Mass exodus

Despite COVID-19 outbreaks, the Whitsunday Sailing Club is expecting a record number of competitors at next month’s Airlie Beach Race Week.

14 July 2021


While COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc throughout parts of Australia, officials and members of the Whitsunday Sailing Club are confident that an expected record number of competitors will arrive at the 33rd Airlie Beach Race Week, scheduled for 12–19 August.

“So far, we have a record 156 boats entered, and some of the inter-staters are already in town. We remain hopeful that the current situation will not end up restricting those who are in lockdown at present,” said Event Chairman Ross Chisholm.

One such competitor is Royal Geelong Yacht Club’s Commodore John Kint, who will race in the 53-strong Cruising Division.

“We are free from lockdown and itching to go racing again,” said Kint, who first discovered the joys of Airlie Beach Race Week in 1994. “We came back in 2016, 2017 and 2018, so this will be our fourth. Coming back has something to do with the people – and the sunshine.”


“I had it built especially; it went into my back yard in 1987 and did its first ocean race in 1988,” Kint adds, speaking of his 17.4-metre, Adams/Radford-designed Bundaberg. The same yacht he’s used in the Sydney and Melbourne Hobarts, amongst other offshore races.

“Three of us will sail the boat up. At present, our first stop will be Yeppoon, as NSW is in lockdown. We’re very buoyant and upbeat. Our crew is dying to get to Airlie. We have 18 crew that will be used in rotation – that’s how keen we all are to go.”

John and Kim Clinton are two of the lucky Sydney escapees racing in the Cruising Division. “We’re very lucky because we left Sydney at the end of May. We had a booking at Gold Coast City Marina to have a rig check and the antifouling done. We always go there; they are good in every sense,” John explains.

The Clintons and their Beneteau Oceanis 523, Holy Cow!, are a well-known fixture at Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays Festival of Sailing, where John and his band The Wolverines often performed.

“We sheltered at Hamilton Island and we’re off to Stonehaven. It’s one of our favourite places to anchor where we can still get internet and TV – and get to a bottle shop without too much trouble!”

 Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer Tash Wheeler said the Whitsundays is excited to host the record number of entrants at this year’s Airlie Beach Race Week.

“The Whitsundays offer some of the world’s best sailing, with a combination of clear turquoise waters, steady breezes, secluded coves and fringing reefs – The Whitsundays is the ‘Heart of Sailing’,” said Wheeler.

“Airlie Beach Race Week has attracted entrants from all over the country, and with seven days and nights of high-profile entertainment and social activities, we are thrilled to hear that already over 150 boats are entered.”

Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays 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.

Entries are set to close Monday 2 August. To apply, click here.

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