Airlie Beach update

Airlie Beach Race Week is well underway, with impressive results already rolling through from multiple divisions.

15 August 2022


Following an hour’s delay in racing at Airlie Beach Race Week (ABRW) as officials waited for the breeze to fill in, Ray Roberts and his team Hollywood (NSW) added a further win to their Day 1 victory to take command of IRC/ORC Division 1 of the Whitsunday Sailing Club’s 34th regatta.

The Botin 40 leads the division after two days of racing. Anthony Kirke’s newly purchased Enterprise Next Gen (WA) and Gordon Ketelbey’s Zen (NSW) are second and third respectively.

“I am very happy to have both wins,” Roberts said.

“The boat is well prepared and is going well. The crew is a little underprepared as we haven’t been sailing much because of COVID.

“Having to race against TP52’s really tests us. We have to sail pretty well to get in front of them on handicap. We thought we’d started early today.


“We went back and re-started, so I thought we did well to win. I’m putting our tactician David Chapman on the bow from Tuesday – the two boats ahead of us were over early and we thought we were, but I’m not so sure.”

Roberts said he hasn’t been able to size up the competition yet.

“I don’t have my head around who’s better. I only know you have to get tide right and today’s tide was tricky.

“Boats approached it differently; some went well, some didn’t. You have to keep your mind on the wind and the current, make the best choices regarding the tide.

“There’s no time to relax, you have to give it your full concentration, do that and it will put you in a good position. At least there wasn’t wind against tide today, which makes it ever harder.”

Hollywood has been competing at Airlie Beach for years.

“The sailing here is fantastic as usual, with wonderful courses. When you finish racing and look around you and see the islands, the colour of water and nature, you really appreciate it.

“I enjoy it because the weather is warmer. It’s helping me get over my Covid. I caught it at Grafton of all places. Today is the first day I felt good to sail. I didn’t feel I was sailing the boat well, until today, when it all clicked.”

The Division 2 leader is Garry Holt with his tricked-up Adams 10, Get It On (QLD). They placed second in the opening race and won today, to lead Peter Chappell’s The Cadillac (WA) and Ken Douglas’ The Red Boat (VIC).

“It’s fantastic being here, it’s a great location,” said Holt.

“It’s my first Airlie Beach Race Week, but I know it was founded by Don Algie. I taught him to sail in 1972 and he’s a good friend.

“I bought my boat 18 months ago and I’ve updated it for IRC and ORC, added a carbon rig and boom, etc.

“We’re the current Queensland IRC and ORC champions and won it against the likes of Spiesy (Michael Spies) on Maritimo.”

On leading Division 2 at ABRW, Holt says, “You don’t expect to win, but I have an extremely good crew.”

The crew includes skiff and big boat sailor, Warwick Rooklyn as sailing master. Other crew includes Doug McGain, Marcus Burke, Adrian Dunphy and Don McPhee.

“All Sydney boys,” Holt noted.

Stephen Leonard’s Sea Dragon, which normally does duty as a charter yacht, won today’s Multihull Passage race and leads the series on countback to yesterday’s leader, Storm Bay (Marc Gerard).

“I’m shocked – I didn’t know we’d won – and if I had known we’d won, I’m still shocked,” said Leonard.

“This is my charter boat, I just tricked it up and bought good sailing friends up from Gosford Sailing Club. They’re my usual team on the Adams 10 we usually sail.

“I said to the guys ‘let’s have a bit of a giggle and bring Sea Dragon up.’

“I put a new headsail on it and changed the propellor. I’m amazed we are doing so well. We’ve got more races to go, so don’t know if we can sustain it.”

“We had a bad start, but we got a good lift at the Molles and then had a good run down to Pioneer Bay, we cracked 11 knots.

“That doesn’t happen often because the boat weighs 8 tonnes. When we finish here, the boat goes back to charter.”

The Gosford sailor said it would be hard going from the tea and biscuits and occasional champagne and beer they have on the boat, back to the wet Adams 10, with no comforts.

Tomorrow is lay day at Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing and already crews from the record 178 competing boats are back at the Whitsunday Sailing Club awaiting the prize giving and enjoying entertainment from the All Stars with Emma Pask, with the Mason Rack Band up next.

Earlier today, those who were smart enough to book early, partook of the legendary Long Lunch.

Gleny Wilson, a regular volunteer over a long period, said, “We had a fabulous five course seafood lunch with wines to match.”

Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing is being held from 11 to 18 August. It’s supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and is a feature on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.

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