Winds arrive and ORMA 60 makes it two from two

Despite a forecast for more light winds at the Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays Festival of Sailing today, the winds Gods changed tack and gave the 64 boats and crews a run for their money in the Whitsunday Sailing Club’s (WSC) annual event.


Dale Mitchell skippered the ORMA 60, which goes by that name, to a second win in the Multihull Racing division, after claiming the spoils in yesterday’s opening race. The ORMA 60 is making her Australian racing debut at Airlie Beach Race Week and is making her mark already.

Mitchell said the boat was recently purchased out of New Zealand and with a crew, he sailed it back to Queensland. The Whitsunday Sailing Club member said the crew of ten is pleased with the boat’s performance at Airlie Beach.


“The crew has mainly grown up sailing together, with the bulk from Airlie Beach,” he said. On mainsheet is his brother, Paul, who claimed the Australian Multihull Championship title with Ullman Sails at ABRW last year. Aaron Linton is calling tactics.

“Today was much better,” Mitchell said. “When we left the mooring, it was lighter than yesterday. The committee put an AP up ashore, but when we did start, around 11am, it was blowing around 10 knots. Then we found 15 knots in the Molles.

“Racing was fantastic – a good enjoyable race at full power around the race track. We did 30 knots (of boat speed) on the way home. We are pretty stoked with how we’ve been going.”

ORMA 60’s rival, the Extreme 40, Back in Black (Michel Van Der Zwaard), finished second today is currently second overall.

“Back in Black is really hot competition for us. They were in front of us yesterday in the light air, but we were able to slip away from them at one point and worked hard to stay in front,” Mitchell recounted.

ORMA 60 was not the only boat to win two in a row. Ray Roberts (Team Hollywood) also capitalised on yesterday’s win in the Rating Passage Series. And although Barry Cuneo’s TP52, Envy Scooters applied pressure to the Botin 40 from Sydney, the Queensland entry came off second best. Graham Sherring completed the podium with Desperado, an Atkinson 24 from Southport.

Racing is tight in Performance Cruising Division 2, where David Lewis and crew aboard Curlew have taken the division lead following a win from Ian Griffiths’ Witchy Woman (Qld) today.

Lewis and his Northshore 340 yacht are new to Airlie Beach Race Week. “We’re pretty pleased with ourselves,” he admitted.

Talking conditions, Lewis said, “It was good steady weather for the bigger boats to show their stuff. It was overcast, but not raining at least, and when we got to the Molle Channel it was around 15 knots. It faded to 7-10 knots later.”

Lewis said most of the boats in his division “rate quicker than us, so they got away. But we managed to overtake Obsession later. Also, I got a bit cheeky at the start and went over early and had to re-start.”

“The handicapping is pretty good here though. Yesterday the first boats were within four minutes on corrected time after seven hours of racing.”

Lewis added, “I was brought up in Proserpine, but live in Hervey Bay, so it’s good to come back to the area for ABRW.”


Performance Cruising Division 1’s race was won by ABRW regular, Eureka II (Mal Robertson, Qld), with another regular, Condor (David Molloy, Qld) second. Non-Spinnaker went to Tom Parker’s Tayana 55, Aquatarius (Qld), with Sunrise, Michael McCarthy’s Elan 37, in second place. Full results in all divisions can be found on the official website.

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