Stakes raised as Airlie Beach Race Week approaches halfway mark

Day 3 at Whitsunday Sailing Club’s (WSC) 2020 Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays Festival of Sailing, and with racing to kick-off from 1030am this morning, competitors were looking forward to another day of decent sailing conditions, not dissimilar to yesterday.

Race Director, Ross Chisholm, reported this morning: “The general consensus is that there will be breeze in the Whitsunday Passage; around 15 knots. It will be lighter on Pioneer Bay for the start though. There’s a bit of cloud cover this morning, but it looks like it will burn off.

“It should be another nice day on the water for competitors,” he added, as competitors were reminded about the Covid-19 restrictions in place.

Chisholm is sending the IRC Passage, Multihull Racing and Performance Cruising Division 1 divisions on a course of approximately 26 nautical miles that takes in Pioneer Bay, Hannah Point, Denman Island White Rock and Bluff.


Performance Racing division is on a windward/leeward course, while Performance Cruising Division 2, Sports Boats, Trailable Yachts, Non-Spinnaker and Multihull Passage divisions are on a course of approximately 19 nautical miles. It will take in Pioneer Bay, Hannah Point, North Molle Island and Bluff.

Racing is set amid some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, with courses woven around the islands in the Whitsundays. And the sea life is abundant at this time of year too; as Humpback whales progress northwards with their young calves in tow.

And the stakes have been raised as the regatta reaches its halfway mark today. Just ask yesterday’s Multihull Passage winner, Peter Talbot on Robert Dean’s Cut Snake – and no, they are not as mad as Cut Snakes.

“We are out to win, but also out to enjoy ourselves. We’re mates and sailed the boat up from Brisbane together. We’re all amateurs. We’ve a pilot, a mechanic and two of us are retired and semi-retired,” Talbot said.

“We share helming and crewing duties – we want to win – but everyone has a go at everything on the boat. But we are also here to enjoy ourselves.

“We had a good day out on the Cut Snake, and it goes like one too,” Talbot commented laughing. “The boat sails well; it’s a Stealth 12 and she’s quick, but everyone gets a fair go in this division.”

On the day’s racing, Talbot said, “We got off the Pioneer Bay start well and led all the way around the course. We crossed the finish line around 45 mins ahead of the second boat (John Williams’ Tyee III from Victoria) and won overall as well. Conditions were marvellous.”

John Rae and Gary Smith topped the Performance Racing results yesterday with Vivace, a Bethwaite 79er and regular ABRW attendee. However, after winning Race 1 and scoring fourth place yesterday, Damian Suckling’s WSC entry, Top Gear is leading the division overall – on equal points with second placed Mister Magoo (Goggles, AKA Jason Ruckert).

On the Trailable Yachts course, Leon Weaver’s Highlander 25, Jakal, scored the win to take a two-point divisional lead from Ian Vonk’s Ross 780, Revival. Friday’s leader, the Ross 780, Lunasea (Thomas Jordan) has dropped to third, sharing nine points with three other boats in this close series.


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