Race for a bottle of rum to be honoured on Pioneer Bay

They’re coming to get you!!!! - Great Whitsunday Fun Race
Bob Fenney
Memories of the initial match race for a bottle of rum between the 1939 launched lugger Torres Herald 11 and the barque Dahlia will again be honoured on Pioneer Bay this weekend.

When the Allen Southward skippered Torres Herald 11 sailed to victory on a special course set down by the then officials of the Whitsunday Sailing Club in 1976 her crew set a traditional event in place which is now known as The Great Whitsunday Fun Race.

During the past 35 years the Fun Race well known for attracting some internationally famed yachts including Australia’s Americas Cup challenger Gretel, Sydney Hobart line honours champions Condor and Apollo and the American maxi Matador has continued to make a mark in Queensland sailing history.

The names of these famed ocean racing yachts remain engraved on what is regarded as the most worthless perpetual prize ever presented in Australia.

However the trophy crafted from a slab of Mackay rainforest cedar as a base to display a empty bottle of rum has continued to attract a widely diversified fleet of yachts from the 2010 line honours winner the Peter Millar skippered catamaran Cynophobe to the traditional gaff rigged ketch Pequot.

Whitsunday Sailing Club officials are expecting an entry of close to 100 with many more spectator craft decked with decorations from Palm Fronds to nautical flags to follow the fleet.

This floating party atmosphere has become a traditional celebration however race officials encourage both skippers and crews to enjoy a fun time afloat while observing all the rules.

Interest this year will again centre on the speed sailing catamaran Cynophobe when her crew sets up their personal challenge against the clock.

Hopefully the trade winds will remain to provide the Cynophobe crew to produce another fast course time while also filling the sails of the luggers and square riggers when they set sail.

While the slower luggers, gaffers and square riggers race over a shorter course with Pioneer Rocks set as the rounding mark the bulk of the fleet will test their speed over the traditional Fun Race course starting off Airlie Beach then rounding the Pioneer Rocks before setting spinnakers on the leg to Grimston Point then setting a course for the finish line off Airlie Beach.

All of the sailing action can be witnessed from the spacious deck at the Whitsunday Sailing Club where spectators are welcomed to enjoy both the racing and the post race party where the presentations to the 2011 winners of the Miss Figurehead and the Mr Six Pack always attract significant attention.