Heart and soul

With the 14th SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week set for September, sailors such as Donna Dewhurst define the underlying value of the event.

12 May 2021


Townsville sailor Donna Dewhurst is elated about the opportunity to compete in her tenth SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW).

“This will be my eighth with my boat Soul Sister,” she adds.

Dewhurst, along with her all-female crew of both experienced and opportune sailors, is a familiar sight at the event, recognised for the choice of eclectic outfits and vibrant dancing.

“The costumes idea started with Instant Karma – they would do funny quirky things – like wear big, sparkly sunglasses,” Donhurst explains.

“The next year they sewed poppies onto purple shirts. Life’s too short, so I decided I would do something quirky – we have a dress up bag. It’s just grown.”

Moving into its 14th edition, this year’s SMIRW, scheduled for 2–8 September and organised by the Townsville Yacht Club, defines the elasticity of Australia’s sailing community post-COVID. An axiom evident in the success regattas have had over the last three months.


But while the return of regattas act as an exciting mark on calendars, it equally represents the significance these events can have for their community.   

Dewhurst began sailing as a 12-year-old in her home of Townsville, but a decade ago, she was a self-described full-time mother who didn’t have the time. The idea of competing wasn’t even something she considered until she had a chance introduction to the owner of Instant Karma, then entered for Magnetic Island.

“I thought it was about time I did some sailing again,” she says, adding that she “had a bloody ball”.

“I forgot how much I loved sailing. You reignite yourself and reunite with old friends.” 

This restart for sailing culminated in purchasing a Hunter 310, christened as Soul Sister – Dewhurst choosing the name from the 2009 eponymous song by San Fransisco band Train. A melody that both encapsulates and manifested her feeling of owning and sailing a yacht.

Now entering her eighth SMIRW, Soul Sister is set to compete in Division 4 of the SeaLink Spinnaker Class – the same race that includes Constellaton’s Jessie Goodheart, Helena May’s Lynda Sawbridge, Infarrction’s Carol Roberts and Akarana’s Vicki Hamilton.

“I love the fact that I can give other women the opportunity to believe in themselves. We work as a tight team to support each other,” says Dewhurst, later adding.

“It makes you slow down and smell the sea air, makes you appreciate the weather, location, friends – and give you time to reflect.”




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