There will be action aplenty on Airlie Beach's Pioneer Bay this morning, when a record fleet of 130 boats hits the start line for the 22nd annual Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week.
This morning we talked to Mick Phillips, a former President of the Whitsunday Sailing Club and one of the proud stalwarts of Whitsunday sailing, who explained why the locals do so well at Race Week.
‘There is a significant home town advantage for the Whitsunday Sailing Club sailors.
'The Whitsunday tidal gates are totally unforgiving so local knowledge really counts. If you don’t know exactly where you need to be on the water and at what time, you are out the back door and any amount of handicapping won’t help you.
‘I have seen boats just 20 metres apart but by the time they have gone through the tide gates they have been half a mile part. Local knowledge goes a long way particularly around Pioneer Point and anywhere through the Molle Channel.
‘The bottom of South Molle Island is pretty unforgiving. If you have a look on the chart it will tell you the tide runs at two and a half knots there.
‘So when the tide is running against you, if you can get in within ten metres of the rocks where there is much less current and often back eddies, and work that ten metre line around the rocks, then you are going to be a long way in front of any boat that sticks its nose out into the current. You have a half mile advantage straight away’ Mick explained.
He continued ‘In those tidal areas the shallower drafted little boats do well. The big boats that have to stick out into the tide are at a disadvantage.
‘Some of the Airlie Beach Race Week northern races that go around Gloucester and Grassy Islands and also the Twin Cones have significant tidal flows too. There are some real tricks in getting to the Cones with the way the tide curves.
‘Boats that go wide don’t seem to do that well.
‘Heading south, if you have a steady south easterly sometimes going in right to the mainland shore and working up the shore, particularly if you have a tide against you, is the answer.
‘This week we’ll watch with interest how the locals go, to see if the tides go with them’ smiled Mick.
For all the latest news and results from Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week go to www.airliebeachraceweek.com.au