Warm Northerlies welcome for Airlie Beach Race Week

Whatever direction the wind is blowing on Tuesday, August 13, Northerlies will be the flavour of the month for sailors competing in Airlie Beach Race Week.

Renowned locally as one of the Whitsundays’ premier venues for food, beverages, service and views, Northerlies Beach Bar and Grill is expanding on its popular events program to host the Festival of Sailing’s only off-site presentation night.

Embracing the sailing fraternity and local community, the event will also incorporate the inaugural Airlie Beach Race Week ‘Family Fun Day’.

Venue Manager, Brad Henstock, said this would epitomise what Northerlies and Airlie Beach Race Week stood for.

“Airlie Beach Race Week and the Whitsunday Sailing Club are such an integral part of the Whitsundays – and for us to be a part of that is what we’re all about,” he said. “We’re not just a business – our philosophy is that this is a community space – we welcome everyone like family, and we hope that everyone leaves with a smile on their face.”

With its landscaped gardens and beachfront incorporating palm trees from the sets of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Northerlies is a fitting venue for nautical crews.

Describing it as “an island resort on the mainland”, Race Week Marketing Director, Adrian Bram, said these were events guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on all attendees.

“I think everyone who comes here goes away with amazing memories and I just know that once the yachties see this place they’ll agree,” he said. “For all of us on the Race Week team, this is about getting the event further out into the community, sharing the success with other venues and making it even more exciting for the entrants.”

Event chairman and new Race Director, Ross Chisholm (following the resignation of Denis Thompson for medical reasons), said this was the sort of experience gifted to sailors at those events. He speaks from his wide experience as Race Director for a number of Asian regattas.

“A lot of our competitors sail the Asian circuit and know how good it can be so we’re going to prove that Airlie Beach can do it just as well,” he said.

Joking that hosting a Race Week event was his boss’s way of keeping him at work for the week instead of on the water, Mr Henstock reiterated there would also be plenty on offer for non-sailing folk.

“We’ll have games and activities for the kids and basically we’ll entertain them while Mum and Dad sit down, enjoy the beach, have a few drinks and relax,” he said. “We’ll have an outdoor live broadcast from Triple M starting from 10am and from there we’ll slowly build up to the sailors’ arrival and presentation time.”

Thanks to the support of Whitsundays 2 Everywhere, nine coaches will run back-to-back, moving as many as 800 Race Week crew and volunteers over an hour-and-a-half at both ends of the night.

Along with transport, an hour of food and beverages from 5.30-6.30pm will be complimentary for Race Week competitors, officials and volunteers.

The Northerlies shuttle bus will cater to the local community, also free of charge.

All the action will take place at Northerlies’ newly opened ‘Village’ featuring the Nakamal Pavilion, Moon Bar, Smokehouse, and American style smoker ‘Happy Grillmore’.

Live music will be courtesy of an Airlie Beach ‘All Stars’ band comprising local musician legends.

Sailors wanting to stay off their boat can book into the nautical cabins at the venue’s accommodation hub ‘Freedom Shores’.

Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer, Tash Wheeler, said the event at Northerlies would be a fantastic showcase for both Airlie Beach Race Week and the Whitsundays.

“Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing is a significant destination event bringing close to 1000 people to the region and injecting around $6 million into the local economy, so it’s a great opportunity when collaborations like this can occur,” she said.

Airlie Beach Race Week is supported by the Queensland Government, via Tourism and Events Queensland’s Destination Events Program and features on the It’s Live! In Queensland events calendar, worth $800 million to the state’s economy in 2019.

For entry, Notice of Race and all information on the regatta from August 8-15, visit: www.abrw.com.au.       

By Sharon Smallwood, ABRW media

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