Preparations for the annual SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week are in full swing with racing getting under way on Friday morning with Cleveland Bay becoming a mecca for yachties from all over Australia.
F18’s at play - photographer Frank Gicquiaud
The event is held in the protected waters between Townsville and Magnetic Island, and now in its fifth year, is one of the fastest growing regattas in the Asia Pacific.
This year it’s even bigger with a record fleet of 90 boats entered and the introduction of the F18 Australian Championships, the qualifying round for the next World Titles in California, America.
Other classes racing in the regatta include Performance Racing, IRC Racing, Cruising with Spinnakers (Divisions 1 and 2), Cruising Non-spinnakers and Multi-Hulls.
Sailors will be coming from Queensland, South Australia, NSW Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, and it’s all hands on deck as they organise their boats and prepare tactics for the chance of taking home some ‘silverware’.
Latest forecasts suggest that sailors and spectators can expect post card sailing conditions with top temperatures of 27, and wind speeds between 10 and 18 knots for the event.
'After great sailing conditions at Airlie Beach, and the challenging conditions of Hamilton Island, it’s just great to look out over the blue water of Cleveland Bay. We have a positive weather forecast, a record fleet and we’re looking forward to a great regatta. Right now both sailors and race management are working hard ahead of Thursday’s briefing, and five days of great racing thereafter,' Principal Race Director Denis Thompson said.
Australian F18 Class President James Ogilvie came off the water this afternoon smiling 'Great conditions here, a perfect venue for some spectacular racing and a great weather forecast. Its a hot fleet of 24 of the best crews in Australia. With as many as 16 races across our series, the podium placers will deserve to be there.'
The five-day event is one of the biggest outings on Townsville’s events calendar, and thousands of visitors and locals are expected to flock to the island to catch the action.
One of Queensland’s best known sailors, 18 year old Jessica Watson, will be attending the event and her presence is sure to be a highlight.
She will be welcoming competitors and sponsors on Thursday evening at Tropical Resort at Nelly Bay.
Then on Friday morning she’ll be speaking to the business community at the Picnic Bay Surf Life Saving Club on The Strand.
The regatta provides great competition and colourful entertainment, against the stunning backdrop of Magnetic Island.
Whether you’re a keen sailor or up for some fun in the sun there are opportunities for everyone involved.
A number of offshore activities have been planned including a colourful street festival, live entertainment, food and wine, market stalls and kids’ activities.
For more information, go to SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week website, www.magneticislandraceweek.com.au.