Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week the signature event hosted by the Whitsunday Sailing Club is expected to attract another high standard fleet.
The action packed multiclass regatta from August 12-18 has attracted interest in the Notice of Race from owners representing clubs from the cold latitude ports of New Zealand, Tasmania and the mainland Australian states of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.
Southern Queensland blue water racing sailors who regard the popular event as an escape route to test their boat speed in a friendly environment of racing against the local crews are also planning their delivery voyages.
Tracking the compass bearings to the warmer Whitsunday Island waters has become an annual cruise for the veteran Mooloolaba offshore sailors Nick Cox and Col Thomas.
Delivery skipper Col Thomas has become very familiar with the coastal way points and the rewards of racing in what he believes to be Australia’s friendliest race week series.
He will again be at the helm of Hans-0n the comfortable Hanse cruiser/racer when they draw the ‘battle lines’ on the warm waters of Pioneer Bay to defend the traditional yachties wager of a bottle of Mt Gay Rum.
'All the crew are self proclaimed ambassadors for Mt Gay and have been known to enjoy winning a few bottles on the regatta results'. Col Thomas said.
But the Hans-On sailors can expect to have their tactical strategy tested when they line up against a strong fleet of local Whitsunday Sailing Club crews who are equally determined to protect their reputations.
Previous Performance Handicap class champion Reignition cleverly steered by the crafty Charles Wallis and the equally impressive Questionable Logic helmed by Terry Archer are two well prepared short course ocean racing combinations who have the potential to keep the Hans –On liquor locker dry.
The current form of former Rolex Sydney Hobart Performance Handicap trophy winner the Damien Suckling skippered Another Fiasco and the Roger Down helmed True Love suggests the Hans-On crew will find their access to race in uncontested space will be challenged.
Based on the handicap ratings from 2010 when Questionable Logic outpaced her 1.067 handicap to claim a 36 second win over Reignition in the Double Cone-Armit Island race suggests the Whitsunday Sailing Club crews will again be poised to protect the reputations against Hans-On.
The Hans-on crew have come to understand in previous challenges to win the Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week Performance Handicap title that their mates who race under the Whitsunday Sailing Club burgee develop a more protective attitude on the race course.
This attitude will need to become equally aggressive with the Hans-On crew making a claim to have a ‘secret weapon’ in the sail wardrobe which promises to lift their chances to win the series and a few bottles of Mt Gay Rum from their local rivals.