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Quality comes to Airlie Beach Race Week 2023

by Di Pearson/ABRW 25 Apr 2023 22:41 PDT 10-17 August 2023
Performance Cruising delivers a palette of colour and strong competition - Airlie Beach Race Week © Andrea Francolini

Two past Sydney Hobart winners, a record-breaking Kiwi yacht, a Fast 40 and a new kid on the block are among the quality IRC/ORC entries ready for action stations when the 35th running of Airlie Beach Race Week, organised by Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC) is held from 10-17 August.

Philip Turner's RP66, Alive, won 'The Hobart' in 2018 with Duncan Hine in the skipper role, while Darryl Hodgkinson won the 2013 Hobart with a former Victoire. The decorated yachtsman returns to Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing aboard the equally decorated Carkeek 40 with which he recently won SailFest Newcastle.

In fact, the 40-45 footer range is where you will find some serious competition, including Hodgkinson's yacht, which last competed in 2018. Doctor Darryl is looking forward to being in the Whitsundays again this August. He says, "I really enjoy the regatta. It's smoothly run and I like the courses.

"The atmosphere is wonderful. We get a very good choice of accommodation and restaurants nearby and there's lots to do in town. The shopping is easy. We slip into a pattern easily when we get there," says the Sydney doctor who will make the most of his trip north by heading to SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week post Airlie Beach.

Rob Date's Scarlet Runner is a Carkeek 43, heading to her maiden ABRW. Launched in 2022 for the Victorian yachtsman, she is one of the newest boats in the fleet and is slightly larger than Victoire, with which she shares a designer in common. In March, Scarlet Runner placed second in the Melbourne to King Island Yacht Race, missing the win by 11 seconds!

Blink hails from Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in New Zealand. Vesna Wells says the Shaw 12 Metre design is a fully carbon versatile yacht set up for high performance offshore and inshore racing in either short-handed or fully crewed mode.

Blink has broken a number of offshore records and Rob Shaw (the yacht's designer) and Tony Wells took line honours sailing her two-handed in the 2014 Round North Island race. Tony and Vesna Wells repeated that experience in 2017. Her pedigreed design alone points her out as a favourite.

Secret Weapon is the well-named Fast 40+ purchased late last year by West Australian Robert Appleyard. She is an offshore keelboat launched in 2016.

"An exhilarating and fun boat to sail on," according to Appleyard, who is returning to racing with this a high-performance planing yacht following an extended hiatus from the sport.

"It has been very well raced and maintained by the previous owner. I am intending to campaign the boat to its potential," Appleyard warns.

The Performance Cruising division is shaping up nicely too. Entries spanning Queensland, Victoria, NSW, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia are about to break the 50 entries mark. This division delivers a palette of colour and healthy rivalry each year.

And there is a foreigner in the pack too. Graham Matthews has entered his Botin/Carkeek 55, Equilibrium from Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, home of the America's Cup.

Rating Passage, ORC Passage, One-Design classes, Performance Racing, Performance Cruising, Non-Spinnaker, Trailable Yachts and Sports Boat PHS and CBH classes, Multihull Racing, Multihull Passage, Off Beach Multihull, WETA 4.4 Trimaran and Off the Beach classes will take part at Airlie Beach Race Week 2023.

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

For online entry and Notice of Race, please visit the official site: abrw.com.au.

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