglas Race Week.

The Port Douglas regatta has been known to host up to 30 boats, welcoming sailors from all around the coast of Australia. This year, after the unfortunate cancellation of the 2023 regatta due to unforeseen circumstances, an intimate fleet of 8 boats over two divisions, were welcomed to kickstart the rebirth of the regatta.

The race week committee were thrilled to see the entries of Cairns and Townsville skippers, John Pool, Frank and Wendy Brace and James Permezel, all of which returned this year after partaking in many previous Port Douglas regattas. Also joining the fleet were local sailors, Peter Chapman, Carl Barnett and Brett Wright, as well as Doug Ryan and Graeme Lordan who sailed under the PDYC banner.

Day one set the tone for the rest of the week with some perfect winds of 20-25 knots. The fleet were to complete 2 Windward-Leeward races, in the waters off the tip of Flagstaff Hill where Layaleeta and Shazam each claimed a first place in division one and Adios and WindSwell each a first in division three. A great start to the regatta with first place overall for the day, in division one, Charm Offensive and division three, WindSwell.

Day two was the passage race. In previous years, this race typically sees the fleet head for Snapper Island, before making their way around Low Isles and back to the finish line. However, the decision was made by race directors to reverse the course due to the weather.

Typical for the passage race, a small squall appeared, as the fleet sailed through the Penguin Channel between Cape Kimberly and Snapper Island. This caused the fleet to have to perform numerous tacks, to make their way to their final mark.

Charm Offensive took line honours for division one, however local Skipper Barnett, was lucky enough to be the only boat in the fleet to completely miss the squall and take one straight line to the top mark. This saved Barnett a great amount of time in tacks, and secured Casuarina’s win for the day in division one.

Division three saw skipper Wright, sail his Nacra 36R through to take line honours and first place for the day respectively.

Day three took the fleet back to day one with another two Windward-Leeward races. With winds very much similar to the first day of racing, skippers and crews had a decent idea of what to expect. Reflecting back to day one’s races, certainly helped crews when discussing their race tactics for the day.

Although the same course, the race results for day three proved slightly different from that of day one with Time Out and Shazam taking a first each for division one. However, claiming a third and a second in each race, Cairns boat Layaleeta, shot to the top of the leader board to take first overall.

Division three, yet again saw each multihull take a first place with Adios coming out on top.

Day four, the final day on the water. It seemed as though the luck seen throughout the week with the weather, may have been turning. With a strong wind warning declared, sailors set out to get a feel for the wind and make a decision on whether to reef their mains, or race with full sails.

As the fleet sat in the waters off Flagstaff Hill, Adios, Layaleeta, Allora and Shazam, all made the decision to reduce the size of their mains for this race, with WindSwell, Time Out, Charm Offensive and Casuarina deciding to keep their full main.

With the strong winds reducing through the morning, officials made the decision for the race to go ahead and sent the boats out for a diamond course. With yet another great race start, the fleet were off on their final race of the regatta, with the first mark set windward of the start line. Perhaps the more difficult of all the races, both physically with the winds and mentally with a triangle/sausage formation around the buoys that has been known to confuse the sailors.

Early into the race, feeling as though he could benefit more from a full sail, Ryan removed his reef in Shazam’s main, while other yachts stuck with their guts, and kept their reduced sails. Meanwhile, a devastating blow for Nacra, WindSwell, and crew of two, as their main couldn’t take the pressure of the strong winds, and the fleet saw an unfortunate sight of a torn main.

With Adios’s lead after the third day of racing, and a DNF for WindSwell, Lordan and crew were secured their win for the regatta.

With a nice early finish to the last day of sailing, the boats birthed together shared some stories, from who pushed who off the start line, to guessing and checking race results and handicaps, while sipping on some cold, hard earnt beverages, and took the chance to take in, what was a fantastic regatta.

Coming out on top for four of the six races, and winning his second Port Douglas Race Week regatta, Adios, skippered by Graeme Lordan with PDYC, was our division three winner. WindSwell, skippered by local businessman, Brett Wright, followed in second place.

Division one, after some relatively mixed results each day of the week, saw local skipper Carl Barnett and crew, take the win. In second place, Cairns skipper John Pool on Layaleeta, followed by Townsville skipper James Permezel on Charm Offensive in third.

An incredible result, with Barnett, the most shocked of all, to receive his first Clipper Cup win.

The race week committee would like to give special thanks to a few key persons, whom without, this year’s race week would not have gone ahead.

The events naming right sponsor, Riddoch Insurance. Enough cannot be said about the generosity and support we receive from Emily and Bob in this and past/future race weeks. We look forward to their continued partnership.

Greg Sinclair and Jenni Birdsall, our race directors for the week. These two must be commended for their responsibilities with all on water decisions. The committee were thrilled to hear so much positive feedback from crews about the race directors.

Gallagher Thomson, our buoy laying boat/skipper, who stepped up to not only single handedly lay and collect all the buoys for the regatta, but also spend each day as our media boat. We are incredibly lucky to have his constant support.

Staff and volunteers from PDYC. An event like this takes a lot of great people, and the Port Douglas Yacht Club certainly has some of the best. The committee thanks you all for your efforts and hope to see you involved in the next regatta.

We now look forward to the 2025 regatta, with dates already set for 13th – 17th of May.

From the 2024 Riddoch Insurance Port Douglas Race Week Committee, Thankyou to all those involved in a great regatta, and we look forward to seeing you all next year!


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