Please select your home edition
Noble Marine 2022 SW - LEADERBOARD

Airlie Beach Race Week: Déjà vu as racing delayed

by Di Pearson / ABRW 15 Aug 23:44 UTC 10-17 August 2023
Mothers and calf take an interest in the boats - Airlie Beach Race Week © Andrea Francolini

Another warm sunny morning at Airlie Beach Race Week (ABRW) on Day 5, but racing has already been postponed due to identical conditions to yesterday's - blue skies, balmy weather, but no wind, as the Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC) race management team grappled with how to get some racing in.

"We're hoping for breeze later today, a light nor'-easter," said highly respected Race Officer Kevin Wilson who has worked all over the world at major sailing events.

"There will be no racing until at least 11.55am," Wilson said after his team met to discuss the situation. This after they were forced to cancel racing in many classes on Sunday and yesterday when the wind gods went on strike.

The gods were aided and abetted by an extremely low tide yesterday, meaning yachts with deeper keels could not get in and out of the marinas by the time a light breeze filled in.

"It takes a lot of discussion with the team to make these decisions. We know competitors have come here expecting to race."

Today's plan, if racing can be held, is to set two windward/leeward courses on Pioneer Bay. Multihull Divisions 0, 1, 2, Multihull Passage, the Trailable & Sports Boat divisions, along with the F16/18s and Weta trimarans will go to battle on one course area, while the monohull divisions will take the other.

"To get two races in would be a bonus," a hopeful Wilson said.

The Race Management team is stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea when it comes to making these decisions, based on what is in everyone's best interest, not to mention what is possible. As the old saying goes, 'You can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time'.

One of the start boats is named 'Fishing Impossible', which raised a laugh this morning, as right now, that is all that is possible.

We spoke to a couple of competitors about Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing, including Mark Tolhurst, who in owners' Andy Kearnan and Peter Wrigley's absence, is skippering the TP52 Koa, which is currently in second place to Ray Roberts' Team Hollywood.

Tolhurst, known more for racing in the 5.5 Metre and Etchells keelboat classes, explained, "I skippered Koa here for the first time last year. I love the racing up here. It's the right time of year, the weather is right, everything is right.

"We won Race 3 on the second day up to the Molles. It was beautiful. Ray (Roberts) has a very competitive boat, as do others," Tolhurst said referring to the likes of 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart winner, Alive (Phillip Turner).

"Like them, we are here to try to win. We're lucky to have Steve McConaghy calling tactics. Three of our team left yesterday and three new ones came in. They're all experienced sailors," Tolhurst said.

Vesna Wells has sailed her Shaw 12, Blink, all the way from New Zealand to race in IRC/ORCi Division 1 against some of Australia's top boats at the 35th running of ABRW.

"We sailed over here from Evans Bay Yacht Club (Wellington, New Zealand). It's our first time at Airlie Beach and our first regatta in Australia," crew member Conny Rohr explained. "From here, we'll go to Hamilton Island to race, then we'll sail the boat home.

"We were smoking in the first race on the first day, until we had sub-optimal kite drop and let the fleet pass us."

"We like heavier wind with the Shaw 12, so the lighter weather (on the second day) and our handicap has kept us out of a placing," she admitted.

"I'm loving it here," said another crew member, Jason Hurdle. "The weather is great, the food at the Club (WSC) is too, this regatta's got everything."

Tomorrow is the final day of ABRW, so a reminder to those that wish to buy regatta clothing from Duncan Curnow and his team at Quality Marine Clothing, they can still do so today and tomorrow following racing. The full range can be viewed and orders placed at:

Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and is a feature on the It's Live! in Queensland events calendar.

For full results in all classes, please visit

Related Articles

2023 Airlie Beach Race Week overall
Victors reap the spoils The final day and no wind to speak of on the horizon on an otherwise beautiful sunny day, as officials at Whitsunday Sailing Club's (WSC) 35th Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sail waited until near the 1pm cut off, unable to drum up a skerrick of wind. Posted on 17 Aug
2023 Airlie Beach Race Week day 6 morning report
Final races to decide trophies in tight pointscores The final races at Airlie Beach Race Week (ABRW) today will decide the winners across the various divisions at Whitsunday Sailing Club's (WSC) 35th running of its signature event and signs are that racing should get away from 11.30am. Posted on 17 Aug
2023 Airlie Beach Race Week day 5
Tight racing on windward/leeward courses Racing on Day 5 started later than the planned 10am, as competitors and officials alike again waited for a constant light breeze to fill in - and their patience was rewarded - shortly after midday racing was under way on a spectacular sunny day. Posted on 16 Aug
2023 Airlie Beach Race Week day 4
Two classes get racing in An outgoing tide and no breeze to speak of, meant race officials at Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC) were up against it to get any racing in on Day 4 of Airlie Beach Race Week (ABRW), even though a breeze teased after the AP flag went up ashore. Posted on 15 Aug
Will conditions play ball on Day 4?
Competitors made the most of lay day at Airlie Beach Race Week Day 4 of Airlie Beach Race Week after competitors made the most of lay day yesterday, sightseeing and shopping locally, or on adventures further afoot, returning this morning to find organisers at Whitsunday SC had displayed AP ashore with a 9.45am. Posted on 15 Aug
2023 Airlie Beach Race Week Day 3
Too light and fluky for most - just four divisions race Another sunny light air day Airlie Beach Race Week on Day 3, officials at WSC out searching for steady breeze, but struggled to get racing in, just four divisions raced while the rest floated around and watched whales at play and took in the scenery. Posted on 13 Aug
Search for light breeze at Airlie Beach Race Week
The bulk of the fleet set further north to make the best of the breeze on day 3 Day 3 at Airlie Beach Race Week (ABRW) and officials at Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC) warned the forecast was for a 5-10 knot east/south-easterly, which meant sending the bulk of the fleet further north to make the best of the breeze. Posted on 13 Aug
2023 Airlie Beach Race Week Day 2
A light breeze day - with tide Racing continued today in a light breeze on a typically balmy Whitsundays day, but all were kept on their toes as the tide played a big roll and found some stranded ashore for a time when they took things a little too far. Posted on 12 Aug
Light winds expected at Airlie Beach Race Week
The 152 entries line up on Pioneer Bay for the first starts Day 2 at Airlie Beach Race Week (ABRW) and the 152 entries lined up on Pioneer Bay for the first starts at 10am on another blue skied sunny day with a light breeze of 10 knots expected on the various course areas today. Posted on 12 Aug
2023 Airlie Beach Race Week Day 1
Spectacular mass start on a perfect day A mass start for the fleet at Airlie Beach Race Week and ideal sailing conditions of up to 20 knots as a gloomy sky developed into a sunny blue day on Pioneer Bay when officials fired the first gun for Whitsunday SC 35th running of its annual event. Posted on 11 Aug
Marine Products Direct 2023 - Calypso FOOTERCyclops Marine 2023 November - FOOTERNoble Marine 2022 SW - FOOTER