|Record fleet for Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week|
For a quarter of a century two iconic Queensland sailing events, Airlie Beach Race Week and Hamilton Island Race Week, have attracted hundreds of boats from the southern states each August, however very few ever ventured further north. But now that has changed.
|Magnetic Island Race Week 2010 Magnetic Island Race Week ©|
Five years ago the Townsville Yacht Club with the strong support of Townsville based Sunferries, staged the first Magnetic Island Race Week.
It was a bold step. However the success of Magnetic Island Race Week, now with additional involvement and support from Queensland Events and Townsville City Council, has been well beyond expectations and a record fleet of around 90 boats is expected to line up on Cleveland Bay next week.
Regatta Director Denis Thompson said today ‘In the first year 23 boats... mostly local ... took part in that inaugural 2007 event and in 2008 there were 35 boats. As news spread about the relaxed and friendly nature of this regatta, the numbers climbed in 2009 to 49 and up to 65 in 2010.
‘A week out from the 2011 event there are already 87 entries from up and down the Queensland coast and we have strong interstate support too.
‘There are more boats yet to complete their paper work for the 2011 event which starts on Thursday 1st September and runs through until Wednesday 7th.
‘A lot of those boats are still racing at Hamilton Island so we expect to see a few more entries yet.'
There are clearly three factors driving this rapid growth according to Sealink's Jessica Ebelt.
‘Most of the Sealink Magnetic Island series newcomers have sailed the winter passage north from Sydney and Melbourne for many years. After all the Hamilton Island regatta is now in its 28th year and Airlie Beach has just completed its 22nd event, but over the years few boats have ventured any further north than the Whitsundays, so a major driver is the interest in exploring new racing and cruising grounds. In other words it's time for a new experience.
‘The second factor is that in late August as the fleets return south they often find themselves punching into the late stages of the south trade winds. For many sailors, waiting in northern waters for a few more weeks means a much more enjoyable downhill ride (home) as the trades swing to the north east.
‘So heading north to Magnetic Island and the new cruising grounds amongst the 13 other islands of the Palm group, makes a lot of sense.'
As Jessica points out, having made the decision to break the mould many boats have planned much bigger expeditions.
‘This year the Airlie Beach Race Week founder Don Algie is again bringing his magnificent yacht Storm 2 to Magnetic Island, but is then sailing up to Darwin and onto Phuket Thailand for Asia's premiere regatta, the Phuket King's Cup. He'll stop in again on the way back.
‘Quite a number of the cruising boats sailing at Magnetic Island are going to be heading for the Louisades Rally in New Guinea' she added.
The third factor is the mixture of practical and social elements that's delivering a great regatta.
‘Both Sealink and the Townsville Yacht Club have worked to make sure that our Magnetic Island regatta is old fashioned affordable fun, sailed out of a well laid out marina. It has a great social program, good breezes, experienced regatta management, friendly locals, plenty of accommodation options and a stunning island, close to a major regional city with good air travel connections' Jessica said.
Certainly this mix is proving highly successful. So much so that Dom Grundy and Paul O'Rourke from Corlette Point Sailing Association, the Organizing Authority for the Sail Port Stephens regatta in NSW which is another young and fast growing event, having heard great things about the Magnetic Island event will be sailing here next week.
'We've heard a lot of good things, so we thought we'd come up and join the fun. Our events might be 3,000 kms apart but we had to come up to see just why the Magnetic Island event is growing so quickly' explained
Sealink Queensland General Manager Jeff Davey said ‘As Sealink has just taken over the position of running the passenger ferry operations between Townsville and Magnetic Island in North Queensland, it is our position that the future holds exciting times as we showcase Magnetic Island as a spectacular destination in North Queensland.
‘Because we promote the desirability of the region as a cruising destination, a large percentage of the boats that are coming to Magnetic Island for this event will be staying in Far North Queensland (FNQ) waters for at least a month and this provides a significant boost to the economy.
‘Right now though it's full speed ahead for the event organisers making sure this will be another memorable FNQ event.'
About Sealink Travel Group:
*The company carries almost 1.8 million ferry passengers a year in Townsville, Adelaide and Auckland
*Employs over 350 staff in a wide variety of positions
*Established in 1989, Sealink's business includes
*Ferry operations to Magnetic Island and Palm Island in North Queensland
*Ferry operations to Kangaroo Island in South Australia
*Ferry operations to Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island in New Zealand
*Coach touring, exclusive 4WD tours and bus charters in Kangaroo Island and around South Australia
*Day tour business operating in and around Adelaide and South Australia
*Wholesaling of tourism product to the trade
*Three retail travel agencies in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne
*Retail travel agency and wholesaler in Townsville, North Queensland
*Ski holiday business
*Skylink Shuttle Bus service between Adelaide City, the rail terminal and Adelaide Airport
Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week Media
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Contacts: Rob Kothe Media Manager +612 4977 2116 Mobile +61 (0) 418 441359 email@example.com
Jessica Ebelt Events Coordinator Sealink Qld
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Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week 2011 1 - 6 September
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