One of the best known boats on the Northern Regatta circuit is the yacht called Holy Cow. For the last decade, its owner John Clinton and his wife Kim have brought a succession of boats called Holy Cow north from Sydney each winter.
This will be the third appearance for their Beneteau Oceanis 53, like the others it's headsail is black and white spray painted so it looks like it was made from the hide of a Friesian cow. The boat has a Cow Moo button, and naturally a Cow Bell.
On the water or on land, 63-year-old John is almost as conspicuous. He has a long silver beard, which trails back in the wind.
John is not just a legend on the water; he is the leader, drummer and vocalist of Australia’s legendary southern-style group, The Wolverines.
The Harley riding, charter skipper, recreational sailor and Wolverines drummer, regards Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week as one of the friendliest on the Australian sailing calendar.
'You hear some wonderful things about the regatta, Denis Thompson (race director) and his officials are excellent and the camaraderie, well, if you want a friendly regatta, this is the one,' John said.
'It really is very well organised and that is a huge thing if you are a boat owner – from the time you sail into Meridien’s Abel Point marina people are ready to ask if you need a hand.'
He and Kim have competed in Airlie Beach Race Week every year for the past decade.
This year John will be sailing with a crew of 10 to 16 'depending on how social we are feeling on the particular day,' but one sure member of crew will be his 'first mate' Kim.
'I am very lucky to have her – she also owns half the boat ... and it’s the side which is always nearest to any rocks,' he quipped.
When not taking charters on Sydney harbour or doing short hauls along the east coast, John keeps the beat with the Wolverines, a country-influenced group that has produced seven albums, about five of them comprising their own material.
The Wolverines will be featured entertainers in the on-site Airlie Beach Race Week Competitors Marquee next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, where sailors gather to reflect on the day’s happenings.
Their songs are a unique blend of humour, ribaldry and charitable passion for good causes including raising money for cystic fibrosis research, as well as a healthy dose of sailing themes.
Holy Cow with its bovine and lime green livery, will be competing in the very popular Cruising class.
The full list of classes at this year's Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week is IRC Racing, IRC Cruising; Performance Racing; Cruising; Cruising (non spinnaker); Sports Boats; Inshore, Multi-Hulls and Super 30.
More event information at Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week website www.airliebeachraceweek.com.au