Airlie Beach Race Week – Light on for breeze again today

Sixty four boats are taking part in the 2020 Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays Festival of Sailing and faced the unusual situation of little to no breeze on a foggy and rainy day in the beautiful Whitsundays yesterday, but there were happy campers in the end, when some found 6-7 knots of breeze late in the shortened race.


Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC) officials had to think outside the box when they were faced with near non-existent breeze early in the day. They persevered and thankfully yachties got what they came for – a good race, albeit a slow one.

Rob Davis sailed Treasure VIII to a massive 23 minute win over Daniel Farmer’s B52 in Performance Cruising Division 1. Being local paid dividends, according to Davis, who hails from WSC, while B52 represents Southport Yacht Club on the Gold Coast.

“Very light, foggy and very drizzly for half the day. It was very much a small boat day. It was hard to get across the line. It was a drift over the line, and if you were lucky you might get a whisper,” Davis recalled.

“Our plan was to get out to meet the change of tide, which went out around 12.30pm near the Cones. Only half a knot there at times, but we found some breeze around 1.30, 2pm.

“When the breeze freshened to 6 and 7 knots eventually, with the tide behind us, it all worked nicely. When we looked around, we realised we had crossed the line first and then won on handicap as well. We had some of the sports boats and trailable yachts around us, but most of our division was stuck back in Pioneer Bay.

“Our handicap will be punished now,” Davis, a local, bemoaned. “But it was great that they started the race and then shortened when they did. It was good to get a race in. We were lucky to get underway at 11am.

“Our hope is to stay up in the rankings if it’s light again today,” Davis ended.


To that end, Race Director Ross Chisholm said, “Another very light day is on the cards today. I’ve got people on the water monitoring conditions, and it’s likely we’ll postpone ashore.

“Conditions willing, we plan on sending the Rating Passage, Performance Cruising Division 1 and Multihull Racing divisions on Course 27 around the Molle Islands and return. The remaining divisions will do Course 29 to Daydream Island return.

And while Treasure VIII took out Division 1 of Performance Cruising, Robert Holmes was the winner in Division 2 with ‘Good Vibes’. Holmes and crew overcame a challenge from a regular on the podium, Craig Piccinelli’s Wobbly Boot, defeating the latter by little more than a minute. Both represent WSC.

Locals benefitted in the Non-Spinnaker division too, with John Galloway’s QMS coming out on top, scoring a win over another local, Peter Harrison’s Awesome, which has taken home a trophy or two from this event in the past.

On the Multihull Passage course, John Williams’ Tyee III from Sandringham in Victoria came out on top. Tyee III left Victoria well before the Coronavirus spread in the state, joining others from Melbourne and Sydney who were not at home when the lockdowns occurred.


Tight controls are in place at WSC, which is strictly adhering to health regulations created by the Covid 19 virus.

Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays Festival of Sailing is the region’s premier sporting and community event.

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By Di Pearson/ABRW media