The Multihull Racing Division for this year’s Vision Surveys 25th Airlie Beach Race Week, which starts on Saturday, has attracted a surprising and impressive team of sailors to its ranks.
The North Sails team of Mark Bradford and Vaughan Prentice, both high profile members of the Black Jack Volvo 70 team, have packed up their monohull gear for a week and stepped into the multihull world aboard Wayne Bloomer’s 15m Schoinning G Force, Chillpill. Joining them on board are Will McCarthy of America’s Cup and Team Australia, Etchells class and offshore race fame and Matt von Bibra with eight sailing world championships under his belt.
Bloomer has dedicated this year to sailing instead of overseas travel, so Race Week was a natural inclusion in his program along with a new set of sails.
'I am treating it as a learning curve on how to sail my boat competitively. I bought a new set of sails and part of the deal was that the sailmakers have to teach me how to use them.
'My job on board is skipper, hopefully. I will steer the boat and they will tell me exactly what they want me to do,' a jovial Bloomer said.
Among the experts guiding Bloomer, Bradford is the one with a steep learning curve ahead of him when it comes to multihulls. He has built sails for multihulls and raced on Tornados and smaller multis, but has never done a big boat regatta. 'Vaughan and Matty have. And Will McCarthy was involved in the America’s Cup last time and Team Australia and he has done plenty.
'I am pretty excited about it. We have been in Sports Boats and Etchells and we have the Volvo 70. It’s good to get across the whole sport.
'The apparent wind angles and the speed of the boat are going to be very similar to the Volvo. In terms of sail selection, I should be alright with that. It’s going to be a great challenge,' Bradford said.
Chillpill is racing in a 16-boat fleet with a number of the skippers having competed at Race Week in previous years. Andrew Stransky’s 15m Fantasia and Robert Remilton’s little 9m Wilparina II were both on the podium last year.
Vision Surveys Airlie Beach Race Week has broken the record number of entries in its 25th anniversary year. - Shirley Wodson
Stransky has been in Airlie Beach for about six weeks and so has been taking a pretty relaxed approach to this regatta preparation including some sailing with Whitsunday Sailing Club. He will be racing with his daughter Amara, who has just taken up Laser sailing, along with his wife Carolyn, Darren Soper and local multihull sailor John Cadwallader.
'I reckon we will win this year. A few of the other good boats aren’t here, but Mad Max and Wilparina are going to be our two closest rivals,' Stransky said. That was said before the Chillpill champions arrived on the scene at Port of Airlie.
The Multihull Cruising Division will welcome a New Zealand team to their 16-boat fleet. Joining event sponsor, Brian Forrester’s 62-foot Drumbeat, for a laid-back regatta, Peter Hall and his team from various Auckland sailing clubs have chartered a Sun Sail 384.
'This is our eleventh time at Airlie Beach. We bring a group of guys over from New Zealand every year and just charter a yacht.
'There is a serious amount of fun had and we will probably keep doing this regatta until we have to bring our Zimmer frames,' Hall said.
'It’s a boys only trip and you can probably read between the lines on that. There will be eight of us this year,' he added.
Racing commences on Saturday 9th August.