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2021 Airlie Beach Race Week - Day 1

by ABRW media 13 Aug 16:56 PDT
Charleston capsized before the start © Shirley Wodson pic - ABRW

It had all the drama of soap opera; while some revelled in the 20 knot breeze, others were dismasted or were damaged, which put paid to their race on the opening day of Whitsunday Sailing Club's (WSC) 33rd Airlie Beach Race Week.

A spectacular beginning to the week for the 75 boats as organisers called for a mass start for the fleet. It was a spectacle for viewers both on and off the water. Racing got away at 11.10am under cloudy skies and the solid south-easterly wind tested all.

George Owen's 8.6 metre multihull, Charleston, was the first casualty. He takes up the story: "We were two-sail reaching out to Double Cones when we got serious gust. The boys went to drop the jib, didn't happen and we end for ended the boat.

Owen said two of his crew were injured, one requiring stiches, but both are fine. The Queenslander was heartened when help arrived from many quarters.

"It was fantastic how many people came. Dale Mitchell (a local multihull sailor) was out there for three hours, then crews from the Extreme 40s came out in a series of rubber duckies. Shane Beyer drove some people out to help and Ross Chisholm (the event chairman) took stuff out to help float the rig.

"Others came that we didn't even know. A lady from the bar came down with beers for us. She said she'd been through this before and wanted to help us. We are very thankful to all of them.

"It was the shortest regatta in history for us. We were out there for about two minutes," Owen ended.

Shortly after this incident, Damien Suckling's 8 metre boat, Top Gear, was dismasted. Then the rudder broke on Gregory Hammon's trailer sailer Rossgo while Craig Humphries' multihull, Ritalin, suffered gear problems and had to be towed back to base.

For the remainder, the day went well and the Extreme 40, Back in Black took out Division 1 of Multihull Racing from perennial ABRW winner, Paul Mitchell with Angus. Division 2 was won by Leitning Storm (Mark Leitner) with Drew Carruthers' Rushour trailing the winner by a little more than two minutes when the handicaps were applied.

Cruising division numbers make a huge impression each year, due to the various designs, elegance and sheer numbers, with the odd famous yacht from yesteryear thrown in. The Non-Spinnaker division, with nine entered, was won by Anthea (Dewi Hughes) from Sydney's Holy Cow!, owned by John and Kim Clinton who picked up crew in Queensland when lockdown prevented their regular crew from travelling.

Jamie Berndt's Situation Normal from Townsville had a big win in the Trailable Yachts division, beating second placed Hairy McClary (Tim McCall) by just short of 10 minutes.

The 4.4 metre fun and fast WETA trimarans are making their debut at Airlie Beach and today the spoils went to Andy Duffield with the aptly named 'Wee Tri'. There was little in it, with Todd McVey's The Other Office pipped to the post by less than a minute.

Despite the various lockdowns that have and are occurring in Australia, Event Chairman, Ross Chisholm says: "We are very pleased to have so many able to attend, including those from interstate that arrived well before lockdowns occurred."

For full results and all information please visit:

Day 2 dawns

Day 1 out of the way, officials and competitors at Whitsunday Sailing Club's annual Airlie Beach Race Week have dusted themselves off after the night's celebrations and are now looking forward to the day ahead, which Event Chairman, Ross Chisholm, says, "should be champagne sailing."

Chisholm says, "We're expecting the breeze to be a bit lighter than yesterday. The forecast is for a 10-15 south-easter. Unlike yesterday, the sun is shining through a couple of clouds, so it should be a good day for all."

On Day 2, the WETA trimarans will take to windward/leeward courses on which they will do most days. The rest of the fleet will gather on Pioneer Bay for a Passage Race clockwise around the Molles.

"We had a couple of late arrivals last night that will join the fleet today," Chisholm says, "and Rossgo is ready to go again, her broken rudder now fixed."

It goes without saying that competitors enjoyed their first day of racing yesterday, because for many, it was a first time back on the water in almost a year because of the Pandemic.

Storm Bay's owner, Marc Gerard is hoping to pick up where he left off yesterday - at the top of the Multihull Passage scoreboard. His Chamberlin Cruising 14 catamaran fended off challenges and he beat Gavin Le Sueur's Favourite Child to the punch by a little over two minutes.

In Performance Cruising 1 division, perennial regatta attendee, James Irvine, is at the top of the leaderboard with Mayfair, the Rogers 46 he purchased in 2020. Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing regular, Mal Robertson with Eureka II, is poised in second place with Victorian entry Carrera S, owned by Gerry Cantwell, in third.

Rob Davis is at the top of Performance Cruising 3, after sailing Treasure VIII, his Reichel/Pugh 36 to its handicap advantage. Today's lighter winds will be telling and may give the second placed crew on Tasmanian Brett Cooper's Crusader Clennett's Mitre 10 the upper hand. Cooper and his wife Jacinta are slippery sailors and have swapped their yacht Mistraal for a frisky Melges 32, which they are both enjoying. Aboard for the ride is Darren 'Twirler' Jones, a fellow Tasmanian now living in South Australia with serious international sailing cred.

Keith Falkenhagen's Blue Moon, a Beneteau Oceanis 461 leads Performance Cruising 3 from Robert Holmes' Etchells, Good Vibes going into Day 2.

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