Will conditions play ball at all on Day 4?

Day 4 of Airlie Beach Race Week (ABRW) after competitors made the most of lay day yesterday, sightseeing and shopping locally, or on adventures further afoot, returning this morning to find organisers at Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC) had displayed AP ashore with a 9.45am advising, “No breeze on the race course.”

Organisers broadcast a further update competitors at 10.45am – no change, they said, Kevin Wilson adding, “Due to tidal restrictions, a final decision will be made at 11.30am as to whether any racing can be held.”

At 11.30am, the decision was made to abandon racing for the day, with the exception of the Trailable Yachts & Sports Boats, Extreme 40s, F16/18s and the Weta Trimarans, when a further decision will be made at 12.30pm.

It is an otherwise beautiful day in the Whitsundays; blue sunny skies, but crews are keen to go racing, as all but IRC/ORCi Division 1, Weta Trimarans, F16/F18 and Extreme 40 divisions were cancelled on Sunday due to an ultra-light unsettled breeze.

SAILING – Airlie beach race week 2023
Ph. Andrea Francolini

Leading Performance Cruising Division 1 coming into Day 4 is Mal Robertson with Eureka II, a modified Sydney 60 design. Behind them by two points is Graham Matthews’ Equilibrium all the way from New Zealand, with Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire (NSW), skippered by Ian McDiarmid in third.

“Absolutely happy with the results so far,” he said of their three races to-date. “It’s been the right winds for us and the crew are working really well as a team. A lot are students from Whitsunday Sailing School (which Robertson owns and runs) on their first time racing at Race Week. It’s great, every year I get to introduce new people to Race Week.”

Eureka II has been based here in Airlie Beach since 2005 after a life at major racing events on the east coast of Australia. “And this is my 33rd year here competing,” Robertson said.

For today, should racing get underway, he says, “As long as we can get up to 8-10 knots…”

David Boekmann, owner of Division 2 leader, Bombolo (NSW), “Very exciting – half a point lead and no wind!” Seachelle 2 (Peter Warren, Tas) is their rival. “We need 10-15 knots to get going. She weighs around 2 ton,” he says of his Beneteau Oceanis 46.1 cruiser/racer.

“This is our first Airlie Beach Race Week. It’s been great, although Sunday was a bit light on for wind. It’s been fun though. Airlie is a great little town. There’s lots to see and do.”

Division 3 shows the Sydney 38, named 38 (Qld) out in front. Greg Tobin’s boat is two points ahead of Stephen Green’s Joint Venture (Qld), with Kevin Fogarty’s local boat, Twister, a further two points away.

“We’re having a good time. It’s all working well. We have the lovely sailmaker, Ox (Ian) Davies aboard. He’s been a great help. He made our sails and is giving us good advice on trim. It’s a bit of an all-round boat, we’ve had it12 months. It’s our first time here with it,” a pleased Tobin, who has contest around 15 ABRW’s commented.

“I haven’t had a yacht for six or seven years, so I’m back into it. I love sailing in this region and it’s good experience. We’re pretty chilled out. Everyone’s in a good frame of mind. “

Division 4 is still in the hands of local, Craig Piccinelli’s Wobbly Boot: “I’m local, I was here for the first Airlie Beach Race Week and done nearly all of them since. The first race was great, with a good breeze. And the next day was light, but a good race round the Molles in 10 knots, Perfect sailing,” Piccinelli said.

“If we sail another three races, anyone could still win the division. We might have peaked a bit early,” Piccinelli said with a laugh. “The forecast is looking the same as the last two days. Even when it’s light it’s not boring, though. There are whales breaching right in front of us on the course and there is always fishing…”

Grant Ford’s Fordplay (Tas) continues to lead the PHS Non-Spinnaker Cruising. Three points behind is John Cable’s Shiraz, with a further point to Jane Chidgey’s D’Accord (Qld) and Greg Davis’ Hot Chilli, the two locked on seven points each.

Performance Racing

Smooth Criminal, Leo Rodriguez leads David Suttie’s Lockdown (NSW) on countback, so it’s on! Road Runner (Paul Heyes, NSW) and local boat Reignition (Charles Walls) a local, are on equal points too, two behind the leading pair.

“We’ve had some really competitive racing,” said Rodriguez who is also Commodore of WSC. “A couple of Melges boats (Rock ‘n Roll and Lockdown) have been keeping us honest, along with the usual suspects like Reignition and Road Runner. well.

“The Camaraderie is always good here and the competition race hard but fairly. Light winds favour this boat and other lighter boats – last year we missed out by one point! I hope we get more racing in today,” Rodriguez concluded.

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

For full results in all classes, please visit: www.abrw.com.au

By Di Pearson/ABRW media