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Record fleet for 34th regatta  

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THERE’S BEEN plenty of action during the first few days of the Airlie Beach Race Week (ABRW) Festival of Sailing, which started last Thursday, with registration, and went into Friday with Day One of racing.

The mass start on the opening day enthralled onlookers, as a record fleet of 178 boats set off across Pioneer Bay, in winds of 15 knots from the south-east blowing down on vessels, and then petering out for the second line – making for an interesting day and some surprise results.

Once the start was dealt with, the IRC/ORC Division 1, PHS Racing, Multihull Division 1 and Cruising Division 1 sailed a 23 nautical mile course, taking in Double Cone and Gumbrell Islands, Grimston to the finish.

The remaining divisions, barring the F16, F18 and Wetas, also sailed a 23nm course, but were caught at the start, as the breeze faded to almost nothing.

Their course slightly deviated to the other, going from Double Cone to Armit Island, Grimston to the finish, while the off-the-beach classes sailed a separate course, taking in the Whitsunday Islands.  

On Day Two of racing, competitors were initially held ashore, as organisers at the Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC) monitored a very light and variable breeze.

Eventually, however, everyone headed out to Pioneer Bay and waited, until there was no choice but to abandon racing for the day, at around 1pm.  

But there was still plenty of action. A new owner topped the podium in the opening race when Terrance Stevens sailed his Bavaria Match 35, Matchless, to a win in the PHS Non-Spinnaker division.

Stevens, from WSC, had a variety of reasons to celebrate, including beating two other local boats in Peter Harrison’s previous ABRW winner, Awesome, and John Galloway’s QMS Ponyo. 

“We had a bit of luck,” admitted Stevens, who moved to Airlie Beach about 20 years ago and only purchased Matchless in June. This was his first major regatta with the yacht.

“We’re still sorting the boat out.”

“The boat goes fairly well in light conditions, and it goes well in over 10 knots. We got the sail combination right yesterday and the guys know how to pick the wind.

“The average age on board is 68, so we have around 300 years of experience on board! We’re all locals, so local knowledge came into it too.”    

PHS Cruising Division 1 went to Adam Griffin’s Fourth Dimension IV, which won from Paul Mara’s Helsal III and Peter Lowndes’ Wine Dark Sea.

Lowndes’ Lyons 49 recently received a new carbon rig in anticipation of the next Melbourne Osaka Double Handed Yacht Race. It was an all-NSW podium in this Division.

Holy Cow! from Sydney won PHS Cruising Division 2 from Remco Penn’s Bigger Day Out (Vic) and John Cray’s Sea Bass (Qld).

On Sunday (Day Three), Team Hollywood made it two from two.

Following an hour’s delay in racing, as officials waited for the breeze to fill in, Ray Roberts and his Team Hollywood (NSW) added a further win to their Day One victory to take command of IRC/ORC Division 1.

The Botin 40 led the division after two days of racing. Anthony Kirke’s newly purchased Enterprise Next Gen (WA) and Gordon Ketelbey’s Zen (NSW) were second and third respectively.

“I am very happy to have both wins,” Roberts said, adding ‘Hollywood’ had been competing at Airlie Beach for years.

Monday (August 15) was a lay day, with crews enjoying entertainment from the All Stars with Emma Pask, and the Mason Rack Band, at the sailing club.

Racing was set to continue on Tuesday (August 16), as the Whitsunday News went to print. Full, up-to-date results are available at: www.abrw.com.au

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