SAILING ACTION: The yacht Kite sailing in last year's Airlie Beach Race Week.
SAILING ACTION: The yacht Kite sailing in last year's Airlie Beach Race Week. Andrea Francolini

Race Week hits 100

AIRLIE Beach race week has celebrated the registration of the 100th entry in the 2017 Festival of Sailing.

Marketing director of the event, Adrian Bram, said in the wake of Cyclone Debbie, the milestone was an important one.

"We have hit the magic 100 and were really excited to get there considering all the bad news that came out of the area during the cyclone,” he said.

"We knew there was a negative perception out there amongst the sailors. Some of them thought Airlie wasn't here any more.

"So it was fantastic to see all the efforts of everyone concerned in communicating out that we are open for business and everyone is back and kicking.

"The marinas have all been put together in amazing time, hats off to Paul Darrouzet for that achievement.”

For many local boats it has been a mad scamper to prepare cyclone damaged boats ahead of this Friday's start of racing.

Nikki Abbott and Dan White, owners of the 44 foot Beneteau, Riff Raff, can relate to this situation.

Their boat was damaged by cyclonic winds while it was moored at the Port of Airlie Marina.

Ms Abbott said they had given up on entering Riff Raff this year until help arrived from an unlikely source.

Cruising division rivals Alan and Jean Sneddon came to the rescue and held a working bee on Riff Raff which resulted in the boat being ready to race.

"And now we will be out there, what ever happens,” Ms Abbott said.

"And we will have an awesome time.”

The local couple competing in their seventh Airlie Beach Race Week said they were mates off the water with Alan and Jean but on the water it was a different story.

Competing in the mulithull division with Overdrive is another local skipper, Rupert King.

When Debbie hit, Overdrive was anchored to the ground at the Whitsunday Sailing Club with massive concrete deadman weights.

A regular competitor at the Wednesday Twilight racing series, King said Overdrive copped a few "minor bumps and bruises” but was now ship shape and ready to race.

Racing in the event for the sixth year Mr King said he was really excited to get on the water and mix it with some of the fastest boats in the country.

"I am really looking forward to it,” he said.

Kevin Fogarty is also racing in Queensland's largest mainland sailing regatta for the 23rd year.

He began racing in 1991 on a friend's boat for a number of years before racing a boat called Idle Time until 2010.

In 2011 Mr Fogarty began racing his current entry, Twister, in the performance racing division.

Twister was beaten around a bit by Cyclone Debbie and sustained moderate cosmetic damage.

The repair work is now 90% complete and there is no doubting she will be on the water this year.

Mr Fogarty said it was the camaraderie and great race course that kept him coming back to the event.


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