Multis mix it with monohulls in last year's mass start. Photo: Andrea Francolini, Airlie Beach Race Week
Multis mix it with monohulls in last year's mass start. Photo: Andrea Francolini, Airlie Beach Race Week

It’s here! Race Week motors ahead despite restrictions

SAILORS will not be hindered by the sudden border closure announcement yesterday as Airlie Beach Race Week is set to officially begin today.

Registration and briefings will take place today before 60 boats across eight classes head off for the first race of the event tomorrow.

While boats from across Australia and the world usually take part, organisers are still pleased with the numbers despite coronavirus restrictions.

Race director Ross Chisholm said he was thrilled to see the number and calibre of the entries set to race in the 32nd instalment of the week-long event, which runs from today until next Thursday, August 13.

Chisholm stressed the welfare of competitors, volunteers and officials was paramount and comprehensive COVID Safe procedures had been put in place.


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Onshore events have been scaled down to involve no more than 150 guests each night at the Whitsunday Sailing Club.

"By limiting numbers in attendance at club presentations and dinners we can ensure social distancing and keep everyone safe," he said.

The week will begin with a mass start for the opening race day, meaning all classes will start at the same time, from 10am Friday, weather dependant.

It will make for a stunning sight as some of Australia's best offshore racing yachts line up and race with the fast multihulls, sports boats, cruisers and trailable yachts in the beautiful Whitsunday islands.

Event chairman and marketing director Adrian Bram said yesterday's announcement the Queensland border would shut to New South Wales at 1am Saturday had not impacted the event.

There is only a small number of competitors from New South Wales, he said.

"It's pretty much a Queensland event with a few New South Wales sailors who had themselves and their vessels in the state long before any restrictions were put in place," he said.

Mr Bram said approved COVID Safe plans would be in place and the Sailing Club was not raising its capacity numbers above the levels allowed on any other day.

"It's not the festival event we're used to but we're very pleased to still be able to put on the regatta for all those sailors who have been hanging out to get out there," he said.

Airlie Beach Race Week 2019.
Airlie Beach Race Week 2019.

Owner of Anka's Away John Fowell said he sailed his Ross 780 Mk2 for the first time at Race Week last year and was looking forward to taking it out on the water this year.

"The year before we won with my previous boat, First Born," he said.

"This time I'm hoping the boat is better set up and we get a better result.

"We have three other Ross boats to race against, so we're calling it the Ross Intergalactic title."

Mr Fowell said there was a bit of rivalry between his crew and the previous owners of Anka's Away.

"The boys that now own Revival, Ian Vonk and co, used to own Anka's Away. We definitely want to beat them.

"There is a point to prove there, especially as that boat is a Ross 780 Mk3."

Airlie Beach Race Week registration will take place today and the event will run all week, with winners announced next Thursday.

Spectators wanting to follow racing on the water can do so from the stable deck of Sundowner, the official spectator cruise vessel, which has seating for 40 people and an on-board bar.

Passengers will receive pastries and a glass of bubbles as part of the package.

All bookings are to be made in advance via or phone 4948 3000.

For all restaurant and event bookings, email

For more information about Airlie Beach Race week visit

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