Thirtieth Airlie Beach Race Week officially launched
ENTRIES for the 30th anniversary instalment of Airlie Beach Race Week have only been open for two weeks and already 22 yachts have signed on to compete in August.
The event was officially launched at the Whitsunday Sailing club on Thursday night with organisers and sponsors taking part in the celebration of the 30-year milestone.
Airlie Beach Race Week marketing director Adrian Bram said he expected entrant numbers to be up from last year.
But although entrant numbers were down in the wake of Cyclone Debbie, last year's on-shore participation rate was the best so far in the 30-year history of the event.
"We actually had more more non-sailing participants," he said.
"The total attendees last year was just over 10,000 and previous year was 9,900 so we actually grew the on-shore event last year."
The record number of entries of 123 yachts was set in 2016, Mr Bram said that number in 2018 could be blown out of the water.
Certainly the big boat fleet in the IRC class after the signing on of Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race-winner Ichi Ban is expected to provide plenty of competition at the pointy end of the field.
In January Ichi Ban claimed Division 1 of the Australian Yachting Championship in Melbourne and won all eight races.
"Ichi Ban coming on board has created a ground swell of competition determined to beat him and we are expecting quite a large big boat fleet," Mr Bram said.
Owner of Ichi Ban and Airlie Beach home owner, Matt Allen said he was looking forward to the event which runs form August 10-16.
Mr Bram said the event was an affordable, exciting and fun event and this year would introduce sponsored presentation nights which he said would be very attractive to sailors.
Registration Day is on Thursday August 9 and racing starts on Friday August 10, finishing on Thursday August 16.
There will be races each day except the lay-day on Monday August 13.
Racing is across multiple divisions, including IRC, PHS, cruising, sportsboats, one-design and multihulls, and takes place around the breathtaking islands of the Whitsunday Passage and in Pioneer Bay.