Sunday, September 1, 2013

J/70 Loves Airlie Beach Outing

J/70 sailing Australia- Airlie Beach Regatta (Airlie Beach, Australia)- According to the Airlie Beach Chamber of Commerce, "Airlie Beach Race Week is known amongst sailing aficionados as one of the most "bucket-worthy" regattas in the world.  It’s got a laid-back attitude, perfect weather with solid trade-wind sailing, the town is a backpackers’s paradise full of hot young chicks and cheap booze, and it all comes at the perfect time for winter-bound Aussies.  Airlie is also one of the best jumping-off points to explore the Great Barrier Reef; perfect for an extended trip with some sailboat racing in the middle.  It’s a long haul from most places and you might die if you swim in the water, but on a positive note, they’ve got the best drinks cooler in all of sailing on the dock."  And, most notably, they actually deliver on that promise!

J/70 cheerleaderOfficially promoted as "The Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week", the event started off in magical conditions for all the 110 boats across the 11 divisions.  The breeze was a kind south-east eight to 10 knots inshore and up to 15 knots offshore as PRO Ross Chisholm sent the fleet off on Course 7 around the Double Cones for all.  There were plenty of battles, among the small and big boats, with some of the high achievers falling by the wayside in the soft wind and tricky tides. In the Sports Boat the skippers kept themselves under control for the first race, starting cleanly.  And, that's pretty much how it went for the rest of the week of sailing, save for one near windless but gorgeous day on the water.  The final day of racing brought smiles to the face of the sailors and race committee as the breeze kicked in as forecasted.  It was Whitsunday sailing at its best with 10 to 15 knots south-east, a manageable swell and good racing around Pioneer Bay.

J/70 sailing fast off Whitsundays, AustraliaSailing their J/70 JUNIOR for the first time in the regatta were Ray and Jill Carless from Sydney.  Here's their report of the experience which, apparently, neither would trade for the world!

"Airlie Beach is situated in the middle of the stunning group of seventy-four  Whitsunday Islands which are part of the Great Barrier Reef and is an amazing location for this iconic Australian winter race week.

With very little time to practice and still quite new to the J/70, we quickly recruit two new crew members for this highly competitive winter paradise regatta.  With the boat packed we made the 1,800km three-day drive from Sydney with ease towing the J/70 with a 2 liter diesel VW.

The line-up of sports boats were typical of the high performance machines raced in Australia and New Zealand, some up to 8m, a number with wings and trapezes, most much lighter than the J/70 being built of carbon fibre.

Airlie Beach sailing video highlightsThe wind conditions were predominantly up to 8 knots with the windiest reaching 15 knots on the first day and every day in crystal-clear, sun-sparkled, aquamarine waters.

With an impressive scoreline of 3-5-5-3-4-3-4-2 and a drop of 8th, our performance for the week improved as the two new J/70 crew got used to the boat.

In short, we had a fantastic time! The J/70 is amazing! Anyone who doubts this is a good and economical way to run a modern sports boat should look at our results.  We were the only boat in the fleet to have Dacron upwind sails and only one of each sail, ie. 1 main, 1 jib, 1 spinnaker, as per the J/70 class rules.

All of the other boats were sporting exotic sails and most had multiple jibs and spinnakers.  This sounds too expensive and complicated to us, we just want to go sailing and have fun!

That we did and had a great time with a very good result as we get to learn the J/70. There is obviously more to be had out of this great little machine from the J/Boat stable and little wonder over 500 have now been sold in a very short space of time.   

How best to sum it all up?  Long drive, blue sky, little wind, much fun, great result!”

Sailing photo credits-   Shirley Wodson - Shirley Wodson Photography     Julie Geldard - Video Picture Promotions

Airlie Beach Race Week YouTube sailing video highlights:     Day 1 Sailing summary   Day 2 Sailing summary    Day 3 Sailing summary   Day 4 Sailing summary   For more Airlie Beach Race Week sailing information