SMALL BOAT: Heather Sutton chasing son Zac Sleight.
SMALL BOAT: Heather Sutton chasing son Zac Sleight.

Bigger and better Sail Airlie

SAILING: Sail some of the world's most pristine coastline.

Whitsunday Sailing Club's annual Sail Airlie regatta for both offshore keelboats and off the beach dinghies will be held during the Easter weekend.

The regatta for off the beach boats will run on Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the Easter holidays.

Races are scheduled every day at 10am for keelboats, while offshore races are scheduled for 11am Saturday and Sunday only.

The Easter weekend event has developed into one of the major dinghy regattas on the coast.

This year the event is combined with the Marlin Marine series for offshore keelboats.

Last year's regatta ran just days after Cyclone Debbie had visited and major clean-ups took place to enable the event to go ahead.

A competitive fleet of about 70 boats is expected from across the state this year, with plenty of supportive onlookers.

Four divisions will divide the fleet, with a separate "green" fleet for beginners.

The rear commodore, Miles Wood, said there were some promising young sailors just getting started who would really benefit from the experience of sailing in a real regatta.

"Some of these kids have only been in the sport for a few weeks but already love it and see this as a shortcut to developing their skills," he said.

A separate division will be formed for junior sailors who have had some previous experience, with the main boats in the fleet being Sabots, Optimists and O'pen Bics.

Competitors in this group are generally aged from nine to 15 years.

In the open division there is a wider range of boats, with Lasers, Tasars, RS Quests, Impulse, 29ers and multihull dinghies.

It is hoped there will even be some foiling moths, which always make a great spectacle.

The offshore event will be highlighted by the inclusion of a fleet from Bowen trying to take home the WSC/NQCYC Challenge trophy.

It's an honour the Whitsunday Sailing Club has retained on its walls for some time now.

Competition will consist of a long-distance race around the islands on Saturday, followed by two shorter races on Pioneer Bay on Sunday.

A strong show of competitors and supporters is expected as the regatta forms the first weekend of the club's championships.


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