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Airlie Beach Race Week turns on 'Champagne racing'

Reignition, skippered by Charles Wallis, in action on day four of Airlie Beach Race Week.
Reignition, skippered by Charles Wallis, in action on day four of Airlie Beach Race Week. Shirley Wodson

THIS year's Airlie Beach Race Week, after the carnage of the last year's regatta, has been easy for both sailors and race officials.

Sailing officer at the Whitsunday Sailing Club, Ross Chisholm, described the conditions on the water for the first three days as classic "Champagne sailing”.

"Strong south-easterly winds gave them an opportunity to head in all directions all around the islands and they were all island races,” he said.

"They have come back with a big grin on their faces.”

After the lay day on Monday however the wind dropped off and the fleet struggled to get going on day five of racing.

Yachts line up on Pioneer Bay for the
Yachts line up on Pioneer Bay for the Peter Carruthers

"We had them sitting out in the boats for several hours waiting for the wind to come in,” Chisholm said.

"We finally got a very light northerly and managed to set a small course in Pioneer Bay.

"And at least we got a result and got something out of the day.

"Today (Wednesday) is very much similar and at this stage the chances of getting out on the water are fairly slim,” he said.

Chisholm said the competitors persevered on Tuesday in very light airs and didn't like the idea of doing it again.

"We want to give them the best racing they can get, which is not in these conditions,” he said.

Local yacht Twister, skippered by Race Week veteran Kevin Fogarty.
Local yacht Twister, skippered by Race Week veteran Kevin Fogarty. Shirley Wodson

At Friday's opening Double Cone Island Race, media director of Airlie Beach Race Week, Di Pearson said the IRC yacht, Celestial, which is racing in the performance racing division 1, would be an interesting yacht to watch.

Contesting the regatta last year with Victorire, Darryl Hodgkinson, a plastic surgeon from Sydney, this year is racing new IRC yacht Celestial.

After four races the TP 52 is in fifth place.

"They have all had quite good scores and in their last race they finished second but it is the first time they have sailed the boat,” Pearson said.

"It's like going from thoroughbred to a full-on racer. So it is hard boat to come to grips with the TP 52, but they are getting better at it.”

Awesome, skippered by Peter Harrison, sailing in light airs on day four.
Awesome, skippered by Peter Harrison, sailing in light airs on day four. Shirley Wodson

Local boat Twister, skippered by Kev Fogarty, is sitting in third place in the performance racing division 1 class.

"The conditions have suited Kev down to the ground,” Pearson said.

"It has been very light air so it has suited the lighter and newer boats.”

Topics:  airlie beach race week 2017 race week sailing whitsundays


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