Picture perfect start to Airle Beach Race Week
BLUE skies and sparkling seas formed the backdrop to the 24th annual Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week, which started on Saturday.
Racing began in magical conditions for the 110 boats spread across 11 divisions.
On Saturday, the breeze was a kind south-east eight to 10 knots inshore and up to 15 knots offshore as PRO Ross Chisholm sent the fleet off on the ArmitCones course.
There were plenty of battles among the small and big boats, with some of the high achievers falling by the wayside in the soft wind and tricky tides.
First off were the multihull divisions 1 and 2, signalling the start of the Australian Multihull Championships.
At the end of day one it was the ‘dark horse’, the Sea-Cart 30 Morticia, that took out handicap honours in Division 1 ahead of Malice and APC Mad Max.
The IRC Racing Division entrants were tight on the line at the gun.
With the expectation of an abating breeze, Quest skipper Bob Steele expected to be battling with his arch rival Victoire, but by the end of the 31-mile race and with the breeze holding at about 15 knots outside the islands Quest was across the finish line well ahead.
“There weren’t any challenges out there, just a beautiful day in paradise. We did well,” Steele said.
Steele came in first on handicap ahead of defending champion and Whitsunday skipper Berrnie Van’t Hof ( Tulip).
Racing was also close in the Performance Division. Sneaking into first place was Philip Grove’s Huntress. Ichi Ban was second, just 29 seconds ahead of Menace on corrected time.
In the cruising divisions Rob Date’s Scarlett Runner and race week founder Don Algie’s Storm 2 were first off the blocks. At the end of race one, Mike Roper’s Ropabull was the leader on handicap ahead of Storm 2 and Eureka II.
Division 2 leader on the first leg was local boat, Wobbly Boot (Craig Piccinelli), who was overtaken by another local, Mike Keyte, whose Beneteau 40 Take Flight finished first on handicap.
In Cruising Division 3 there was nothing between the two Clubman 8s, Synchronicity and Kameruka at the finish.
While the first race of the regatta set the tone, light winds and further battles will mean the trophies are still anyone’s to grab.
Results are updated daily and can be viewed at www.airlieraceweek.com.
GO: Monohulls underway at the start of the 24th annual Airlie Beach Race Week on Saturday.
SPINNAKERS SET: Performance division yachts including Whitsunday competitor Another Fiasco (third from left) sailing under spinnaker on regatta day one.
LOCAL ICON: Whitsunday boat Condor is competing in the Cruising Division 1 of Airlie Beach Race Week, before heading to the 30th anniversary regatta at Hamilton Island next week.
READY, SET, SAIL: Multihull divisions 1 and 2 on the start line in day one of the Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week.