Big names prepare for Airlie showdown
SEVERAL famous boats and equally famous sailors with speed as their focus are ready for a showdown at Airlie Beach Race Week, to be held from August 10–17.
The Whitsunday Sailing Club’s annual Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing has enticed the likes of Andrew York who is bringing his latest sleek one-design keel boat from Sydney for the first time.
“Yorky,” an accomplished yachtsman with America’s Cups, offshore and one-design triumphs on his resume, is also decorated small boat sailor who comes to Airlie Beach armed with four national and two NSW keel boat titles, won via his VX One, and more recently, with the slightly longer offshoot he developed, the REO 7.2.
In a nod to their speed, both boats carry the name Speedwagon, the latest, REO Speedwagon, is providing him with a real buzz.
“It’s exceptionally quick off the breeze, we’ve sailed it at over 20 knots countless times,” Yorky said.
“My plans for the year include taking REO Speedwagon to Airlie Beach Race Week for the first time, where I’ll sail four up in the Sports Boat division.
“We’re really looking forward to competing.”
The Sydney-sider is pinning all hopes on beating defending champion Returned, the Leech 750 owned by Graham Sherring, who remains in fine form.
The 2015 champion and fellow Queenslanders, Gary Smith and John Rae with their Bethwaite 79er Vivace, are also expected to be major competition.
Among a wide variety of boats in the Performance Racing division are two completely disparate designs: Adrian Walters’ two year old Rob Shaw 11 Metre, Little Nico and Colin and Denise Wilson’s 15 year-old MKL49, Never a Dull Moment.
Little Nico is enviably fast and is also making her Airlie Beach debut. Walters has been testing the water with his carbon fibre canting keel harbour racing yacht locally in Sydney since her launch.
In the same division is Never a Dull Moment, the 49 footer that the husband and wife Wilson team have enjoyed a long and distinguished ocean racing career with. In recent times they have confined themselves to local Sydney offshore races.
“We love Airlie Beach Race Week and can’t wait to compete again – we last raced there in 2014 and had a lot of fun; it’s always fun,” Denise Wilson said.
Husband Colin chipped in, “We’re always made to feel welcome and you can’t beat the weather – a nice escape from winter in Sydney.”
For entry details visit the ABRW website.
SAIL ON: Local yacht Condor will be competing in the 2017 Airlie Beach Race Week.