by Heidi Walton
2014 Airlie Beach Race Week - The Whitsunday Sailing Club is looking forward to welcoming a very special fleet of yachts for the 25th Vision Surveys Airlie Beach Race Week in August 2014.
The World ARC fleet leaving the St Lucia starting line in January.
With the World ARC Round-the-World Rally 2014-2015 having the Great Barrier Reef marked as part of the journey around the world, the fleet have been asked to join the sailing and socialising at the Vision Surveys Airlie Beach Race Week, hosted by Whitsunday Sailing Club.
Starting at Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia on January 11, 2014, World ARC is a trade-wind circumnavigation with some 43 yachts making a full circumnavigation and others join in legs along the way. Within 15 months, the fleet will travel more the 26,000 nautical miles to finish in Saint Lucia.
Amongst the fleet who are tackling the full trip, is Heather Sutton, an avid-sailor from Airlie Beach and a member of Whitsunday Sailing Club.
Heather, who has been singing praises about the Whitsundays and Airlie Beach Race Week throughout the World ARC rally, will be one sailor taking the opportunity to visit her home in Airlie Beach before completing the rest of the journey.
The World ARC fleet have been invited to join in the 25th Vision Surveys Airlie Beach Race Week in August
Vision Surveys Airlie Beach Race Week Event Chairman Jim Hayes said it would be wonderful for the World ARC Round-the-World Rally to join in the 25th anniversary regatta from 8-15 August.
'It would be a pleasure to have the fleet visit us in Airlie Beach during their huge journey, and hear some of the amazing stories from the trip so far,' Mr Hayes said.
'The rally is similar to race week, with people from all walks of life coming together to share their passion for sailing,' he said.
Meanwhile, World ARC Event Manager Paul Tetlow said the fleet always looks for opportunities to stop and meet the locals throughout their journey.
'We really enjoy meeting local yacht club members to find out more about where they live and where they sail,' Mr Tetlow said.
'It’s the same reason that participating in the Airlie Beach Race Week is so appealing – meeting new people and having fun. There is good interest among our fleet and several boats hope to join in some of the racing before they continue on north up the Great Barrier Reef,' he said.
With the World ARC fleet currently at 39 yachts, 27 are expected to arrive with the fleet in Mackay, south of Airlie Beach.
'We currently have 130 crew participating representing 16 nationalities,' Mr Tetlow said, confirming there have been many highlights throughout the journey so far.
'Prior to arriving in Australia, the highlights will have been transiting the Panama Canal, visiting remote Pacific islands and climbing the Mount Yasur active volcano in Tanna,' he said.
World ARC 2014-15 is the fourth edition of the rally, and the ninth round-the-world rally organised by the World Cruising Club.