Rac­ing is all about the crew

Sailors love Race Week

Whitsunday Times - - ADVERTISING FEATURE -

IT’S not just the boats that per­son­ify Air­lie Beach Race Week; it’s the colour­ful crews who are al­ready mak­ing the 2017 Fes­ti­val of Sail­ing an event to re­mem­ber.

Air­lie Beach sailor Nikki Ab­bott – who to­gether with her part­ner Dan White will be sail­ing a much-loved boat called Riff Raff – said the cou­ple weren’t ini­tially sure if they would make the event this year.

“We’ve had a few dra­mas, and a few leaks here and there, and she suf­fered a fair bit of dam­age in the cy­clone. She’s been on dry land for three months,” Ms Ab­bott (who suf­fers ter­ri­ble sea sick­ness) said.

Sup­plies to fix the boat – de­scribed as “a ren­o­va­tor’s de­light” – were hard to find since the cy­clone, Ms Ab­bott said.

But when a group of friends co-or­di­nated a work­ing bee (led by Alan and Jean Sned­don), she knew there was no turn­ing back.

“Then we knew there was hope. And now, we’ll be out there, what­ever hap­pens… and we’ll have an awe­some time,” she said.

The lo­cal cou­ple, who are com­pet­ing in their sev­enth an­nual Air­lie Beach Race Week, said their com­pet­i­tive spirit kicked in when they got out on the wa­ter.

“We like to com­pete. We’re a cruis­ing boat that we’ve tried to turn into a rac­ing boat. But it’s re­ally about the fun and the ca­ma­raderie that we have.

“It’s great to see fa­mil­iar faces from pre­vi­ous years and meet new peo­ple. This is our pin­na­cle of the year … win, lose or draw,” Ms Ab­bott said.

Race Week mar­ket­ing man­ager Adrian Bram said more than 100 boats were ex­pected to take part in this year’s pop­u­lar re­gatta.

“When you get the pa­rade of yachts com­ing out of both mari­nas be­tween 9am and 10am, it’s a sea of colours,” Mr Bram said. “They’re all fly­ing their bat­tle flags, and once they get out there and pop their kites open, it’s just a fab­u­lous im­age.”

With the high­est per­son-to-boat own­er­ship in Queens­land and pos­si­bly Aus­tralia, Mr Bram said the event – founded in 1989 and now the largest yacht­ing re­gatta on the Queens­land coast – gen­er­ated huge amounts of ex­cite­ment among a com­mu­nity al­ready pas­sion­ate about the wa­ter.

Be­tween 3000 and 4000 peo­ple are ex­pected to come to the re­gion for Race Week and it is ex­pected more than $2 mil­lion will be in­jected into the lo­cal econ­omy.

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