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2021 Airlie Beach Race Week - Day 3

by Di Pearson / ABRW 15 Aug 2021 04:12 PDT 12-19 August 2021
About Time and her unusual stern adornment - 2021 Airlie Beach Race Week © Shirley Wodson

They say it takes all kinds when it comes to sailing and that something a little bit different on Jono and Gemma Winterbottom's Seawind 1000, About Time, has them all talking at the 33rd edition of Airlie Beach Race Week.

The Pittwater, NSW couple could not have picked a better time to take six months out of their busy lives as a shipwright (him) and marine upholsterer (her) to go cruising before the lockdown came into effect. But they didn't want to lose all the comforts of home.

Sailing up north, the Whitsunday Sailing Club's Airlie Beach Race Week was on Jono and Gemma's bucket list, as was a stay at Coral Sea Marina Resort. And that is where the double takes started, as people spied some greenery at the stern of the big catamaran that got tongues wagging.

"Yes, we have an herb and vegetable garden growing off the back of the boat," bubbly Gemma confirms.

"Because we're taking six months of work, we thought we'd try to grow some things. We have these three rectangular plant boxes. The tomatoes have really taken off.

"We've also got thyme, coriander, mind, lettuce a chilli plant - and they go racing with us every day. It gives us something to do and it's a fun thing to do. I get up every morning and water them. They don't like the wind too much, but they're hanging in though," she says.

The left Pittwater in May on their comfortable 'home away from home' with a stopover in Coffs Harbour before cruising to the Whitsunday Islands. "It seemed like the Covid was driving us up the coast," Gemma says.

"We've been so busy with work. We felt we needed a break," Jono says. "We thought it's now or never. We knew our next trip we knew would be a big one - and here we are.

"This is our first Airlie Beach Race Week and we're having the time of our lives. We're staying at Coral Sea Marina. We love it. It has great facilities and everyone is so friendly there. We are spoiling ourselves over Race Week and then we'll move, cruise around and anchor."

Well-named About Time is racing in the Multihull Passage Division where she is sitting in seventh place after two days of racing. Win, lose or draw, the Winterbottoms agree they are in it to have fun, meet new people and enjoy everything the beautiful Whitsundays have to offer. Both agree they have achieved all three goals.

About Time will be on the start line again today for Race 3, ahead of Monday's lay day.

Event Chairman, Ross Chisholm says today's forecast is "Another day in paradise. The sun is on its way out and we're expecting 16 knots across the entire race area all day."

The WETA trimarans, he says, will be on windward/leeward courses, "With up to three races on Pioneer Bay. They will be close enough to the Club to come in for lunch between races."

The rest of the fleet are on passage courses. The larger and faster boats are heading to the northern islands, including Gumbrell and Olden. The middle divisions are heading to Gumbrell Island return to Pioneer Bay. The smaller end of town will take in Edwin Rock, Grassy Island and Grimston Point.

Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays Festival of Sailing is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland. It is a feature on the It's Live! in Queensland events calendar.

For full results and all information please visit:

Multihull update

Local sailor Paul Mitchell has taken a grip on Multihull Racing's Division 1, adding another win to the scorecard with the Extreme 40, Angus.

"The Extreme is great fun. It's good to have such close racing," say Mitchell who is racing one for the first time at competition level aboard Angus. The local is normally at the helm of Ullman Sails, which he sold last year.

"We sailed in quite a nice breeze and carried the system with us right up to Olden and halfway to Grimston Point and then became becalmed. When we all got down to Olden there was only about three seconds between us in 20 knots all the way and then got just in front. We got the new breeze first and just got away," he said.

Mitchell was at pains to point out: "Michel (Back in Black) should be leading, not us. They split their main yesterday when they were in front and the other two slipped through."

Mark Leitner continues to lead Division 2, adding a second to his scorecard with Leitning Storm, a Prescott Firefly 850.

"It's a pretty good feeling, that's for sure," Leitner said. "We've had a great couple of days here, it's been heavy wind, wet and cold with sun at times. We've come down from Cairns. The racing has been fantastic."

"We've been keeping up with a couple of big boats, which is a surprise to them and to us. Today was such close racing with Rushour and G'Nome. We were neck-and-neck all the way to the end in 5 to 20 knots of wind. It's good the racing is so close.

"This is our third Race Week. It's been awesome they put it on for all of us who just wanted away from lockdown and to get on the water. It's a fantastic regatta. Hats off to them and the volunteers. Without them, we wouldn't have a regatta," said Leitner who is enjoying being stationed at Port of Airlie Marina and the short walk it provides back and forwards to WSC.

Marc Girard continues to cut a swathe through the Multihull Passage Division 2 with Storm Bay, a Chamberlin Cruising 40 cat. Third place today has cemented his six point lead.

"I'm enjoying the racing this year. Last year we had little wind at all, so we didn't do well. Our boat doesn't like the light. So it's been great racing, perfect. The competition is excellent, and the racing fair for all. I'm really enjoying it, and the crew are too," the Queenslander said.

"The vegie boat won today, but the tomatoes were looking a bit wilted," he commented, referring to Jono and Gemma Winterbottom's About Time. The Sydney couple is growing tomatoes and herbs off the stern and have met many new friends because of the curiosity.

On Pioneer Bay, the WETA trimarans reeled off three races. Andy Duffield tops the leaderboard after scoring 3-2-1 results, adding to his bullet of Friday with 'Wee Tri'. His toughest competition is Hard Decision, sailed by Dave Vockler. The latter is four points off the lead, with Duffield the more consistent of the pair so far.

"The racing is all pretty good. We did windward/leewards. It was pretty flukey earlier; a light 5 to a max of 12 knots. The last race was really good, we got 15-18 knots, which I liked."

This is a first at Airlie for the WETAs. "It's really good racing. This is a fairly new class and we want to showcase it so people can see that anyone can sail them. Even us older people," Duffield said, explaining there are sailors in their seventies are among the contenders. "They're dinosaurs," he quipped, with the expected retaliation coming from those parties.

"They're a great little boat. We just love doing it. It's a good life and enjoyable. They're good fun - lively. If it blows hard enough, they will tip you in the drink, and they're quick."

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