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Southern Spars - North Technology

The race for the most worthless trophy in International sailing

by Ian Thomson on 16 Sep 2011
They’re coming to get you!!!! - Great Whitsunday Fun Race Bob Fenney
This season has seen the Americas Cup and the Admirals Cup appear in the magical Whitsunday Islands but last Saturday saw a race for another trophy, one that has a reputation unlike any other. Yachts came from all over Australia to race for this trophy yet it has no sports car sponsorship or TV accolades. Yachts of all types enter. Round the world racing yachts, luggers, classics, cruisers, catamarans and even hobie cats compete in one race to win this unique trophy.

It all started in 1977 when two crews got together and decided to hold a race for a bottle of Mount Gay Rum. Today we still race for that original bottle (now empty) in the annual season finale in the Whitsundays, the Great Whitsunday Fun Race. The trophy is totally worthless however the competition to get your name on it is red hot. But the name says it all 'Fun.'

The whole of the Whitsundays stops for this great race, resembling the horses racing on that first Tuesday in November. The training for the teams starts weeks before as they select the outfits and themes for the day, and why wouldn't you try and be the best dressed yacht when the top prize is $500 cash and flights to the outer reef valued at $850. All you have to do is make a little effort and you could win this great prize, the most valuable of the day.

Out on the start line the scene is somewhat different to usual races. No one is running the line or pinging marks, instead they are pinging something else. Usually it is a war between vessels as water guns and buckets of water are thrown between crews to disrupt their race preparations to give them an edge I guess. There are as many spectator craft as there are racing vessels as the whole town makes it out onto the water on anything they can find.


The race starts and before you know it you are racing around Pioneer Bay avoiding boats with BBQ's cooking on the back decks and people swinging in hammocks from the rig. The real reason to finish first is to make it back to see as many boats cross the line as possible....something about the Miss Figurehead contestants on the bow. This very popular contest is judged by the Commodore of the Whitsunday Sailing Club and I did personally witness one Kevin Fogarty drumming up support for his re-election as Commodore at registration on Friday night.....I wonder why?

After the race the boats mill around with raft ups and beverages popping up everywhere. The atmosphere is unlike any other race you will sail in all year. The comradery between crews is amazing as yachts from Tassie, NSW and Queensland all have fun and joke about who's got the better figurehead.

Then it is off to the Whitsunday Sailing Club for the evening of entertainment. Typical of the theme of the day, the entry fee is just $2, yes that's right $2. Can't get into see the quality of bands we saw that night for that price anywhere. Drinks are cheap and the weather is always amazing.

The crowd seems to gather more and more leading up to the final of the Mr 6 Pack and Miss Figurehead Competitions. Then on comes MC Trevor with the worst job in town, he has to get up close and personal with the contestants. (Well he has to do it for men and women so I guess it levels itself out there somewhere.)

The typical boys come up with the odd good body but more ridiculous bodies with writing on them trying to find someone to pull their emergency release chord!!.

Then the crowd doubles as the 2011 Miss Figurehead competition is announced. Not sure where these people come from but it is all of a sudden jammed on the dance floor. The ladies come up and strut their stuff and I'll leave the rest to your imagination.


If you thought I'd post pictures then you're wrong....you'll just have to come next year but I will say that Miss Brooke was stunning and the best I've seen for years at this great event.

So if you are reading this from your cold office or house down south, why did you leave so early? You missed all the fun.

Oh and to make this an official race report, Leo Rodriquez's Merit won the race for the most worthless trophy in international sailing, the Great Whitsunday Fun Race empty bottle of rum!!!!


Whitsunday Sailing Club website

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