Airlie delight

Another successful Airlie Beach Race Week comes to an end.

Written by Di Pearson

17 August 2018


Whitsunday Sailing Club’s 30th Anniversary Airlie Beach Race Week surpassed expectations – anyone would be hard put to remember better weather at a regatta, accentuated by the variety of winds, courses and the sunny days. 

At the top end, winds reached 25 knots with gusts – and at the lower end, 7-9 knots and lovely fluent trade winds – competitors were spoilt for choice. 

The IRC Passage series was hard fought all the way between Ray ‘Hollywood’ Roberts’ Botin 40, Team Hollywood, and the two TP52s; Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban and Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan. 

Ichi Ban won the final race by seven seconds over Hooligan to claim the series from the latter by three points. Team Hollywood placed third after a race drop came into play. Roberts lost out, as he dropped a third place; the TP52s dropped a seventh and eighth respectively. 


Allen, the President of Australian Sailing, said he enjoyed the regatta as a whole. “A variety of courses, tactical races, flat water, a friendly and relaxed attitude – it’s what we’ve come to expect from Airlie Beach Race Week – and catching up with old friends,” he said.

Of facing Hooligan for the first time, Allen said, “It was a great hit-out. The characteristics of the two boats are similar with minor differences. Ours has offshore capabilities; Marcus’ is an inshore boat. It’s gratifying knowing that you can have a boat that can do both.

“Today wasn’t the most tactical on the Bay, more of a reaching up and down race,” he said.   

Standout performances came from the crews of local Whitsunday’s sailor Paul Mitchell on Ullman Sails in Multihull Racing, Queenslander John Fowell with First Born in Trailable Yachts, and newcomer Matt Doyle (NSW) in Cruising Non-Spinnaker with La Troisieme Mitemps. 

Another first-timer, Philip Bell’s Olson 40, She (Qld), won Division 3 from Paul Woodman’s Summer Wind (Vic). This pointscore see-sawed all week.   

John Rae and Gary Smith’s Bethwaite 79er, Vivace was too good for the rest, winning five of the nine races in the in the Sports Boats, to claim that trophy from fellow Queenslander, Situation Normal (Jamie and Barry Berndt).

John Williams lifted from third overall last year to win Multihull Passage with Tyee III, his Catana 431. The well-known Victorian yachtsman swapped monohulls for multis a few years back and seems he’s good in both categories.

Don Algie, founder and former sponsor of Airlie Beach Race Week with Hogs Breath Cafe, presented the Boss Hog trophy to Condor skipper, Dave Molloy. Condor, which took line honours in the 1983 and 1986 Hobarts, has been a great supporter of Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing for the past 10 years.

Ross Chisholm, Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing Event Chairman said, “A fantastic week of sailing with a quality fleet and a real mixture of conditions made everyone happy. It meant the best performing boats were at the top of each division list.

“To finish, I’d like to thank all the volunteers that make the event the success it is. Many have been coming for so many years, they are part of the Airlie Beach family. Finally, I’d like to thank the staff at Whitsunday Sailing Club – they work tirelessly before and through the week.”

Crews were again complimentary of Abell Point Marina which berths most competitors’ boats. “Nothing was too much trouble – they went out of their way to help us – hasn’t it grown,” were the common catch cries.

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