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Airlie Beach Race Week - Day 1 is a drifter

by Di Pearson / ABRW media 7 Aug 17:33 BST 6-13 August 2020
This picture tells the day's story - Airlie Beach Race Week, day 1 © Shirley Wodson / ABRW

A long, long Day 1 on the water for the 64 boats taking part in the Whitsunday Sailing Club's (WSC) 2020 Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays Festival of Sailing, as winds failed to materialise for most of the day, meaning most spent the day drifting around the course in fog and drizzling rain.

Today's mass start for opener should have been impressive; instead most found it difficult to cross the start on Pioneer Bay. Rating Passage to Multihull, Cruising, Trailable, Sports Boats and Performance divisions boats all gathered on the start line, their crews trying to see through the fog and misty rain.

Normally Airlie Beach puts on the sun and plenty of breeze, but the opposite happened forcing officials to shorten the course.

"It was most unlike the usual sailing in Airlie Beach," Ray Roberts commented from his Team Hollywood.

The Sydneysider won IRC Rating Passage with his Botin 40, from David Currie's modified Farr 40 Ponyo (Vic). Glenn Burrell, the new owner of Black Diamond, a quick RP42 previously named Black Jack, did well to finish third in their first major outing.

"We had little wind, lots of rain and clouds," Roberts said. "At times we couldn't see the top mark. It was strange. You just had to perform, get into some smart light air racing.

"We got off the line well and got a jump on Envy Scooters (Barry Cuneo's 2019 Sydney Gold Coast winning TP52) our main opposition. We put up a Code Zero and they tried to overtake us, but we blocked them. We kept our distance from them until the last half kilometre when they sailed past us," Roberts said.

"I have the Wilmot brothers Jamie and Bobby (top notch sailors) with us and for the first time, Roni (Ormandlaki) from Roni Rigging make his first appearance on Team Hollywood - he's racing with us and looking after our rigging," he said of the Hungarian who skippered Stay Calm Hungary in last year's Rolex Sydney Hobart.

"It was a good all-round performance by the whole team," Roberts said.

Local sailor Thomas Jordan cleaned up in the Trailable Yachts division. "I don't think there's anything that could have helped us today, with light wind from every direction," a laughing Jordan said when asked if being a local helped today.

"No it was my all-girl crew," admitted Jordan who sails three up on his Ross 780 named Lunasea. "The racing was very close; tit-for-tat, a dingdong battle," he said after beating another Ross 780, Anka's Away (John Fowell) to the punch.

"I'd like to thank the committee and volunteers - they did a great job in getting a race in at all for us," ended Jordan.

Meanwhile, Damian Suckling sailed Top Gear to the top of the Performance Racing leaderboard, beating out Tony Ritter's #Spank and Goggles' Mister Magoo by a huge margin.

"I like light air, because it's really testing, more technical. Anyone can sail in wind. It takes a bit of patience too, sailing in half a knot. You can lose the plot; you need to concentrate," explained Suckling, who is representing WSC.

"We sailed closely with #Spank (Tony Ritter) for most of the race and then Vivace (John Rae) towards the end. We finished at Double Cones, rather than going around it, because the committee shortened the course. We could have still been out there had they hadn't."

On a final note, Suckling commented, "I'm looking forward to more of the light air tomorrow."

And it seems he will get his wish, as the weather forecast is predicting more of the same for Day 2.

Other winners on Day 1 included Dale Mitchell with his newly purchased ORMA 60, named Orma 60. Mitchell and his brother Paul are always the ones to beat in the Multihull class, together and independently. Today they beat a past winner to the punch in Terry Archer's G'Nome. Both boats represent the host Club, WSC.

Racing continues from 10am tomorrow for all classes.

For full results and all information, including social bookings, please visit:

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