FROM August 9-16, more than 1000 people will descend on the Whitsundays for the 23rd annual Airlie Beach Race Week (ABRW), but just 10 days ago this world-class sailing regatta was in danger of being dropped.
With Meridien Marinas in receivership, the race week now has no major naming sponsor for only the second time in its near quarter of a century history.
Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC) manager Angela Rae said thankfully race week was in its third (and final) year of a Queensland regional development grant, which had "saved the day" to some extent.
"Without the grant it would be difficult for it to go ahead and if we lose events like this it will take Airlie off the map," Ms Rae said.
Sailing Club president Jeff Brown said this year's regatta would inevitably cost the club money.
"But the way we look at it there's now an opportunity for the town to get behind us to make up that shortfall and help support the biggest thing that happens in Airlie," he said.
"We can't do it on our own. We need the town's support."
Regatta director Denis Thompson agreed.
"This is Airlie Beach Race Week - it's not the Whitsunday Sailing Club's race week - the whole town owns it," he said.
Mr Thompson, who flew up from Sydney on Monday, said not having a major sponsor would certainly pose difficulties for the event management team who had already reduced entry fees and negotiated berth discounts for competitors, to ensure the regatta could go ahead.
Ms Rae said the sailing club would be working out an extensive social program and was keen to hear from any local businesses wanting to be involved on site.
"We're also interested in talking to people that might like to hold off-site events," she said.
A representative from WSC will personally visit local business houses in the coming weeks to discuss sponsorship proposals. For more information phone WSC marketing co-ordinator Corrie Gardner on 0422 617 442 or email email@example.com.