Airlie Beach Race Week 2012 is off with a bang!
Yachties are usually slow to enter events, often booking their accommodation and berthing before bothering to enter, much to the despair of event organisers trying to plan all the elements of an event, from the social side to on water management.
But Airlie Beach Race Week 2012 is certainly different this year. The Notice of Race and online entry were only announced on Monday, and just four days later 25 boats have entered the 23rd annual tropical shirt regatta.
The reason is no doubt the change in berthing arrangements with boats having to make their own bookings with Abel Point marina, rather than it being an automatic part of their race entry fee. (This is because the marina, though busier than ever, is part of a wider property development receivership.)
The Multihull division, often the afterthought at so many regatta's, will be amazing this year with the two fastest yachts in the southern hemisphere, Sean Langman's Team Australia coming to do battle with Kiwi Simon Hull's Team Vodafone Sailing. There might be the Hakka dockside.
The IRC Racing and IRC Cruising divisions and Performance divisions will be strong with the smart boats being right on the pace by the end of the week, ready to make a serious impact at Hamilton Island. Year after year you see the boats that have raced at Airlie Beach at the front of the Hamilton fleets after the first three days.
The Cruising divisions of this Airlie Beach regatta just keep growing, probably because of the wonderful entertainment, dining and accommodation options on the 'big island'. More and more cruisers are sailing this regatta then heading north to Magnetic Island Race Week (August 30th to September 4th this year) to keep exploring.
The Sports Boat fleet at Airlie Beach has been for many years the largest gathering in Australia. No doubt the August south easterly trade winds, the warm water and the wonderfully sheltered Pioneer Bay have much to do with this.
And of course there is great race management from Denis Thompson and his team.
And too the social program... on and off the water
If you are planning to be at this iconic event, which runs from August 10th to 16th 2012 – enter now!!
And book your marina berth now too!!