Vivace powers through the water.
Vivace powers through the water. Shirley Wodson

Supreme sailing at Airlie Beach Race Week

THE CURTAIN will fall on another successful Airlie Beach Race Week today.

Now in its 31st year, the week-long event has drawn a 114-strong fleet, who in the main have enjoyed perfect sailing conditions in the Whitsundays.

Pioneer Bay has provided the perfect vehicle for sailors, photographers and spectators.

 

A spot of downwind competition.
A spot of downwind competition. Andrea Francolini

Queensland's largest mainland regatta has been bolstered by the inclusion of the Australian Multihull Championship.

Leading the charge has been local boat Ullman Sails, skippered by Paul Mitchell.

 

Cruisers at Double Cone Island.
Cruisers at Double Cone Island. Andrea Francolini

Ullman Sails held a commanding lead in the Division 1 category on Tuesday night, having won three of the five races contested.

The crew is like well-oiled machinery where the word 'error' does not come into play.

 

The Boat Works and High Voltage tussle.
The Boat Works and High Voltage tussle. Shirley Wodson

Leading the chasing pack is High Voltage, skippered by Mike Peberdy, who landed a win on day three.

"The crew work was sensational, the guys did a great job," he said.

"We've come close a couple of times, so we're pumped to win and to have such close racing with the Extremes, and the other boats."

 

Ragtime finds her mojo.
Ragtime finds her mojo. Andrea Francolini

In the multihull Division 2, Whitsunday Sailing Club trio Overdrive (fourth), G'Nome (sixth) and Nixe (seventh) are chasing Evil Gnome, while Vivacious, Seamore and Living Life are locked in a three-way tussle for the multihull passage.

The IRC Racing boats were the first cabs off the rank on day four.

Marcus Blackmore's Hooligan prevailed over the other TP52, Zen (Gordon Ketelbey) by nearly three minutes on the water, but only nine seconds when the times were corrected out.

 

Hooligan means business.
Hooligan means business. Andrea Francolini

Ray Roberts' Botin 40, Team Hollywood, was third, making it an all-NSW show.

"The courses here are good. We have a mixture - and I like a mixture. It's a great place to race," Blackmore said.

"Zen's obviously our main competition here. It's an older boat, but well sailed. They had the edge on us at the start ... and we pretty well went round the top mark together. From there, we led, but it was close and could have gone either way.

 

Crank cranks it up.
Crank cranks it up. Andrea Francolini

"When we got around the island (Denman), we ran out of air a bit, then at another point they ran out of air. It was an interesting race."

Hooligan moved three points clear of Zen on the overall standings.

In the performance class FarEast 28R leads the way from Kraken and Whereswal 11.

 

Zen and Hooligan hard at it.
Zen and Hooligan hard at it. Andrea Francolini

Whereswal 11 skipper Roger Jepson is enjoying his seventh appearance at Airlie Beach Race Week and the chance to get away from Melbourne's cold weather.

"We love it up here," he said.

"It's really competitive, the weather's fantastic and you don't get a better part of the world to sail in. It's lovely up here.

"We sail out of Brighton and we drive 2400 kilometres to get here, but it's worth it."

 

The start line on day one of Airlie Beach Race Week, now its 31st year.
The start line on day one of Airlie Beach Race Week, now its 31st year. Andrea Francolini

All the fun hasn't been restricted to the water, with the legion of onshore events, including live music throughout the weekat the Whitsunday Sailing Club proving a big hit.

The Pirate Life Craft Beer and Fantastic Food Pairing Lunch and Spanish-themed Long Lunch last weekend were both well-attended, as too the Northerlies Beach Bar and Grill Family Fun Day on Tuesday.