5 September, 2018

One last race brings SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week to a close

Paul Clitheroe finally got the ‘Balance’ right today – missed all the holes to win the final race in IRC at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week today. but it was David Fuller’s Vamp, which already had the series stitched up yesterday and today he added to a second place to his tally of four wins and a further second place.

Fuller, from NSW, is as pleased as punch, sailing his Corby 49 for the first time at the Townsville Yacht Club (TYC) organised regatta.

“A beautiful breeze for the final day, with racing starting on time. It reached a maximum of 12 knots. It was consistent all day – no holes – no tricky shifts. A Fitting finale,” Fuller said. The two bigger boats got away in their conditions and Balance showed her true colours today – it was TP52 weather.”

Fuller and his crew have loved every minute of their time here. “It’s a great regatta. We’ll definitely be back. Events like this are precious – especially for someone of my vintage. You can’t even plan a year ahead,” the 75 year-old said.

Paul Ley’s Pilgrim from NSW is the SeaLink Spinnaker Division 1 winner. They have sailed well all week, so deserved their second place today to take the overall win, beaten to the punch by Sam Pavic’s Beneteau Sense 500, Little Miss Sunshine.

The crew on Ley’s Kaufman 58 included Peter Lowndes, who normally sails his own boat, Wine Dark Sea, here and who has just missed a win a couple of times – but he was smiling today.

No slouch, Lowndes helped Ley to the boat’s win, along with navigator, Matt Wenke, who, Ley said, “II want to give him a special mention. He put us in all the right places. My crew worked so well together this week; it’s a win for all of us.”

Ley also thanked the handicappers. “They don’t get praised often, but going into the day, we were tied for first place – it was ours too lose. Five boats could have won the division – that’s good handicapping.”

Pilgrim is a charter boat that spends winter in Queensland and summer in Sydney. “We have the best of both worlds and I have a home on Magnetic Island and one in Sydney,” Ley said.

“It’s a great old boat, she still shows the modern boats a thing or too.” There were some truly beautiful boats in this division – old and new.

Champagne, the Beneteau Oceanis 45 owned by TYC director Mal Pirret, could not shake Pilgrim and took Division 1 second overall after finishing equal third today.

Gary Anderson’s Lunacy, a Hanse 445, won Division 2 from Rob Rainsford’s Hanse 40, Y Knot, keeping in the family somewhat, not only design wise, but because both are from Victoria. 

“Wings (Ian Edwards’ Dehler 36) and Y Knot were my toughest opponents all week,” Anderson said.

“Weather was frustrating, our boat likes a bit of breeze. But the organisers did a good job getting us around the course each day.

“This is our third time at Magnetic Island and we are all Sandringham Yacht Club crew,” said Anderson who will move from Rear-Commodore to Vice Commodore at the next election. On his crew too is SYC past Commodore Chris Carlile and Ashley Trebilcock, the Commodore elect.  

“We are very excited; it hasn’t really sunk in yet. I will when we’ve finished packing the boat up and get to the prize giving,” he said.

Yesterday’s Division 3 leader, Nauti-I-Lass-Too (Qld) has taken top honours after finishing sixth today. Nev Edwards had enough in the bag to defeat John Brand’s Star Ferry, which took second place overall after it third place in the final race. Grant Chipperfield’s Joker on Tourer (Vic) took third place, helped by former America’s Cup bowman, Peter Dowdney.

But it was a Townsville Yacht Club boat which got the gun today, when Justin Van Stom’s Cal 36, Calico pipped another Townsville boat by just 20 seconds - the popular Soul Sister, owned and skippered by Donna Dewhurst.

It was a long day on the water for some of the Multihull Division. Eventually it was a local that took out first overall, when Graeme Etherton’s ‘The Boat’ won the final race to claim the crown from Dennis Coleman’s Mistress and the all-female crew on the Sharon Ferris-Choat skippered Ave Gitana from New Zealand.

The Boat, a Crowther Windspeed 32 cat turned the tables on Mistress, also from Townsville, which Etherton finished second to last year.

Organisers at Townsville Yacht Club thank competitors and officials alike, with a special thank you to the volunteers, who give up their time each year to help out. What and where would we be without them?

All other results will be posted to the website when available at:       

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

4 September, 2018

A long way to travel – but Tasmanians love SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

Three boats and numerous other sailors have made the long distance trip all the way from Tasmania to SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week in Northern Queensland – it’s a regatta that appeals to sailors from all walks of life, from club racers to Olympic and America’s Cup sailors. 

Brett and Jacinta Cooper are here with their family; daughters Jorja 14 and Indy 12, plus Jacinta’s 77 year-old mum, all sailing on the Cooper’s luxury Beneteau 57, Mistraal. They have sailed all the way from Hobart, stopping off at various races along the way. 

The Hobart pair has done it all, from local races to the Rolex Sydney Hobart and they have been enjoying Queensland’s ‘norther circuit’, which typically starts with the Sydney Gold Coast Race and finishes here at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, Australia’s friendliest and most relaxed regatta, according to all you speak to.

They left home in April and will return home soon. “Oh well,” she says, realising the holiday is coming to an end.

“We first came in 2013. Two apartments were for sale at Peppers and we bought them. Now we come every school holidays – we love it here,” Jacinta says.

“The kids love riding their bikes; that’s what they’re doing now, and swimming, there’s lots to do,” she says.

As to the racing, Jacinta says, “We’re a sea boat, big and heavy, it’s been very light weather, but here it matters less for us. It’s just fun.”

And they do bring new meaning to fun – on the race course. “We had the barby fired up and were cooking prawns and sausages just before the start of the race and it was still going when we started,” she said amid laughter.

Husband Brett had just finished up doing the SB20 Nationals in Hobart which he and the crew won. They finished sixth at the Worlds, best of the Aussies.

“We have to go home because I’m campaigning the SB20 Europeans and we need to get training,” Brett says.

“We love it here at Maggie Island. It’s not every day you get to sail with your family. Jorja did offshore races with us from a very young age – she’s crossed Bass Strait. The girls enjoy the boat and sailing it – they’ve done hundreds of miles already with home schooling thrown in.”

Brett says of Magnetic Island Race Week, “This is a laid-back friendly event – and what a venue. We get a private concert every night too,” he says of their berth just behind the stage at Peppers Resort where the entertainment is each night.

Hughie Lewis, a famous Hobart yachtie is here again too. He’s been loaned David Currie’s Farr 40, Ponyo.

“It all started with us offering David our spare main when his was torn at Magnetic Island last year. Now he’s kindly loaned us the boat,” Lewis explains.

He and the crew opted out of IRC Racing and instead are in Spinnaker Division 4. “We want to have fun here – and using David’s boat we don’t want to put ourselves in any situation where we might damage it by sailing in the cut-and-thrust of IRC,” the Tasmanian admits.

“We have a group that doesn’t always sail together, including some friends. We’re ‘Gerry and the Atrics’; we’ve got to get our Zimmer frames on the boat somehow,” he says amid laughter.

Ponyo has had her moments, winning Race 2, but her performances have been up and down in the mainly light airs this week.

For all information including full results:       

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

5 September, 2018

Kiwi Olympian at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week in support of Magenta Project

Double Olympian across two classes, Volvo Ocean racer, GC32 foiling cat series sailor, speed record chaser; New Zealand’s Sharon Ferris-Choat has done it all - this week she is at Townsville Yacht Club’s SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, skippering an all-female crew on the trimaran, Ave Gitana, and encouraging more women to sail at the elite level.  

Ferris-Choat is an ambassador for the ‘Magenta Project’, set up by high-profile sailors, Libby Greenhalgh, Abby Ehler, Sally Barkow and Annie Lush, whose mission is to accelerate women to the top of sailing.

“When the Magenta Project first started, they asked several sailors to be ambassadors. They asked that when we’re away sailing, we support and help women get to the elite level - so we support and promote what they are doing,” says Ferris-Choat, who is doing an incredible job.  

As much as anything else, the Kerikeri sailor has lately been doing the circuit on the Crowther 40 trimaran loaned to her by old friend, Antonio Pasquale, who encouraged her to do the 654 nautical mile Groupama Race (around New Caledonia) with a female crew.

“In March Antonio called me to see if I wanted to use his boat for the Groupama – the program started from there. He is incredibly generous, supportive - wants to help women’s sailing. Now other people want to copy what he’s doing. He is a pioneer,” Ferris Choat says.

With little time on the boat, and a female crew who had not sailed together before, it was always going to be a challenge. But the women handled themselves with aplomb to finish second multihull over the line. “We had five girls aboard – what a ride.”

After that came a speed challenge from New Caledonia to Brisbane, Australia, the Brisbane to Keppel race, another speed challenge from Keppel Island to Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays, then Hamilton Island and SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Weeks.

“Jo Breen (an Aussie who finished fourth in the 2018 Melbourne Osaka two-handed race aboard her Morning Star) and Paige Cook (a Kiwi keelboat sailor) have been the core crew.  

“I’ve opened it up to other girls to gain experience and race on a really awesome boat,” says Ferris Choat, whose crew here are Breen, Cook, her sister Bianca, Australian double Olympian Krystal Weir and Aussie Hobie sailor, Sarah Pugh. 

“It’s been light; all part of the test. Our handicap has rocketed, so it’s about beating the clock. It’s great racing – Mistress, we call her our baby sister (Dennis Coleman’s Corsair Sprint Mk1 which does bear a smaller resemblance to Ave Gitana) – we’ve been battling them all week.”

Today is the decider. The lead has swapped between the pair all week. Ave Gitana is currently leading on countback to Mistress, both on 11 points. Victorian club mates The Boat (Graeme Etherton) and Tyee III (John Williams/Bruce Kellermann) are nipping at their heals on 12 points each after The Boat won yesterday. “We have to sail our best,” Ferris-Choat says.  

“We’re absolutely loving this regatta. It’s beautiful sailing, the organisation and variance in activities is brilliant. And just sailing where you don’t need your wet weather gear is awesome.”

The crew plan to leave late tomorrow, “after we fix the rudder and clear customs,” and sail Ave Gitana home via another speed challenge from Magnetic Island to Russell.

“We are trying to establish a demand for more speed records in the southern hemisphere,” Ferris- Choat says.

“In November we’re going to start an offshore sailing academy, where anyone from around the world can come and learn to sail offshore – on a trimaran.” (The best way to contact them is through the Ave Gitana or Thalassa Magenta Racing Facebook pages.

The highlight of her latest travels, she says, “Is seeing faces change on the girls when I’m teaching them stuff and it hasn’t computed - then you see their eyes light up and you know the penny has dropped – that’s been the big thing.”

Born in Canada, Ferris-Choat’s family moved to New Zealand before she was two. She competed at the 1996 Olympics in the Europe single-handed class, then skippering an Yngling at the 2004 Games, when all knew her as Sharon Ferris. She has since married and has two girls, 10 and 5. “I’m looking forward to heading home to see them,” she ends.

There are other female crews and skippers competing at Magnetic Island Race Week, notably two Townsville boats in SeaLink Spinnaker Division 3: Vicki Hamilton’s Akarana (sometimes father/owner Ian joins them) and Donna Dewhurst’s ‘Soul Sister’, which leaves dock each day blaring that signature tune – the crew dressed in pink as they dance out of the marina topsides.

In their division there are two other boats with female owner/skippers: Carol Roberts’ Infarrction from the Whitsundays and Toni Fox’s Xena from NSW.  The best placed is Infarrction,  in seventh overall, while Akarana won yesterday and Xena placed second in Race 1. 

For all information including full results:   

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

5 September, 2018

One last chance at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

Sunrise and hardly a ripple on the water as crews awoke to the final day at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, hosted by Townsville Yacht Club, and once again, it looks like a delayed start might be on the cards, but PRO Denis Thompson and his crew are hopeful of a good race once the breeze fills in and it is a last chance to make it count.

Three different courses are on the menu. The IRC yachts will sail a triangle with a couple of extra legs thrown in. No matter, newcomer to the event, Sydneysider David Fuller and his Vamp crew can’t be beaten, but were going out to race nonetheless.

“I’m steering today, so don’t expect the same results we’ve been getting,” Fuller smiled, referring to Olympian Jamie Wilmot being at the helm in previous days. No matter, ‘Father’ as Fuller is affectionately known, has a tight-knit crew of very good sailors.

SeaLink Spinnaker Divisions 1, 2 and 4, along with the Multihull division will sail a bay course taking in Magnetic Island and Townsville’s Cape Cleveland, while SeaLink Spinnaker Division 3 and the Non-Spinnaker division will do a long windward/leeward from Maggie Island into Cleveland Bay return.

And while the bulk of the fleet are biting at the bit for a bit more of yesterday afternoon’s conditions, aboard Warrigal, James Finch and his crew are keeping fingers crossed for more light air.

“Yesterday was too breezy for us,” he claimed after his self-designed Finch 40 from Townsville finished last in Division 3 yesterday on a scoresheet otherwise filled with top five results.

“We’ve been much preferring the lighter weather; the other days were great. Give us some more of that,” said crew member Alan Glanville.

As all good things do, another successful SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week will come to an end after today’s race.  Last night a few new stars were discovered from the Karaoke competition, and one lady, from the event’s management team, may have a new career…

For all information including full results:       

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

4 September, 2018

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Vamp wins the day and the regatta

In their first showing at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, David Fuller’s Vamp has won the Around the Island Race from Miss Scarlet and two-time Sydney Hobart winner, Balance, once again avoiding all the holes in the course that the others fell into on Day 3 of the Townsville Yacht Club hosted regatta.

Vamp, from NSW, won by over 10 minutes and in doing so, has won IRC Racing with a day to spare. “Don’t worry, we’ll be back on the course tomorrow,” Fuller said, thrilled having won three of the four races sailed.

“They both fell into a hole off Middle Reef and we passed both of them. The weather gods are on our side. Miss Scarlet took line honours and Balance pipped us on the line,” Fuller said of Paul Clitheroe’s TP52 crossing just 14 seconds in front of his Corby 49.

“It was a really nice race,” he said of the beautiful conditions that finally came through well after the planned 11am start, when racing was once again delayed.

“I love it here – it’s been a pleasant surprise – I’m so glad I’ve done it,” said Fuller who made the decision to be here for the first time in his 75th year.

Meanwhile, Miss Scarlet, a Kiwi entry that recently took line honours in the Groupama Race, missed the start, throwing up a kite to get there. “Tactician’s fault, but he redeemed himself by picking all the shifts right,” skipper Graeme Wilson said.

“We took off in the breeze transition and in the end, beat Balance home by three minutes. I feel for them, they fell into a hole again. It was a lovely sail around the Island though. I’m hoping we get the promised breeze tomorrow and then we’ll have a crack at it,” Wilson said, referring to the fact they have come close, but been caught each race between the other two yachts.

Division 1 went to Kenny Bruce’s Moo from David Perkins’ Vanilla 2 (Vic). In winning the race, Moo, an X562 design from Queensland, also takes control of the Division 1 pointscore, but is on equal points with Paul Ley’s well-sailed Kaufman 58, Pilgrim. Tomorrow will be the decider.

The rest of the fleet undertook a shorter race on the bay on two separate courses. Spinnaker Divisions 2 and 4, along with the multis, were on one course, the remainder on another. 

I sold my son to another boat for a bag of snakes

Yachties love their snakes – the lolly version that is. Today, the multihull Mistress was missing one of its four crew members.

“My son Nathan,” Mistress’ owner Dennis Coleman confessed straight-faced. “I sold him to Mayfair (James Irvine’s Beneteau First 40) for a bag of snakes.  On a hot day they provide that sugar hit and they are easy to carry on a boat and eat.”

Maybe Coleman shouldn’t have done that – they finished fifth today and gave away their top spot in the Multihull division to the women on Ave Gitana.

“We didn’t go as well today upwind. It’s (Mistress, his Corsair Sprint Mk1 design) hard work in breeze. It doesn’t like choppy water, but we’ve had our share of nice days and we’re happy with our day’s sail,” Coleman, from Townsville said.

“It’s like a little go-cart, my boat, it’s easy to manoeuvre and we’ve been happy with all our starts. We always sail to capacity – we don’t worry about sailing to our handicap. We give the boat the best chance to win.”

In contrast, John ‘Willo’ Williams enjoyed the day’s sail. His and Bruce Kellermann’s Tyee III from Victoria, is a rather large Catana 431 multihull. They finished second to Graeme Etherton’s ‘The Boat’, a Crowther Windspeed 32 cat.

A man of few words, “Quite good,” was how Willo described their day. The crew worked hard, the kites went up and down. We gave every sail in the wardrobe a full workout.”

Kellermann added: “I’ve been frizzing my brain trying to keep the boat moving in the previous day’s races, so today was good.”

On Privilege, owner Peter Strain was pleased with third place: “This boat’s never failed me, she’s totally reliable,” he said of the French designed Privilege 465.

“It was better for us today, we’re a big cruising multi – but we’re fortunate to have finished all the races, despite the light weather before,” said Strain, who races against Melbourne club mates Willo and Kellermann when the opportunity arises.

Little boats romp in first of a decent breeze

Nev Edwards and his crew on Nauti-I-Lass-Too (Qld) are pretty pleased with themselves. Their sixth place today aboard Edwards’ Sawbridge design has kept them in the lead of Division 3, and with the breeze up, Edwards said, “Beautiful – nice – great when the wind kicked in.

“We missed the start by a minute and had to play catch up,’ he said, blaming their 66 year-old bowman, Garry ‘Sort’ Rodgers. We got better as the day wore on. Local knowledge paid today, and we didn’t have that. But I did catch up with an old mate I hadn’t seen for 25 years – Ian Hamilton on Akarana,” said Edwards, confessing the average age of the crew is early 70’s.

And they were celebrating on Akarana, owned by Ian Hamilton and skippered by his daughter Vicki.  “We won, we had a fabulous day.”

Ian, a sprightly man who turned 82 on Father’s Day, chipped in, “I got a free ride,” but Vicki maintains he did his fair share.

“The last couple of days were challenging. We fell into holes all over the place, but today we had an excellent start and kept it up from there. We had Big Yellow up (their big yellow kite), which got interesting when it got shy…. To get into the marina ahead of most was a nice change,” she said.    

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race concludes with one final race tomorrow, followed by the prize giving at Peppers Resort.

For all information including full results:       

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

4 September, 2018

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week to serve up more light weather

The old dictum - just went you think you are due for a dose of wind, it starts looking iffy again - and that is the case at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week today, where PRO Denis Thompson and his team are mulling over their options on a day that was to be the ‘Around the Island Race’ – the most impressive of the courses, taking boats around Maggie Island.

But as more light weather is set to pervade Townsville and Magnetic Island, the race is in jeopardy, as the weather models show it would leave some boats on the course until well into the night.

Thompson and his team had to think laterally to come up with a solution - one that suits large and fast, as well as the small and slow. The upshot is that three separate courses will be sailed by the various divisions – something to suit all.

Hosted by Townsville Yacht Club, this is one of the lightest Maggie Island Race Weeks for years, but it has not affected spirits and for some, light air is welcome. It certainly hasn’t hurt Andrew Hesselmans and his Radford 12.2, Red Jacket. The Victorian yachtsman scored two second places – on the two lightest days of the regatta.

With a ninth place between, on Day 2, Hesselmans is happy to be secure in third place overall this morning, and poised to pounce on Pilgrim and Champagne, the top two on the SeaLink Spinnaker Division 1 leaderboard.

“This is the first time I’ve brought Red Jacket to Magnetic Island, but I’ve sailed on other boats here three times before and had wins on two of them,” Hesselmans says.

Red Jacket has recently returned to Melbourne after competing in the 5,500 nautical mile double-handed Sundance Marine Melbourne Osaka Race, but her owner says she returned with very little damage and ready to race.

“We’re very pleased with the performance we’re getting out of the boat. We took line honours and finished second on the first day, but were late to the start on Day 2. Once we started, we got going though. And we had a good one on Monday, once the breeze came in,” he said.

It’s the same for Division 3 boat, In the Mood, owned by Keith Masters. The Northshore 380c from NSW is in fourth place overall and within easy reach of the top three.

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week finishes tomorrow afternoon after one final race and the presentation at Peppers Resort.

For all information including full results:       

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

 3 September, 2018

 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

A delay ashore as race officials waited for the wind to fill in - and finally competitors heard the sound signal they were waiting on - and racing got underway in a light breeze at 12.40pm at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week.

So far, the Townsville Yacht Club hosted event has dished up light airs for all three days. And what a contrast of conditions between those on the windward/leeward course and the rest on a longer Bay type race to White Rock today.

The IRC and SeaLink Spinnaker Division 4 boats sailed windward/leeward races. They got the best of the breeze, with all weight on the rail of Paul Clitheroe’s Balance and her chaser, the Kiwi entry Miss Scarlet (William Goodfellow and Graeme Wilson), as the pair surged  upwind in moderate breezes closer to Nelly Bay. 

David Fuller’s smaller Vamp was giving chase and keeping the pair in close contact. Fuller, from Sydney, who is celebrating his 75th year here at his first ‘Maggie Island’ Race Week, is on a winning streak, and made it a hat-trick by winning Race 3 today, only to capitulate to Paul Clitheroe’s Balance in Race 4 – by  a mere 46 seconds.

“The first race the legs were 1.6 nautical mile legs, the second race’s legs were a shorter 1.2 miles, and they just got us, but we’re having a great run here. We had a real nibble at Balance and Miss Scarlet a couple of times,” a thrilled Fuller said. 

“We have a pole, the other two don’t – so we were able to get our asymmetrical up and run deeper in both races,” he said.

“We had a port and starboard incident with Miss Scarlet – we threw up our protest flag and they did their penalty turn, so that was good.”

Dick Cawse, sailing with Fuller said their conditions were stable. “We had a steady average of 10 knots – it nearly reached 12 at one point. It was very steady,” he said. “I’m really enjoying my first Race Week here and looking forward to tomorrow.”

In Division 4, Tim Campbell racked up his first win, the Victorian’s Corby 25 coming into her own in the first windward/leeward race. With only two seconds between them, he beat the much touted Calypso Magic, the Farr 30 owned by 16 foot skiff whizz, Graham Turner, who put in some practice at the preceding Airlie Beach Race Week.

In the second windward/leeward race, James Irvine’s Beneteau First 40, Mayfair was the gun boat. The Queenslander defeated series leader coming into the day, Hellrazer (Ian MacDiarmid, NSW) and Private Equity to take first place.

Calypso has taken the Division 4 series lead, relegating Hellrazer to second place with two races remaining. Mayfair is third.

On the other courses, SeaLink Spinnaker Division 1 was first off and Greg Snowball’s elegant Swan 60, Dream Catcher III, made the best of the start along with Paul Ley’s Kaufman 58, Pilgrim, from NSW. 

However, despite the shifty and fluctuating breeze, Dream Catcher sailed away from the rest as the wind dropped out. She was first to set a kite while still on the way to White Rock when a light sea breeze started to fill in. Once around the mark, Snowball took a leg out from the shore and further distanced his boat from the others in Division 1.

The Melburnian said dockside, “We took line honours win (to finish fourth overall). We kept the boat moving the whole time, sailing with a cruising main and headsail. Winds ranged from five and a half knots to a maximum 10. We held our chute OK going to White Rock. Nobody got near us after that,” said Snowball, who has all but three Victorian crew aboard.

“She’s a lovely boat,” he said of the German Frers Swan he purchased in the States 12 years ago. He raced her in Europe before bringing Dream Catcher III to Australia. “And it’s a lovely place to sail. The scenery is fantastic – we saw a turtle while racing. It’s our first time here.

On Biddy Hu II, a Beneteau 49, owner Paul Lindemann and named for sons Boyd (Biddy) and Hugh, he said they were having a great time at Race Week. “You come here to enjoy and relax – and it’s so friendly. If you win, you celebrate with a few beers, if you don’t, they’ll still be cold tomorrow.”   

Lindemann continued: “Good breeze at the start, but it dropped out. We kept moving though. The Living Doll kite is a beauty; we can carry it as an asymmetrical because it has a large luff.” They finished seventh today – the division was won by Kenny Bruce’s X562 Moo (Qld).   

Divisions 2, 3 and 4 followed, along with the multihulls, with the Sharon Ferris-Choat skippered trimaran, Ave Gitana, leading the way again, but their race was won by Mistress (Dennis Coleman (Qld).

It was painful viewing at times. Just as the fleet would get going, using the land to bounce off on the way to White Rock, the breeze would die down to a whisper, leaving helms and tacticians to work out the best plan of action.  

Next up is the much anticipated Around the Island Race, scheduled to start at 11am tomorrow. It is a spectacle that can be enjoyed from all points of Magnetic Island.

For all information including full results:       

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

3 September, 2018

Back to racing at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

Racing took a backseat at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week yesterday, as competitors got into the into the Father’s Day fun on Lay Day, including the popular Rotary Beer Can Regatta, Mud Crab races, the Artisan markets and more at beautiful Picnic Bay on a bright sunny day.

Today is a different matter, with racing back in the spotlight and a light breeze not expected until lunch time. At 10am crews were waiting ashore with an AP flag (postponement signal) flying as they awaited further news of a start time.

“A late sea breeze, - 12 maybe 12.30pm at 10 to 11 knots,” surmised Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson as he and the race management team sat working on courses for the seven divisions taking part in the Townsville Yacht Club hosted event.

This morning sailmaker Ian MacDiarmid was repairing a jammer on his F36 Razer, Hellrazer, ahead of the race. He currently leads SeaLink Spinnaker Division 4, with third and second places, and was mulling over the first two days of racing.

“If you go the right way in light breezes, you’re OK. So far we’ve had a few plusses and a few minuses. In the first race others got into the shift first and we were dog meat, but we made up for it later,” the NSW sailor said.

“Saturday I fouled up the start and we were late getting in to the start and had to clear our gas. Then Ponyo (Hughie Lewis, Tas) was hard reaching under jib and was able to sail low as the breeze lifted and was able to luff us up and win.” 

“We had a fabulous second race with Calypso Magic (Graham Turner’s Farr 30 from the Australian 18 footers League) the whole course. The Young 780 (Guilty Pleasures VII did a great job too.”

MacDiarmid sold his loft to Doyle’s Shane Guanaria, but still dabbles – and a good sailmaker never forgets his craft or how to trim. It all helps: “I’ve got the cheapest sails here. Shane lets me use the loft and I appreciate his support,” MacDiarmid ended.

On Lynda Sawbridge’s Helena May, crew member Rick Telfer said, “Apart from the lack of breeze, it’s been a good regatta. I love racing here, it’s my sixth time. I sail on different boats as my work schedule doesn’t allow me to commit to racing full time.

“We’re in Division 1 and in the light stuff we’re not competitive with them,” he says from the local Bavaria 38. “We’d love a bit more wind,” ended Telfer, who speaks for most of the fleet.

Denis Thompson says conditions will improve in coming days:  “Tuesday and Wednesday are looking better for stronger winds, particularly Wednesday.”

For all information including full results:       

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

1 September, 2018

A magic first day of spring at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

The weather played havoc with plans to sail a Strand Bay Race at Townsville Yacht Club’s SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week today, but Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson and his team had a trick or two up their sleeves, and so the locals did not miss out.

Originally, racing was due to start at 11am, but the key ingredient was missing – wind. Thompson, his team, the fleet and spectators waited patiently on a glorious first day of spring, and were rewarded.

The first whispers of breeze filtered through, by which time Thompson had moved the start closer to The Strand in Townsville - and at 12.40pm, the IRC boats were away, followed by each of the other divisions.

Those ashore got a view of boats heading towards them, some flying Code Zeros, others under spinnaker, but as the breeze transitioned, spinnakers were flying from all directions, making quite a spectacle. By 1.45pm, the breeze filled in nicely, giving competitors a great second half of racing.

Paul Clitheroe’s TP52 Balance (NSW) and William Goodfellow’s RP52, Miss Scarlet (New Zealand), matched raced around the course as photography enthusiasts ashore snapped away. The smaller Vamp, a Corby 49 owned by David Fuller (NSW) may have been left behind at the start, but his crew new what they were doing and made it two wins from two races.

Fuller, a past commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, takes up the story: “The breeze came in and to us at the right time and we hit the breeze transitions at the right time too. I’m starting to think it doesn’t pay to get a good start,” he said laughing.

“We came up inside the two with our headsail up and got the new breeze and sailed right in the middle of the transition. I’m having a great time here in my 75th year,” said Fuller, adding with a smile: “The average age of the crew is 61.5 years, and we’re doing OK.”    

Tasmania’s Hughie Lewis, who is skippering the Victorian modified Farr 40, Ponyo here, also came ashore smiling. He won SeaLink Spinnaker Division 4 from sailmaker Ian Macdiarmid’s F6 Razer, Hellrazer (NSW).

“It was good that Denis (Thompson) did what he did by shortening the course and starting it nearer The Strand. We started well and got through the two breeze transitions well. Then it was a reach to the finish – the course suited us. Having said that, Denis made it fair for all,” Lewis said.

All were happy aboard Michael Phillips’ Poppy too, because the Gibsea Master 44.2 design, based at Magnetic Island, took line honours in the Non-Spinnaker Division.

“An interesting day,” Phillips, from country South Australia said. “The committee did the right thing starting the race near The Strand to give the people onshore what they were promised,” he said. 

“We timed our start to perfection and got off the start in clean air and sailed well. It was a tactical race. The wind was light and fluky and then we had a little more pressure, but the wind was shifty,” he explained.


Earlier in the day, a stowaway was found on board in the form of Elvis. “We had to take him off the boat for two reasons – he wasn’t on the crew list, so we could have been disqualified – and we didn’t want him outshining us either,” said one of Poppy’s crew who sent Elvis ashore early to entertain everyone on the deck.


Phillips and crew will celebrate Poppy’s 15th birthday next Wednesday. “She still performs very well against the modern boats,” he said proudly.

Racing continues on Monday, and in the meantime, competitors have a fun-packed lay day ahead of them. 

For all information including full results:       

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

1 September, 2018

Inaugural Strand Bay Race at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week today

The first morning of spring is truly living up to expectation at Magnetic Island this morning as yachties prepare for a new race at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, the Strand Bay Race, which will give the people of Townsville a first opportunity to see the large fleet when it races in close proximity to The Strand.

Organised and hosted by Townsville Yacht Club, the race is due to start at 11am and will take the fleet along The Strand during the lunchtime period. Some locals have organised lunches, including the Surf Club near Strand Park, while many locals are expected to line the foreshore or take a look from Kissing Point.

The forecast is for a light breeze, but once the yachts are under spinnaker, the mass of colour should make an impact. 

More light air – most sailors’ nightmare, but as James Finch, the owner of Warrigal said, with tongue firmly in cheek, “it’s character building.”

Former America’s Cup bowman, Peter Dowdney, who is here sailing on Grant Chipperfield’s Joker on Tourer said, “Light weather, any weather, it’s the best regatta in Australia in the best location. Sallie (his wife) and I come here with the family and we’re enjoying Race Week without the kids this year.   

No racing tomorrow, it’s lay day, but there is plenty planned, such as Father’s Day at Picnic Bay from 9am-5pm – all welcome with free shuttle bus from Nelly Bay to Picnic Bay return. Come and see the much anticipated Rotary Magnetic Island Beer Can Regatta – already some participants have been preparing their self-made boats in secrecy on the Island.

From 12pm the Picnic Bay Surf Club welcomes all to the Beach Retreat Bar, mud crab races and a fundraising BBQ – and don’t miss entertainment from Godfathers of Funk. SeaLink is overing family tickets to the Island for $50 return and $25 for individual adults.    

For all information including full results:        

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

31 August, 2018

Pleasant start to SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

The IRC Racing division was on the receiving end of the best of the light weather at Townsville Yacht Club’s SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, which started off the Island today.

Behind the IRC boats, it melted into a drifter. Some of those in the SeaLink Spinnaker, Non Spinnaker and Multihull classes were seen going sideways and backwards on the run. Dare I say, it was a bit like watching paint dry - or grass grow – or so it seemed, because during the afternoon the breeze returned in the 8-20 knot range, bringing most home in good time.

Either way, laughter could be heard from the water and many insisted it was a lovely first day’s sail on the Bay.

Paul Clitheroe’s Balance went from hero to zero. Starting well, the TP52 from NSW put enough distance on his rivals to win – or so we all thought. Balance found the big wind hole, and as first timer Clitheroe said: “Never speak too early. It looked easy for a long time, until…

The ‘Money Man’ explained, “We could see the transition of wind in front and Miss Scarlet (William Goodfellow) sailed low and Vamp (David Fuller) sailed high, but somehow we got caught in the middle of it.

“We had the pleasure of watching the two of them run us down under spinnaker.  We had a lovely day out though – a good first day.” the ever-positive yachtsman said.

From the Corby 49, Vamp, which took first place overall from Balance, owner David Fuller said, “She’s a good boat and we had a good race, especially with Miss Scarlet (William Goodfellow and Graeme Wilson). We’d overtake them, then they’d overtake us, and then Balance fell into a hole and that levelled the playing field again.”

Vamp had the expertise of Olympian Jamie Wilmot in the tactician’s role and all-rounder Pete Messenger keeping the crew honest.

On Board the bright red New Zealand boat, Graeme Wilson admitted it was a hard day for the tacticians. “We wish we’d had a bit more breeze; the boat’s (RP52) underpowered in 8 knots and less. But we had good racing anyway – it’s a beautiful bay to sail on and it was a nice sunny day.

“If it looks like being lighter tomorrow, we’ll be taking the esky out,” he said smiling.

On the trimaran Ave Gitana, crew, Krystal Weir, said the earlier part of the day “was painful.”  But, she said, “The beat to the finish was great. The wind picked up and we finished quickly.”

“It’s really fast in a bit of breeze, it really gets going, but when I’m on it, the weather seems to be light,” Weir, a double Olympian from Victoria, said.

Tasmanian crew, Joanna Breen, has done hundreds of miles on it already, admits: “It’s a wet boat. It’s like a fire hose when it gets going. During the Groupama Race, one of the crew’s life vest auto-inflated because we got so wet!”

The trimaran has been loaned to New Zealand double Olympian Sharon Ferris-Choat with her all-female crew, who are sailing for the Magenta Project, which gives women opportunities in sailing. The owner, Antonio Pasquale, is also setting up an academy for offshore sailing.

On Pilgrim, the Kaufman 58 from NSW, owner Paul Ley described the day: “Very light, frustrating, but the crew work was excellent. The breeze picked up on the last run, but from Beacon “Q” North Cardinal Marker to Cape Cleveland

At 5pm, boats were still on the course as Donna Dewhurst’s Soul Sister romped into the marina, her female crew dressed to the hilt in pink, pom poms and all, as they danced into their berth. It just shows the diversity of entries here at the 12th SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week.

Tomorrow is the Strand Bay Race, which will take the fleet along The Strand in Townsville, making a great spectacle for the people of Townville who will be able to get up close and almost personal with the yachts.

For all information including full results:       

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

31 August, 2018

Day 1 dawns at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

Day 1 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, hosted by Townsville Yacht Club, dawned bright and sunny and while the bulk of competitors were contemplating navigator and marine biologist, Will Oxley’s light weather forecast, others were discussing moving the beer to leeward on each tack.

Last evening Oxley, a Townsville local, told competitors the weather would be light on for most of the regatta, which starts today at 11am with a Passage Race.

“It will be quite light winds for a few days,” the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart winning navigator said. “I expect 6-12 knots for Friday, 5-10 knots on Saturday, (Sunday is Lay Day) a 7-12 knot east/north-easterly sea breeze on Monday and 7-14 knots for the final day, Tuesday.”

Oxley, who owned, “I’ve done 15 regattas so far this year,” will not be sailing at Maggie Island this year. He is so rarely home, he’s decided to spend time with his family instead.

Last evening, Townsville’s Mayor, Jenny Hill, joined in the Welcome Party on the deck at Peppers, which raged well into the night. Early breakfast was not for most, and while the bulk of us were enjoying the evening, Andrea Francolini left to capture the glorious sunset.

A couple of nights ago, Townsville Yacht Club Event Chairman, Mike Steel, welcomed 20 crews to the Cape Upstart barbecue, which is in its third year. Hosted and catered by the Cape’s only inhabitants, Richard and Karen Bonato, yachties enjoyed prawns, crispy skin Barramundi, pork ribs and rib fillets. Dessert was a choice of chocolate or cheese cake. They were spoilt for choice.     

Someone who shall remain nameless let slip that the ‘In the Mood’ crew from Broken Bay in NSW, arrived rather thirsty – their water tanks empty. Then they lost their dinghy.

“Thanks to the full moon, we found it,” said TYC’s Mike Steel. “They took a ribbing in good fun and helped us cook and clean-up afterwards,” he said.

More after today’s opening race.

For all information including full results:       

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

29 August, 2018

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week coming to the masses this week

While Townsville and other Queensland sailors flock to SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week each year, over half the fleet sails long distances to take part – from New Zealand and Australia wide, they come to enjoy something unique.

Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) annual regatta has special ingredients that lure everyone from Olympians, Sydney Hobart winners, America’s Cup sailors and average sailors to race and have a good time with family and friends.

New Zealand is fielding two entries. Two-time Olympian Sharon Ferris-Choat will be at the helm of Ave Gitana, a trimaran she skippered in the 2018 Groupama Race around New Caledonia. On her crew is Australian double Olympian, Krystal Weir and short-handed sailor/adventurer, Joanna Breen.

Kiwi William Goodfellow will arrive with his 2018 Groupama line honours winner, Miss Scarlet, to take on the likes of ‘Money Man’, Paul Clitheroe, who for the first time is bringing Balance, his two-time Sydney Hobart winner from NSW. But getting balance back in his life, he will not be in full offshore race mode.  

In the Spinnaker division on Grant Chipperfield’s Joker on Tourer from Victoria, you will find former America’s Cup bowman Peter Dowdney and his wife. “Sallie and I are playing the old cruising couple – not what you expect, I know,” says a laughing Dowdney, who like Clitheroe and others, have heard of the charms of this regatta.

Another notable Magnetic rookie, David Fuller (Vamp), says, “The crew have been pestering me for years to do this - I’ve had it on the agenda for a long time. We’re coming up to celebrate my 75th birthday.” 

Once bitten, it’s difficult not to return, it’s just a special regatta.

New race to excite locals

Why should yachties have all the fun? A new race will take the fleet the length of The Strand in Townsville, bringing locals right into the picture. And unlike other sporting events, it is free of charge.

It’s a breathtaking, vibrant and rare experience - yachts and multihulls under spinnaker close to The Strand. The Surf Club near Strand Park is among those planning a lunch for anyone wanting to watch the race in style. Or you can watch from anywhere on The Strand.

Local partners get behind Father’s Day on ‘Maggie’ Island

In celebration of Father’s Day, Townsville Airport has again thrown its support behind the Magnetic Island community to ensure an unforgettable experience for families wishing to spend the day on the Island. 

SeaLink is offering discounted return ferry tickets and Port of Townsville Limited is providing free shuttle buses from the SeaLink Ferry Terminal on the Island to Picnic Bay return.

Once there, all can enjoy the fun-packed Rotary Beer Can Regatta at Picnic Bay, along with Artisan markets in the Picnic Bay Mall. And due to popular demand, the Beach Retreat returns, with ‘Godfathers of Funk’ entertaining all throughout the afternoon. There is plenty to savour on the Island, as the yachties do each year.

Townsville Yacht Club and the Race Week committee are grateful for the support of all of event support partners and welcome the addition of Pickerings Auto Group and FKG Group this year. 

All information on SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week:     

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

14 August, 2018

Townsville talent Will Oxley to share knowledge at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 

Renowned navigator and marine biologist, Will Oxley, is to attend opening night at 2018 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week to impart his weather knowledge - and it is anticipated the Townsville sailor will recount a story or two on his vast experience as a yachtsman.

Oxley has clocked up more than 250,000 sea miles to-date, inclusive of five Whitbread/Volvo Round the World races and 17 Sydney Hobarts, in which he navigated Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban to overall honours last December.

The unassuming and highly respected sailor also skippered 'Compaq' in the BT Global Challenge 2000/01 and filled the role of weather coordinator for the Swedish ‘Victory’ Challenge for the America’s Cup. Oxley also provided navigation and weather services for Puma in the 2008/09 Volvo Ocean Race and others.

During his Sydney Hobarts on various yachts, Oxley has ‘kitted out’ various boats’ navigation stations with the latest in equipment, leaving a legacy, which is always greatly appreciated by incoming navigators. It is also acknowledged by media personnel who have been able to receive up-to-the-minute information from Oxley and his successors during long ocean races.

Townsville Yacht Club (TYC) director and Event Chairman, Mike Steel said, “Due to sailing commitments, Will isn’t generally in town at this time of year. But when he is home, he’s been very happy to oblige us and competitors really value his knowledge and insights.”

Oxley will have a full audience, with a good spread of entries across IRC Racing, SeaLink Spinnaker, Non-Spinnaker and Multihull classes.

The latest to join the likes of Paul Clitheroe’s two-time Sydney Hobart winner Balance (NSW) and William Goodfellow’s Miss Scarlet (NZL), line honours winner in June’s Groupama Race, in IRC Racing is James Irvine’s Mayfair from Queensland.

The Beneteau First 40, representing Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, is currently at Airlie Beach Race Week where is her crew is going through drilling practice in Cruising Division 2. Irvine will step it up when he and the crew arrive to take on some highly-rated competition. 

“I’ve not sailed there before, but I go to Townsville quite a bit and like the place. Maggie was always something I wanted to do - it was on my wish list. People talk about it and lot say it’s fun and relaxed and that suits me.”

Charm Offensive, the Hanse 445 owned by James Permezel, is one of 48 starters in Cruising with Spinnaker division. The Victorian says, “A dream family boat enjoying cruising northern Queensland and doing races with mates and family.”

One of those mates is likely to be fellow Victorian, Bruce Taylor, a 37 Sydney Hobarts veteran who competed with Permezel at Maggie Island last year. Taylor recently won the Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race and Permezel, one of Taylor’s regular crew on Chutzpah, was aboard. The Chutzpahs are a tightknit bunch, most have sailed 25 plus Hobarts together.

Joining them is Hughie Lewis, who has been loaned David Currie’s modified Farr 40, Ponyo. “It all started with us offering David our spare main when his was torn at Magnetic Island last year. Now he’s kindly loaned us the boat,” Lewis explains.  

“We want to go up to Maggie and have some fun – and using David’s boat we didn’t want to put ourselves in any situation where we might damage it by sailing in the cut-and-thrust of IRC,” the Tasmanian admits.

“We have a group that doesn’t always sail together, including some friends. We’re ‘Gerry and the Atrics’; we’ve got to get our Zimmer frames on the boat somehow,” he says amid laughter.

On a serious note, Lewis says: “I’m really looking forward to sailing a Farr 40 again. I was the first to have one in Tasmania – I had it for 10 years – and I’m sorry I sold it in retrospect.”

Lewis continues: “We loved Magnetic Island last year. Everything is easy to get to and it’s nice spending time with lovely people there. And the sailing is really good. Denis Thompson (Principal Race Officer) is such a good operator - he’s brilliant. We learnt so much from him at one event that we took back to Tasmania – he’s so professional and does such a great job.”

The date for the Round the Island Race has been moved to Tuesday 4 September. No matter the division or the day, all enjoy themselves at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, the first of Australia’s major spring regattas.

If you don’t know what you are missing, watch last year’s recap at:

For all information and to enter SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week now, please go to the official website:     

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

31 July, 2018

Two berths left – and a new race – so don’t miss SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

Only two berths remain available for 2018 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, according to organisers from Townsville Yacht Club (TYC), who urge those who are yet to enter to do so now to avoid the inevitable – missing out on the first of Australia’s spring regattas to be held from 30 August to 5 September.

Officials and Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson, are dishing up a new temptation for the Far Northern Queensland regatta this year.

“We’re holding a Bay Race that will take boats along The Strand in Townsville, which will give spectators onshore a fabulous spectacle while offering something fresh to competitors,” said Event Chairman, Mike Steel.

“The Bay Race is on Saturday 1st September, moving the Around the Island Race to Monday 3rd of September,” Steel said, adding. “Our locals are looking forward to taking on the ‘out of towners’ again for some friendly competition and pre and post racing fun.”

An extensive social program includes the Cape Upstart stopover just prior to ‘Maggie Island’ Race Week on Tuesday 28th August 6.00pm. This popular annual event, now in its third year, is a completely unique place and experience. It is the ideal way to kick the week off and to meet and socialise with fellow competitors.

Accessed by water only, yachties only need drop anchor row the dinghy or be ferried ashore to be greeted by Richard and Karen Bonato, who kindly host and cater this relaxing BBQ event for TYC. For catering and ferrying ashore purposes, those intending to take part must register online at:

Scotty Hillier, our larrikin Master of Ceremonies will be on hand at Peppers Blue on Blue Resort again each night following racing. After viewing the day’s action (and videoing it) he reveals all – the good the bad and the ugly - and review the most colourfully dressed crews at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week this year.

When Hillier departs the stage, get ready to dance, sing or just enjoy the bands and Karaoke at Peppers Race Headquarters. There will also be a Ladies Long Lunch, Deck Party, a Karaoke night and the Presentation Party

Layday - I kid you not - is second to none! Mud Crab and beer can races, tugs of war, Father’s Day at Picnic Bay with kids activities, artisan market, a barbecue, food stalls and entertainment. And not having had enough fun, last year’s invention by the yachties – pier jumping – is sure to be on again.

Graeme Wilson, spokesperson for Kiwi entry, Miss Scarlet, testifies to all the event has to offer: “We couldn’t get the boat here on time last year, so we raced Wave Sweeper and enjoyed it all so much, we had to come back. The other crews were friendly and racing and social activities were a lot of fun.

Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week was inaugurated in 2007, when a group of passionate yachties banded together to start an annual regatta in the warm waters of Cleveland Bay, near Magnetic Island. Twenty five locals contested that first event, never guessing how popular it would become and how widespread an interest it would create.  

If you need more convincing, watch last year’s recap at:

For all information and to enter SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week now, please go to the official website:      

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

26 June, 2018

Battles to rage at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

There are two new contenders for titles who are sure to rattle a few cages in the Multihull and IRC Racing divisions at the 2018 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, hosted by Townsville Yacht Club and to be held from 30 August to 6 September.

New Zealander and double Olympian across two classes, Sharon Ferris-Choat, is bringing an all-female international crew, ‘Team Magenta’ (started by a group of high-profile women sailors, The Magenta Project’s mission is to accelerate women to the top of sailing), and a 40 foot trimaran up north to challenge all-comers in the in the Multihulls. 

Ave Gitana is a Crowther 40 owned by Ferris-Choat’s friend, Antonio Pasquale, who not only encouraged her to do the 654 nautical mile Groupama Race with a female crew, but generously loaned her the trimaran. The women gave the multihull line honours winner, Drew Caruthers’ Rushour a shakeup, but ultimately finished second to it over the line.

Rivals be warned; Ferris-Choat is no stranger to multihull racing. She sailed with a mixed crew on British woman Tracy Edwards’ offshore catamaran, Maiden 2, to record-breaking performances. Then in 2016, the Kiwi became the first woman to sail on the multihull GC32 Racing Tour, mixing it with the some of the biggest names in pro sailing.

“Ave Gitana was quite the ride,” says Aussie crew member, Jo Breen. “It was a very challenging race with everything from 0 to 30 plus knots, lots of navigational and tactical decisions and a few big repairs,” the Tasmanian said.

“It was our first time sailing together as a team, and the first time for all of us racing on Ave Gitana, so we were happy with our result.

“I had a ball driving,” says Breen, who also filled the role of back-up navigator, her specialty. “Despite the serious lack of sleep, I don't think anything could have wiped the grin off my face driving at those speeds!”

One major hurdle out of the way, Team Magenta will arrive at Magnetic Island fresh from having done the 343nm Club Marine Brisbane to Keppel race and Hamilton Island Race Week, where they will undergo their first serious regatta-style practice. In other words, they should be in form.

“I’ll be doing both deliveries, and all the races with the team – we’re really looking forward to racing at Magnetic Island,” says Breen, who will be in Townsville shortly to recommence the delivery of her S&S 34, Morning Star back to Tasmania, after competing in the 5500nm Sundance Marine Melbourne Osaka Double-Handed Yacht Race.

Breen, who turned 29 during that race, and her co-skipper, Peter Brooks, finished the staggered start race second over the line. That result translated to fourth overall in IRC and second under PHS and AMS.

Meanwhile, Tim Campbell is bringing his Corby 25, Private Equity, from Victoria to for the 12th running of this ‘one-of-a-kind’ annual regatta at beautiful ‘Maggie Island’.

Keen for a little IRC jousting, because, Campbell says, “I haven’t raced in a while, busy with work,” the new kid on the block could be punching above its weight. It will be taking on the tried and tested muscled up models, including the Corby 49, Vamp, twot-time Hobart winner Balance and Miss Scarlet, frisky after taking line honours in the Groupama Race. It’s also rumoured a Corby 36 may also be entered shortly.

Private Equity’s UK designer/builder, John Corby has a different view: “It may be smallest IRC design, but its success has been phenomenal. The responsive, easily driven hull, with its narrow waterline, reduces the wetted surface to give the ultimate light airs performance.

“The deep fin keel and the 780 kilo bulb provide all the stability required in heavy airs when beating or running. Combine this with the efficient high-aspect rig, modest working sail area and large masthead spinnaker; it’s a fantastic all-round performer with boat-speed and upwind angles many larger cruiser/racers can only envy.”

Her owner, Tim Campbell adds, “This is the only Corby 25 in Australia and she was a competitive IRC racer in the UK and Wales.”

Campbell adds: “I haven’t sailed at Magnetic before - it’s been 10 years since I’ve sailed up north – at Airlie Beach Race Week, so it’s about time. I’ll be trailering the boat up to Townsville where Rosshaven Marine will crane the mast back into the boat for me.”

“Interesting times,” noted Event Chairman and Townsville Yacht Club director, Mike Steel.

“Both boats are relatively unknown quantities at major regattas in Australia and certainly at ours, so we look forward welcoming them to our neck of the woods and to seeing them in action.”

For all information and to enter SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week now, please go to the official website:    

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

Vamp to join IRC fleet at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

 29 May, 2018

David Fuller and his international crew of 11 are heading to Townsville Yacht Club’s SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, preparing to take on Paul Clitheroe’s Balance and others in the IRC division - and to experiencing the annual event, now in its 12th year.

To be held from 30 August to 6 September, Fuller admitted today: “This is my first time. The crew have been pestering me for years and I’ve had it on the agenda for a long time. We’re coming up to celebrate my 75th birthday,” he says.

“We’re going to Hamilton Island first – I think a lot of boats should come up to Magnetic Island from there – I’ve heard it’s completely different to other regattas. Laid back with great camaraderie is what people tell me.”

Fuller is bringing his well-raced Corby 49, Vamp, to ‘Maggie Island’ along with a first class crew that includes past Olympian, Australian champion in multiple classes and offshore racer, Jamie Wilmot to call  tactics. Peter Messenger, who has four times won the Sydney Hobart from his 28 races, is also on the crew.

“I’ll also have some of the crew who do Kings Cup and Raja Muda with me and we’re looking forward to some good competition,” says Fuller, adding with a laugh, “I wish Balance wasn’t going to be there, but we’ll deal with that when we get there, but we are looking forward to a good line-up.” 

And well he may feel that way. Balance is twice a Rolex Sydney Hobart winner, the first time as Quest for Bob Steel in 2008 and as Balance for Paul Clitheroe in 2015. Recognised as a boat to be reckoned with, the TP52 also finished the race second last year, was fourth in 2016 and has won every major race and regatta on the eastern seaboard.

But Vamp and her crew are no slouches either. Vamp won Division 2 of the 2011 Sydney Hobart among other good results and under her former names of ‘Limit’ and ‘Flirt’ also racked up numerous wins and places at major events.

Fuller, from Sydney, says “Apart from anything else, the convenience of everything on the Island is of major appeal for me – and the sail up to the Island. I can’t stress enough how much I’m looking forward to it.”

Miss Scarlet, William Goodfellow’s Reichel/Pugh IRC 52 from New Zealand, will also be competition for Vamp. She is also a newcomer, but her crew, from Royal Akarana Yacht Club, are not. Unable to get Miss Scarlet here on time, “We sailed Wave Sweeper last year, and enjoyed it so much, we had to come back,” crew member Graeme Wilson said.

Launched in 2009 for Robert Date of Melbourne and known as Scarlet Runner, Date was a regular winner on the ocean racing scene before the boat went to New Zealand at the beginning of 2016 and was set-up for shorthanded offshore sailing, successfully competing in the ANZAC 250, 2016 Auckland to Fiji and 2017 Double-Handed Round North Island Race.

Goodfellow says: “In 2018 she will be undertaking a fully crewed program consisting of New Zealand regattas, Auckland Noumea, Groupama Round Noumea and Queensland regattas.”

Magnetic Island Race Week’s Event Chairman and TYC Director, Mike Steel, commented today: “We’re hoping to have a strong IRC fleet, particularly as those already entered are high-calibre regatta and ocean racers.” 

Apart from the attraction of racing, Townsville, a bustling coastal town, and charming Magnetic Island are a stone’s throw from some of Australia’s best cruising grounds where the sea life is an added attraction.

With many competitors arriving with an entourage of family and friends, why not treat them to the joys of pre or post event cruising?

Orpheus Island in the Great Barrier Reef is just 49 miles away. The dreamy idyll, surrounded by 3212 acres of national park, is fringed by coral reefs – a must do for diving and snorkelling enthusiasts. Or just cruise in, lie in the sun, relax and swim. 

Closer still, is the Great Palm Island Group, just 40 miles away from Townsville. The 10 small islands have everything from anchorages to sandy beaches. And there are many others, all equally enchanting in their own ways.

Enter SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week now and when doing so, book accommodation at the same time. Get in early to take advantage of the best accommodation Peppers Blue on Blue Resort, less than a minute away from the marina and with berthing is at a premium, don’t miss out.

Peppers Blue on Blue boasts everything from waterfront apartments to rooms – all taking in the beautiful surroundings. The Resort is offering an Early Bird special of 10 percent discount on their Bed and Breakfast rate (with various accommodation options available), including a welcome beverage. Secure the special rate by booking directly through the resort before 30 June 2018. Phone: (07) 4758 2400 or email [email protected] 

Don’t miss this special sailing occasion – it’s unlike any other.

Enter now via the official website:    

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

Balance heading for her first SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week encounter

6 March, 2018

A two-time Sydney Hobart winner is on her way to SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week for the first time, her owner ahead of the game when online entry into the Townsville Yacht Club hosted event opened.  

Paul Clitheroe is bringing his racing crew and the TP52 variously known as Balance and Quest to Magnetic Island. Overall winner of the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart and other major events, the ‘Money Man’ is nevertheless a greenhorn as far as ‘Maggie Island Race Week’ is concerned and he is looking forward to being introduced to the delights it has to offer.

“Quite a few people have told me I’m missing something special – Darryl Hodgkinson, Bob Steel and others – so Magnetic Island here we come,” the effervescent Clitheroe said.

Steel was the original owner of the boat, naming her Quest and winning the 2008 Sydney Hobart. These days the two share the boat like adoring parents, Steel sailing her to second place overall in the 2017 Hobart. Now she has reverted to her Balance colours and ready to head north.

Sydneysider Clitheroe is forthright as to his motives for competing: “Firstly, I haven’t sailed there before and secondly, sailing in Northern Queensland is always, well, wonderful.  I heard this is a fun and relaxed regatta and as you know, Balance has one of the most laid back crews, so we’re looking forward to it.

“We are sailing somewhere completely new and we’ll be trying hard, but winding down at the same time. Vicky (his wife) is coming along too. It will be a nice way for us to relax – staying at Peppers - and it just sounds like a good thing to do,” he says of the regatta to be held from 30 August to 6 September, the grand finale of the northern circuit of races for the year.

Clitheroe wasn’t the only one to jump the gun early, so to speak. Eight others have also entered the SeaLink Spinnaker Class, including Toni Fox’s Xena from NSW. Her owner launched the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349 just this February.

Queensland’s Mickey Dousset was also quick off the mark with his modified Etchells, Uitwaaien, as was fellow Queenslander Justin Van Stom and Calico, his Cal 36. Two Victorians join the early birds with Greg Snowball’s elegant Swan 60, Dream Catcher III and Rob Rainsford’s Hanse 430, Y Knot.

Berthing is at a premium, so entering early will avoid disappointment, because the cat is well and truly out of the bag about this event.

Mike Steel, Director of Townsville Yacht Club, competitor and Event Chairman, says, “We’ve already had quite a number of early enquiries, so I suggest prospective competitors enter as quickly as they can. In a first, when you enter online, you will also be confirming a yacht berth for the week – making it a simple one-step operation.

“While entering, I suggest booking accommodation at the same time to take advantage of the best Peppers Blue on Blue Resort has to offer,” he said of the various options available from waterfront apartments to rooms – all taking in the beautiful surroundings.

Peppers Blue on Blue Resort is offering an Early Bird special of 10 percent discount on their Peppers Bed and Breakfast rate (with various accommodation options available), including one welcome beverage per person. Secure the special rate by booking directly through the resort before 30 June 2018. Phone: (07) 4758 2400 or email [email protected]

“We’re looking forward to welcoming all to SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week again and to hosting another wonderful Cape Upstart stopover pre-regatta for those yachts travelling up,” Steel ended.

In its third year and held the afternoon and evening prior to the main event, the Cape Upstart stopover’s reputation has grown so quickly that numbers escalated to almost double in 2017. And why not? It is a completely unique place and experience – the perfect way to start the week off and to meet and socialise with fellow entrants.

Accessible by water only, yachties only need to throw out the pick and are ferried ashore to be greeted by Richard and Karen Bonato, who kindly host and cater this BBQ event for the Club. The couple opens their home to welcome yachties – happy to share their piece of paradise and meet competitors.

Don’t miss this special sailing occasion – it’s unlike any other.

Enter now via the official website:    

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

Save the Date for the 2018 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week - 30th August to 5th September 2018!

Save the Date!!

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                            6 September, 2017

Another matchless SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week comes to an end

Townsville Yacht Club’s SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week came to an end this afternoon, after six days of sailing and fun - a sailing event like no other in Australia.

Once again the AP set the tone for the morning, as the heat took control and no breeze was to be found, so crews lazed around, enjoying a long breakfast, reading and chatting aboard or sipping coffee at Peppers Blue on Blue resort.

The AP was pulled down shortly after midday when on-water officials reported a 4-5 knot easterly which looked set to increase.

Coming into the final race, Peter Lowndes’ Lyons 49, Wine Dark Sea, led PHS Division 1 by five points from TYC Commodore, John Stokes Mach 1 and Adrian Walters Shaw 11 Metre Little Nico (NSW). This division sailed six races, one more race that the other divisions.

“We’re sweating on whether Mr Thompson (PRO Denis Thompson) will pull down the AP,” he said, referring to their leading position. No sooner had he said it than the AP came down.

And sadly their dream finished there when Adrian Walters and his Shaw 11 Metre Little Nico won Race 6 and took the series by four points from Wine Dark Sea with TYC Commodore, John Stokes finishing third with his Bavaria Match 38, Mach 1.

Little Nico, from Sydney, named for Walters’ daughter Nicoleta (nicknamed Nico and Little Nico), was a family affair with Walters’ wife Sonja and son Aaron sailing along with Mitch White, Peter Ryan, Steve Perks, Bryony Gregory and Gus Williams, who recently won the Youth Match Racing Worlds with Harry Price and Tara Blanc Ramos

“We couldn’t have asked for a better course,” Walters said ashore. There was a lot of reaching in 8-16 knots on a 19 mile course. It’s been a hard but fun week. The harder you go, the more you get punished on handicap, so it’s pleasing to win,” he said. “Mitch and the boys give it their all – we go out early training, practicing sets and gybes etc.

“It’s a fantastic regatta – very laid-back and chilled with a lot of camaraderie,” said the Maggie Race Week first timer. 

Vanilla 2 and Vanilla 1 from Victoria were, paradoxically, on equal points sharing the Division 2 lead. The final race decided it in favour of Vanilla 2, skippered by Doug Shields, her third place today giving her seven point advantage over Vanilla 1, skippered by Steve ‘Harpo’ Harper. Little Miss Sunshine (Sam Pavic) also from Victoria, took third place.         

Geoff Adams S99, Rampallion (Vic) led Division 3 from Rainbow (Stuart Cocker, Qld) and the elegant Oasis (David Keyes-Tilley, Vic), but it was the fun crew of Librian, owned by Stanley Barnes who stole the show and the top trophy by winning the final race .

Librian won by one point from Rampallion, with a further point to Rainbow – 10th and eighth respectively in the last race.

In the Non-Spinnaker Division, Lady Virginia (Nicholas Cable, (Vic) was in the top spot going into the final race and won from  Lady Katherine (Peter McDonald, Qld) by just a point and Poppy (Michael Phillips, SA) by a further point. Both have been her toughest adversaries all week.

“We came all the way from Melbourne, we campaigned her at Hamilton Island and here at Magnetic – it’s our third time here – and we’re thrilled to win,” Cable said.

“We’ve had a lot of fun here – a lovely time – we really enjoyed Richard and Karen’s barbecue at Cape Upstart too. We did our very best today (they were third in this race which was won by Lady Katherine, with Chloe (Ian Burns), a local boat third. We had fierce competition. I’ll be 70 in April and feel like I’ve done it all – I can go happy,” he said.   

The Multihulls were an all-Townsville affair led by Mistress (Dennis Coleman), with Salacia (Ian Johnson) and The Boat Graeme Etherton, hot on her heels, one point behind on equal points. So Coleman finally got the win he has hankered over for years.

Mistress, a Corsair Sprint Mk1, finished third in the final Race 5 to take the overall win by two points to Graeme Etherton’s Crowther Windspeed 32 Cat, The Boat, while Rupert King’s Re1066t jumped up into third after winning Race 5. 

Coleman, whose crew is a tight-knit affair of eight years, includes son Nathan and Scott McInerney, a dab Contender sailor, who helms the boat.  

Prior to racing, Coleman and McInerney agreed: “We’d be happy if they cancelled racing today – it’s our best shot – we’d win!”

“Actually I’d be happy if we were even second or third – it would be the first time, we always end up fourth,” said Coleman, who fixes machinery in a meatworks by day and works with pizzas by night and has never missed Magnetic Island Race Week.

“We always start out well, so when we win, the handicapper nobbles us. Today will be interesting to see how it pans out,” added McInerney as the pair received an SMS to say racing would get underway shortly.

“Despite small numbers this year, the competition is fierce. You have to sail well every day,” said Coleman who loves sailing so much, McInerney says “he’s told the crew: ‘If I die while we’re racing, finish first, then drag my body ashore.”

On one of their main rivals, Salacia, owner Ian Johnson, has sailed here every year since the event started “and this boat (a Lightwave 38).

“We’re a bit slower than the others, but we’ve done OK. I think the handicappers have done a good job with our fleet,” said Johnson who was thinking the weather might be a bit light on for them today.  

“We absolutely prefer the windier days because we’re heavier, but having said that, we won on the really light day. We found a gust and then the race was shortened. Lucky us.”

The fleet as a whole benefitted from ideal mid-range breezes on the first two days of SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week. Day 3 was light but gave those specialists their opportunities, and while an AP started Days 3, 4 and 5, competitors could not complain about those days, because as the racing progressed, so did the breeze.

Warm sunshine every day, flat water sailing some days, with a little swell and waves on others.

As Ian Johnson and others pointed out – seven degrees in Melbourne, excessive cold gale-force winds in Sydney, snow in Bass Strait and on Mount Wellington in Tasmania and cloudy cold wet days in Adelaide versus the sun, green flat water and tropical setting of Townsville and Magnetic Island. Not to mention the convivial company you find at this regatta.

“It’s like the old style regattas where everyone sits around on their boats at the marina chatting and then we’re all together ashore for the prize giving and entertainment,” Johnson said and many others echoed throughout the week.  

At the official prize giving, the winner of each division will receive a framed Andrea Francolini photo of their boat taken during the week – a special prize that will be appreciated for years to come.  The top three in each division will also receive trophies.

Full results and all information:    


By Di Pearson, SMIRW media


PRESS RELEASE                                                                                           6 September, 2017

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Warrigal – home grown and raced   

Jim Finch is a Townsville local of some 50 years, arriving in Townsville for a holiday and never returning home – he has also attended all 11 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week’s with Warrigal – the Finch 40 he conceived, designed and built.

“I’m still on holiday,” says Finch laughing. I come from Albury-Wodonga originally and leaned to sail there on the Hume Weir – so I’m very good in light weather and at dodging trees,” he remembers of his time sailing a Corsair there.

But it is his bright orange yacht Warrigal that causes most interest, not in the least because of its colour. When the 73 year-old built it 27 years ago, yachts were predominantly white. “It was like a bomb going off when people saw her,” he says laughing.

“The concept for the boat came from three other boats. I built of her high-tensile steel and called her Warrigal (Dingo) cos she’s a Heinz variety,” says the former owner of JNS Motors, a panel beating and engineering shop in Townsville where the yacht was designed.

“It had to fit in the shed I had, therefore it’s 40 feet,” he recalls. “She’s strong and goes well in light air. I designed her for the Coral Sea Classic, but we never got around to doing it.”

However, Warrigal has raced with distinction locally “She was Townsville Yacht Club champion twice – in the late eighties and nineties.  

“I’ve been a member there 50 years, on the Board for four years and was Vice Commodore once,” Finch says of the Club which organises hosts SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week.   

“I believe I saw the Club through some very productive years and helped pre-form it into what it is today.”

Warrigal also won the Ansett Challenge at Hamilton Island a long, long time ago. Here at Magnetic Island where she is racing in PHS Division 2, Warrigal and her crew of Finch, Alan and Michelle Glanville, Peter Minogue and Peter ‘Kiwi’ King, scored their best result on Monday’s light air, finishing sixth in a hot fleet.

When Finch says he’s done all 11 Magnetic Island Race Weeks, he means almost. In 2008 he recalls: “We were in the middle of racing and I couldn’t work out which side of the line I should be on. I knew there was something wrong, I remember it distinctly.

“The chest pains got worse and the manager at Peppers got the medical people here. Once they stabilised me, I went out in style on a helicopter, leaving Magnetic Island behind. I was in the process of having a heart attack.”

In Intensive Care for 10 days, the upbeat Finch also discovered “I was a screaming Type 2 diabetic – probably all the rums I drank after racing!”

As soon as he could, Finch was back sailing.  He is, as usual, here for the 11th Magnetic Island Race Week, enjoying the racing and camaraderie “and grateful to still be here,” he said.

And on other boats, just when you thought Elvis had left the building, he turned up on Michael Phillips’ Poppy this morning, blue suede shoes and all, but refused to sing a note.

That was not the case on Stanley Barnes’ Librian and Donna Dewhurst’s Soul Sister though. Both crews leave the dock singing and return the same way each day. Naturally, the ladies on Soul Sister start with their namesake song.

All these capers happen well after the beautiful sunrises at Magnetic Island each day.

For all information on SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, go to:    


By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                            5 September, 2017

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: From light to lovely conditions

Sunrise gave what appeared to be a sneak preview of the day to come at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week – hot, sticky and a little airless, Denis Thompson and his team new they were in for another morning of hard decisions after yesterday’s testing conditions where light wind changed direction at whim.

A postponement ashore for the Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) 11th Race Week and finally the fleet was on the water and PHS Division 1 kicked off racing at 12.25pm, with PHS 2, 3, Non-Spinnaker Division and Multihulls starting at five minute intervals after. Each division piled up at the boat end of the line, with a few loud voices heard when the going became too close.

Tony Muller, owner of Brava, humorously relates: “Big Vanilla (at 17.5 metres) nearly killed everyone on the start line, stuffing up little Vanilla (16.2m) and us. Little Vanilla only just managed to avoid t-boning them, and little Brava (12.3m) had to avoid t-boning both.

“It was a great day otherwise. We had a lovely shy kite run home, the breeze topped out at 18 knots,” PHS Division 2 competitor, Muller, said.

The two Farr 40s Ponyo (David Currie, Vic) and Guilty Pleasures VI (Hughie Lewis/Gary Cripps, Tas) were on for another match race and both crossed the start line early, but both recuperated quickly in a pleasant light 5-7 knot breeze.

It didn’t affect Ponyo, which finished second to Tony Ritter’s Thompson 7 sports boat, Spank, with Mach 1, owned by Townsville Yacht Club Commodore, John Stokes, third.

Just when all looked to be a light race, the wind kicked in as the Division 1 yachts  came to a mark, kites set and bearing away.

As the breeze increased, Therapy’s (Thomas Hoogenbosch, Vic) kite shred, her crew having to get quickly into gear to pull it down.

Ashore, everyone seemed happy enough.

Doug Shields skippered Vanilla 2 today and said he and the crew had thoroughly enjoyed the kite run home.

“That is our best point of sail and on the long leg we made good speed,” Shields said after picking up substantial boat speed on the shy run home.

“It certainly made up for our digression earlier on in the race,” he said in reference to the light 6-8 knots at the start of the race and the fading breeze coming to the second mark, which does not suit the Dufour 560 Gl.

“The breeze shifted there and we got hammered by Vanilla 1 and others, but being wide, we picked up on the reaching legs and the leg home the breeze picked up to 10 knots plus. Nice,” ended Shields of their day in which they finished seventh and continue to lead Division 2 overall.

On Vaniila 1, a charter for Magnetic Island Race Week, Steve ‘Harpo’ Harper said: “We’re a bunch mainly from Sandringham Yacht Club. We’re loving the friendly competition with Vanilla 2. They beat us today – they’re bigger.”

On board too is John Middleton, a long time sailing instructor/race official from Melbourne. “This is my first time at Maggie – another one ticked off the bucket list,” he said referring to a nasty bout with prostate cancer.  “This is a pretty good place to be – meeting up with a lot of old friends from years gone by.

“It was a bit light for us today. Hopefully we can hold our position, have a good race tomorrow and finish on the podium.” Vanilla 1 finished fifth today to maintain second place overall – on equal points with her main rival at this regatta.

On today’s Division 2 winner, ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, the Beneteau Sense 50’s owner, Sam Pavic, was explaining the name. “It’s for my wife Denise (she’s also racing here). The tender is called ‘Mr Grumpy’ and that’s for me,” he said, before anyone else got the chance.

The win today has lifted the beautifully appointed boat up to 10th place overall and the nine crew aboard had a good day out, including Kevin Wilson, who normally does duty as a race offer, having a rare few days off.

“It was a beautiful day from start to finish – we loved it all,” said Pavic, explaining, “This is our first time at Race Week. The boat is purely for Denise and our family for cruising - it is four metres wide across the bottom – not built for racing. Our daughter and her fiancé will join us up here after the regatta and we’ll do some cruising.”

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week finishes tomorrow with one final race planned.

Full results and all information:    


By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                            5 September, 2017

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Tevake II – I’ve been everywhere man!   

Fluttering race flags from every major race and regatta on and from the east coast of Australia makes the 13.6 metre Radford designed Tevake II a standout at Townsville Yacht Club’s SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week where she is racing for the third time.

An indefatigable Angus Fletcher bought the 2000 launched Tevake II in 2005 from her original Fremantle owner. She replaced his original Tevake (purchased in 1986), named for Basil Tevake, a master Polynesian navigator of whom Fletcher is fascinated by.

“She is also named for the Tevake bird,” Fletcher says of the white-tailed-tropicbird found in the Pacific. “I thought it was a nice name for a boat and that if we needed guidance in the Pacific, the spirits might help us.”

The pair has cruised, raced, won and placed up and down the east coast of Australia since commencing Tevake II’s offshore racing career in 2006. They are wonderful ambassadors for the relatively small Hobsons Bay Yacht Club in Victoria.

“My first offshore race with the boat was the Melbourne Hobart. We used and wrecked just about every sail. It’s an interesting time to go into Bass Strait,” Fletcher recalled.

“We were fourth over the line behind three 60 footers and unfortunately one boat beat us to the overall win.”

Since that time, Tevake II has become a seasoned campaigner, racing through the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria’s entire program with success. “And for my sins, I became Commodore there for a short time,” he says.

“While competing there, I was looking for a new race to do out of Melbourne. George Shaw and I came up with the Melbourne to Vanuatu Yacht Race,” he says of the leg stretching 1885 nautical mile race which was inaugurated in 2006. He competed that year and again in 2010 when Tevake II took line honours.

Their resume also includes the 2006 Vanuatu to Mackay, six Melbourne to Hobart West Coasters (scoring successive overall wins in the 2012 and 2013), numerous shorter Bass Strait races, along with the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Sydney to Hobarts, with a best result of third in PHS Division 1 in 2014.

“The West Coasters are more difficult than the Sydney Hobart,” Fletcher says.

The two have also competed in the Sydney Gold Coast race, at Airlie Beach Race Week and Magnetic Island in 2014 and again 2016 when they won Cruising Division 1. The Club Marine Brisbane to Keppel is another favourite, “and the only race we’ve retired from. There was little wind and some of the crew had to get back to work,” Fletcher says.

“If I start a race, I intend to finish it. I strongly believe you should finish every race you start. So we have just the one cross against us.”

All the while Fletcher has been plying Tevake II up and down the east coast, he has cruised her to each of these events, thousands upon thousands of miles.

“I never get sick of it; I just like getting out. It’s a perfect escape, getting away from it all. The best thing about racing is when the start gun goes. You have to rely on yourself.”

Although he only came to offshore racing in 1988, Fletcher, who turns 72 “in a month and a half’s time,” says: “I talked my parents into buying me a Gwen 12 when I was 15. My brother and I spent the first season upside down - but it didn’t stop me. I can’t imagine not sailing. Life has been busy…”

For all information on SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, go to:    


By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                            4 September, 2017

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Diamonds for some stones for others

A slow start to the day as Denis Thompson and his on water officials patiently waited for a light breeze to filter through, which it eventually did and Day 3 racing SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week finally got underway one hour late at 12pm.

It was painfully slow going up the first beat in the Townsville Yacht Club hosted regatta, and in complete contrast to the first two days when the fleet experienced 13 -22 knot winds. Not only that, but the weak easterly changed to a northerly, the breeze fading in and out and becoming patchy and elusive. For some it was diamonds and for others, diamonds turned to stones.

In PHS Division 1, David Currie’s Ponyo and Robert Green’s MBD41, Reignition, started best. Never A Dull Moment, Col and Denise Wilson (NSW), were called back to restart after crossing early, but it was not long before they had overhauled their Lyons 49 sistership, Wine Dark Sea (Peter Lowndes, NSW), leaving them in their wake.

As usual, Adrian Walters’ Little Nico was quick off the start, while astern of the Shaw 11 Metre, the two Farr 40’s, Ponyo and Guilty Pleasures VI (Hughie Lewis/Gary Cripps, Tas) match raced up the beat, but somewhere on the first run, Ponyo left her sistership in her wake.

The light air was perfect for the two Farr 40s’s, Little Nico and for Peter Sorensen and crew on the Thompson 7, Spank.

Ponyo won PHS 1 from the other Guilty Pleasures (VII, owned by local Leon Thomas) with Peter Lowndes’ Wine Dark Sea third.

David Currie spoke of their day: “On the run, Little Nico headed inshore. We knew from experience not to do that. We got a puff and got in front of Nico and Guilty Pleasures with our bigger Code Zero. We gybed and got the first bit of the northerly – those behind us didn’t get it,” he said.

“Near the mark off Townsville, it got lighter and lighter. Nico came down with breeze and caught back the near leg we had taken from them. We saw the multis spearing and boats hitting marks and each other in the next to nothing breeze. We were lucky to get through – it was a very testing day,” the Victorian ended.

Col and Denis Wilson were doing their best to rack up another win to celebrate their tactician and Olympian, Nev Wittey’s 60th birthday today. Wittey, though, was left ashore after falling victim to the dreaded lurgy that has been around these past four weeks. In the end they finished fifth overall. Little Nico leads the division after three races from Wine Dark Sea and sistership Never a Dull Moment.

Division 2 got away surprisingly cleanly considering the bulk of boats piled up at the pin end. Doug Ryan’s Beneteau 44.7, Shazam, and Peter Byford’s Jeanneau 469 L’ Esprit, were away best, just squeezing Vanilla 2, David Perkins’ Dufour 560 out at the pin. Despite this, Vanilla 2 continues to lead the pointscore by two points to Vanilla 1!

Those in Division 3 also got off the line cleanly, then came the Multihull Division. All was well until they were caught in some patchy light air going down the run the first time, with Graeme Etherton and crew on The Boat first to have trouble flying their kite. Etherton was forced to drop down on the course and behind them, Dennis Coleman’s Mistress also struggled.

By the gybe mark, Mistress had overhauled The Boat, while Adrian Lawrie’s Scamper was far enough ahead of the two and did not suffer. However, the gybe mark also provided plenty of overtaking lanes and many took advantage. Ian Johnson’s Salacia won Race 3 to take the series lead from The Boat which is now on equal points with second placed Mistress.

In the Non-Spinnaker Division, the crew of Poppy were exhilarated. “We got the gun,” said South Australian owner Michael Phillips after crossing the line first in their division and winning overall to take the series lead by three points from Nicholas Cable’s Lady Virginia.

“The day went very well for us, thank you! We picked the right side of the start line towards the middle, so got away well. We lost concentration a lot further down the track and coming up to the last mark was most frustrating – the breeze changed and we were almost becalmed, but kept moving slowly. It was hard steering.

“Fortunately, the breeze came back, so we had a nice work back to the finish,” the Adelaide yachtsman said.

David Keyes-Tilley also got the gun today with his beautiful Sky 51 design cruiser/racer Oasis coming home first in PHS Division 3. She finished third overall and is third overall in the pointscore. The Sandringham YC yachtsman said: “We sailed smart today and scored our third from three line honours victory.”

While Keyes-Tilley and most of his crew have raced at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week before, it is the first time he’s brought the 37 year-old yacht he has owned for 11 years to this event.

“We are absolutely happy with our performance. As you can see, she is a heavy boat  - 23 tonnes, so she’s better in a big breeze.”

As to whether they are enjoying themselves, crew member and 1984 Olympic crew in the Soling, Dean Gordon, said tongue firmly in cheek: “Hating it. Lousy place. It’s dirty work but someone has to be here. I can’t wait to get back to Melbourne to see if the weather’s more than 7 degrees.”

Keyes-Tilley, a dentist, said they were having a ball. “After this, I will do some cruising around the Whitsundays with my family before going back to work.”

It was a day of drivers having to give it their full attention while crews sat to leeward and had moments enough to take in the beautiful scenery which Magnetic Island has an abundance of.

Racing resumes tomorrow from 11am. More light weather is expected.

Full results and all information:    


By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                             4 September, 2017

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Argy bargy at Beer Can Regatta – pier jumping at Picnic Bay    

It was layday at Townsville Yacht Club’s SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week yesterday so crews and locals got stuck into the Magnetic Island Rotary Beer Can Regatta and turned lunch and a live band at Picnic Bay into the Inaugural Pier Jump.

The quiet achievers of the Beer Can Regatta, “The Italian Stallions’, won the event after getting off to an ordinary start.

“They were dressed and looked like gondoliers in Venice. The boat was even made to look like a gondola,” an observer, Judy said.

“They were probably the oldest crew there and they won by a long way,” he she said.

A team named ‘The Happy Hookers’ also did well, probably stunning people with their name. the Port of Townsville entry started disintegrating straight off the start and fell apart quite quickly while going around in circles as they could not get into sequence, which left some viewers quite disturbed, while the Peppers Blue crew played the game hard.

“They started pelting flour bombs and they were followed by water balloons and rotten eggs,” Julian said.      

Back on the Beer Can race course, there was a fair amount of argy bargy at the top mark, competitors confused about which way to round it – typical yachties! It wasn’t pretty as some makeshift boats went nose down, others crashing broadside. It was on for young and old.

Meanwhile, over at Picnic Bay for a supposed spot of lunch while listening to some Australian rock from the Godfathers of Funk, some got it into their mind it was time for a pier jump, and so the inaugural Pier Jump competition came into being.

The Jump was led, naturally, by the Unhinged crew (no names, no pack drill) and pretty soon it was on for young and old. Five of the Wine Dark Sea crew (also naturally) joined in.

“First we enjoyed a seafood extravaganza,” Wine Dark Sea owner, said Peter Lowndes, and then we joined in.”

A normally competitive Olympian, Karyn Gojnich, decided watching was better. “You needed more than a competitive spirit,” she said laughing.

However, Lowndes’ partner, Sarah Goddard-Jones gave it a go: “It took me five false starts and finally I launched – I really wanted to do it,” she said.

While a number of participants favoured the feet first approach, as the competition wore on, others became more creative and there were some pikes and  double pikes thrown in for good measure.

This morning, Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson warned competitors the breeze would be a lot lighter than the past two days. There were no groans of disappointment. The truth is, most are still recovering from lay day at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week. Many were seen sipping coffees at Peppers Blue on Blue while waiting to discover what the day will hold.

For all information on SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, go to:    

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                            2 September, 2017

Thrills, spills and a reef to contend with at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

Competitors at Townsville Yacht Club’s SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week contested the Around the Island Race today in winds up to 20 knots on a rather large swell, meaning a good time for some, damaged for others and one boat hit Middle Reef, despite warnings from the Race Committee.

Wayne McNee’s Celebrity was an early casualty when she scraped Middle Reef and had to be towed back to the Peppers Resort marina, one crew member quipping: “We’ll be wearing false beards at the prize giving tonight so nobody recognises us.”

McNee, from  Queensland, said this afternoon, “We haven’t done any damage as far as we’ve seen so far, so we should be right to race on Monday (tomorrow is a lay day). We only scraped it, there wasn’t a ’bang’ as such.”

Graeme Etherton, owner of the Crowther Windspeed 32 Cat named ‘The Boat’ (Qld), said they could not have had a better day after literally match-racing the larger Scamper, Adrian Lawrie’s  Schionning 15.2 (50ft) around the course until the South Australian Scamper set spinnaker for the home leg and could not be caught.

“We had a good tussle with Scamper. We led them almost to Horseshoe Bay when they overtook us, then we passed them again, doing 15 knots of boat speed. They put up a kite and said ‘goodbye’ and we weren’t able to catch them again. They got around 51 seconds in front of us and finished with that same margin, Etherton said, adding they had clocked up to 21.5 knots.

“A good day out – two good days of sailing, very enjoyable,” he said after winning the race from Scamper by nearly five minutes and lead the pointscore by one point from fellow Queenslander, Mistress (Dennis Coleman). Making up a Queensland trio, in third place is Salacia (Ian Johnson).

On Guilty Pleasures VI, a Farr 40, new Tasmanian owners Hughie Lewis and Gary Cripps said they benefitted from their sistership, Ponyo (owned by David Currie from Victoria), tearing their main during the race.

“It was fairly windy – up to 20 knots – and very lumpy,” Lewis said after finishing 11th in PHS 1. “We got a fairly good start and then ran a symmetric spinnaker – we should have set an asymmetrical. After that was a fairly big beat on the other side of the Island.

“Ponyo (which finished second in division last year) was ahead of us, but then she tore her main from top to bottom, so they had to drop it – and we overtook them – not how we wanted to do it, but there you have it,” said Lewis who was on his way to Ponyo to offer Currie the use of Guilty Pleasure VI’s spare main.

Lewis and Cripps, who sail for Bellerive Yacht Club in Tasmania, only took delivery of the Farr 40 two weeks before contesting Airlie Beach Race Week.

“It was light, so it suited us there – the boat goes well in the light,” Cripps said of winning Cruising Division 1 there.  

It didn’t give much time to learn the boat which Lewis said they came by via a Farr 40 sailing friend Colin Thomas.

“I had been sailing an SB20 and Gary was sailing a Sydney 38 and we decided to go back to the dark side and buy a fast yacht. We told Colin we needed something that was already in Queensland, it had to be cheap and have new rod rigging. Colin said ‘I’ve got something that ticks all the boxes’, and here we are.”

Lewis says the average age on board is 63. “Except for my 30 year old son-in-law on the bow and we bought the boat to have fun with it. We don’t want to get too serious. We call ourselves ‘Gerry and the Atrics’,” he said laughing.

In PHS 1, the first division away at 11am, Adrian Walters’ Shaw 11 Metre, Little Nico, took off like a rocket not to be seen again. She took line honours and won the race from Magnetic Island Race Week’s event chairman, Mike Steel and his Boadicca. Peter Lowndes Wine Dark Sea was third,. With a second and a win, Little Nico leads the division from sisterships, Wine Dark Sea and Never a Dull Moment.      

For all results and all information:    


By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                            1 September, 2017

From hospital bed to winner at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 

Winning today’s opening race at Townsville Yacht Club’s SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week was a bigger deal than usual for Sydney yachtsman, Colin Wilson, who until recently was recovering from a minor heart attack in Townsville Hospital.

Wilson and his wife and boat partner Denise are here for their sixth appearance at the annual event, which is celebrating its 11th year, but a short time ago, Wilson did not know whether he would be ready to sail or not.

What should have been a routine tooth extraction was anything but, when it caused Wilson to have the heart attack. Sidelined, he left his Lyons 49 in the capable hands of Tony Kirby for Airlie Beach Race Week and did all doctors told him to so he could race here at Maggie Island.

“It’s so good to be back on the water and to end the day with a win – good for my first sail. I was so relaxed and in full sailing mode,” Wilson said.

“We had a blinder upwind and just felt in the groove – and stayed there. The weather was fabulous – 13-14 knots.”   

A corker of a day with an ideal breeze and sunny skies for the opening day at today, but not everyone got off to the start they wanted.

On Wine Dark Sea owner Peter Lowndes was hoping to give Never a Dull Moment a run for his money – you see each owns a Lyons 49’s and both live in NSW. And both had a trick or  two up their sleeves – Lowndes has three-time Olympian Karen Gojnich in the afterguard, while Wilson has Olympian and former world champion Nev Wittey calling tactics and sailmaker Ian (Hood Sails) Broad.

“I’ve known Broady for around 30 years. We’re mates and I love having him on the boat – he’s an asset,” Wilson said.

Lowndes, who finished fifth today, was worrying this morning that everything on the boat was shipshape.

“You know how it is when you haven’t raced for a little while and you’re wondering if you’ve done all the jobs? I think we’re ready. We’ll soon see,” he said.

Adrian Walters’ Shaw 11 Metre, Little Nico, took line honours from Never a Dull Moment and finished second overall in PHS Division 1.

First race nerves go the better of PHS Division 2 competitors, Thomas Hoogenbosch’s Bavaria 46 Therapy (Vic), and the locals on Mal Pirett’s Beneteau Oceanis 45, Champagne. Both were called over the start early, but Champagne’s crew did not heed the first call, so trailed her division as the fleet sailed uphill towards Cape Cleveland.

Perhaps the Therapy guys will drink champagne to recover this evening and the champagne guys might need some therapy!

Meanwhile, Australian Sailing’s relatively new president, John Lee, arrived at Magnetic Island in time to jump a ride on Mach 1, owned by Townsville Yacht Club Commodore, John Stokes. They finished fourth overall in PHS Division 1.

In PHS Division 2, Paul Commins’ Beneteau First 50 Carp Diem finished second, sandwiched between Vanilla 1, Peter McAdam’s Jeanneau54ds and David Perkins’ Dufour 560 Gl Vanilla 2.

Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson sent PHS 1 and 2 and Multihulls to Course 1, while PHS 3, and the Non-Spinnaker Division sailed the shorter Course 2 for Nautilus Marine Day Race 1. The scenic Around the Island Race is planned for tomorrow, starting from 11am.

Sixty five entries from Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and NSW are taking part in SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week.

Full results and all information:    


By Di Pearson, SMIRW media



Wednesday 30 August 

A full complement of boats will take part in the 11th SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, to be held from 31 August to 6 September, for yet another year of spectacular racing set against some of Australia’s most breathtaking scenery here in tropical North Queensland, showcasing Townsville and Magnetic Island as a premier racing destination. 

Townsville Yacht Club has grown this event from a fleet of 21 boats in 2007, to now being a ‘must – do’ on many sailors’ calendars, evidenced by the variety of people who participate from Olympic and world class sailors to pure cruisers, sports boat and multihull sailors – the event caters to all types.

This year, Karen Gojnich, a three-time Australian Olympian and with her crew Nicky Bethwaite, the first women to ever represent Australia in sailing at an Olympic Games, returns after participating for the first time last year. And for the first time, Adrian Walters is bringing his sexy, sleek black Rob Shaw 11 metre designed ‘Little Nico from Sydney.

Boats will travel from as far afield as Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and NSW, ready to take on the ’locals’ for SeaLink Magnetic Island Race week, hosted by Townsville Yacht Club and proudly sponsored by SeaLink Queensland.

WHAT:                 Launch of SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 2017  

                            Announcement of fleet numbers and other information

WHEN:                 10.00am to 11.00am

                             Wednesday 30 August, 2017

WHERE:               Townsville Yacht Club

                              1 Plume Street, Townsville 4810

                              (Limited street parking only – please allow extra time to park)

WHO:                   Denis Thompson, Principal Race Officer

                             Tony Muller, Rear Commodore, Townsville Yacht Club and SMIRW competitor

                             Executive Committee     

VISUALS:            Participating yachts at Townsville Yacht Club

CONTACT:           Terri Mitchell, Townsville Yacht Club media manager

                             0410 477 244 or email: [email protected]

For more information about SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, please visit:

For hi-res photographs of last year’s SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week for editorial use, please ask Terri Mitchell

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                                 8 August, 2017

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Entrants prepare for a week of fun and sun

Entries for Townsville Yacht Club’s SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week have reached 65 and most are already gearing up for a week of sailing, soaking up sun and catching up with friends for the final northern regatta, held during the first week of spring.

It does not cost an arm or a leg to compete at the event, set at the 52 square kilometre Magnetic Island, named in 2009 as one of Queensland’s 150 icons for its role as a ‘Natural attraction’. Located off Townsville, it is hard to beat the beauty of the Island and its surrounds. The natives are very welcoming and the accommodation, well, it’s pretty perfect, the centrepiece of racing and all social activities.    

So far, the Cruising Spinnaker/PHS boasts the largest number to-date, with 45 entered, including Angus Fletcher, back to defend his Division 1 title with Tevake II. This sleek 17 year-old Radford 13.7m is a seasoned campaigner, according to her Victorian owner.

“We’ve successfully completed in the 2006 and 2010 Melbourne to Vanuatu races, the 2006 Vanuatu to Mackay; 2006, 2010 and 2014 Sydney to Hobarts; six Melbourne to Hobart West Coasters and numerous shorter Bass Strait races,” Fletcher says.

Notable results in recent years include line honours in the 2010 Melbourne to Vanuatu and back-to-back overall wins in the 2012 and 2013 Melbourne to Hobart West Coasters. He has also competed at Airlie Beach Race Week and the past two Magnetic Island Race Weeks.

“I’m looking forward to the race up to Keppel, then Airlie Beach and Magnetic Island Race Weeks,” the Victorian said.

Joining Tevake II are fellow ‘returnees’ Sydney yachties, Peter Lowndes and Sarah Goddard-Jones, with their Lyons 49 Wine Dark Sea.

The couple famously raced with their cats Smudge and Noodles at ‘Maggie’ Island Race Week last year, but the felines will be missing in action this time.

“We started our trip around Australia in April and after the two months practice last year, we decided the cats were not really enjoying the long distance cruising (though they loved the racing), so before we left, we found them a new home with loving new parents,” Lowndes says.

Lowndes otherwise confirms the crew is similar to last year: “We’re delighted to have Karyn Gojnich on board again. She represented Australia at three Olympic Games, is a board member of Australian Sailing and in 2015 was elected Vice President of the Oceania Sailing Federation. She’s put so much back into sailing.”  

Goddard-Jones adds: “Similar to last year, we have a largely female crew, with just three token males (including Pete) – one more than last year. Most are our regulars from Sydney racing, and we’re very much looking forward to seeing everyone again.  From Maggie, Pete’s parents will join us to sail the next leg of our trip, heading up to Gove in the Northern Territory.

On the social scene, breakfast is a friendly affair at Peppers Resort restaurant. At the Opening Night Welcome, rock band Dr Jack on Pepper’s Deck will kick-start the nightly entertainment, while drinks and a prize giving daily following racing is accompanied by the day’s highlights, made more fun by a running commentary from TV personality Scotty Hillier.

The presentation night buffet dinner at Peppers closes the week, with lots of fun activities in between, including a cocktail night at Townsville Yacht Club. See ‘Social Events’ on the official website for the day by day program.

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week is open to IRC, PHS, Cruising in Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker yachts, Trailable Yachts, Sports Boats along with divisions for Multihull Racing and Multihull Cruising boats. 

The current crop of entries represent Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and NSW.

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media


PRESS RELEASE                                                                                               19 July, 2017

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Cape Upstart stopover back on the menu

Because it was so well-received in 2016, SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week organisers are planning to host the Cape Upstart stopover again this year, for boats travelling from Airlie and/or Hamilton Island to SMIRW. 

“Cape Upstart is totally unique to this event,” Mike Steel, Event Chairman and Townsville Yacht Club (TYC) Director said of the event which was added to the calendar for the first time last year.

“It’s a great way for competitors, particularly those from interstate who are travelling from other regattas to unwind and get to know each other. It was a lot of fun and is a great way to start our regatta off,” he said.

“Richard and Karen Bonato kindly host and cater this BBQ event for the Club, opening their home at Cape Upstart to welcome yachties. Richard is not a yachtie, rather a motor boat owner, who is thrilled to share his piece of paradise.

“Cape Upstart is inaccessible by land, so the Club ferries competitors ashore from their yachts moored off the beach. We had around 100 attending last year and everyone made the most of the night, including a big bonfire.”

Steel’s comments are endorsed by Victorian yachtsman Mark Chew, who participated and took photos before racing his beautiful classic timber boat, Fair Winds’, at Magnetic Island last year: “It was a wonderful night with a big fire on the beach. It was really beautiful gesture,” he recalled.

“Competitors only had to supply the drinks,” he said of the memorable evening that combined convivial company and a seafood BBQ provided by the Club set amid some of the most spectacular scenery on offer in Australia.

TYC will send an invitation for Cape Upstart to all registered boat owners in August and also has other social events in the pipeline, while Queensland television personality, Scott Hillier, returns to film and comment live on the action at the daily prize giving. 

To-date, TYC has received 55 entries from monohull and multihull owners. Among them are two ‘ten timers’ for the 11th running of SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, which will be raced from 31 August until 6 September.  

TYC members Stanley Barnes with his Supersonic 27, Librian and Mike Steel, again skippering his Dufour 36, Boadicca have not missed since the event’s inception. Not far behind them is Ian Johnson’s Salacia with nine, while Doug Ryan (Shazam), Graeme Etherton (The Boat) and Jack Maguire (Zen) have each attended eight.

The event is open to IRC, PHS, Cruising in Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker yachts, Trailable Yachts, Sports Boats along with divisions for Multihull Racing and Cruising boats. 

Entries close on Thursday 24th August 2017, so enter now to race against the current crop of 55 representing Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and NSW.

Enter online via the official website:    

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                                13 June, 2017

‘Never a Dull Moment’ at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

There is ‘never a dull moment’ at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, just ask returnees Colin and Denise Wilson, enduring owners of a yacht bearing that name who enjoy the scenic racing on the Coral Sea and the fun times the event offers.

“It’s the happiest regatta in Australia,” Colin pronounces. Wife, Denise, concurs.

“We were having withdrawal symptoms,” Denise says, explaining their last appearance in 2014 when they finished second overall to Peter Jones’ Spirit of Mateship in the PHS class, which they have elected to sail in again in 2017. 

Colin adds, “The reason we love it so much is because it’s so relaxing. Everyone is happy and the camaraderie is second to none. We love the friendly atmosphere. Everything is two minutes away – accommodation, restaurant, bar, the marina. And it’s all first-class, but doesn’t cost the earth. 

The Sydney couple who have sailed all the major’s on the Eastern seaboard with their MKL49, Never A Dull Moment over many years, also enjoys the relaxed and welcoming nature of event organisers, Townsville Yacht Club - and the social program the Club takes pains to organise.

“It’s something different every year. I remember the first time we went they organised Cane Toad races – each boat was given one to race. It was hilarious. We also love the evening prize giving sessions,” Denise says.

“You can sit an enjoy a coffee watching for the postponement flag to come down; jump on board when it does and then motor to the start line in a couple of minutes. You can’t beat it,” Colin adds with a big smile on his face.

He has only one complaint. “Everyone wants to crew for us at Magnetic Island - we actually have to knock people back - we have a waiting list. Usually I am scraping to find a full crew at away events.” 

The Wilsons, from Sydney, are looking forward to first racing at Airlie Beach Race Week and then the sail up to SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, this year to be held from 31 August until 6 September. They were in the throes of taking advantage of the Peppers Blue on Blue Resort 15% discount off the Bed and Breakfast fully serviced price when we spoke to them.

The offer is available for 7 x 3 bedroom apartments (up to six people); 3 x Studio Superiors (two people); 5 x Hotel Superiors (2 people), inclusive of 15 rooms with marina views, with a daily hot buffet breakfast, daily housekeeping service thrown in. 

The offer, subject to room availability, ends 30th June 2017 unless sold sooner and must be booked direct, by calling the resort on: 07 47 582 400. Quote ‘Magnetic Island Race Week Early Bird Special’ to receive this special. Don’t miss out.

Magnetic Island is a scenic 20 minute ride from Townsville. The Island’s marina (a two minute walk from the ferry) and its first–class facilities can cater for over 100 boats.

The event is open to IRC, PHS, Cruising in Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker yachts, Trailable Yachts, Sports Boats along with divisions for Multihull Racing and Cruising boats. 

At the time of writing, 44 entries have been received, representing Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and NSW.

For online entry and NoR, visit the official website:    

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

Further information: Di Pearson, SLMIRW media manager, phone: 0410 792 131

PRESS RELEASE - 17 May 2017

The cat is out of the bag, Townsville sailors are going to work some early pre-event training into their schedules in an effort to outsail their interstate counterparts when SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week gets underway on the last day of August.

The 11th running of ‘Maggie Island’ Race Week will be held from 31 August to 6 September and members from the host, Townsville Yacht Club (TYC), are buoyed up and ready to rumble ahead of the Coral Sea classic.

"A few of us are headed to Quicksilver Port Douglas Race Week this month. It will be a good opportunity to put in some racing practice outside of our Townsville Yacht Club races,” TYC’s Rear Commodore, Tony Muller, confirms. “We have six boats making up the fleet of 11 in Division 1 for this year’s event.” 

Included in the “few of us” who will take part at both events is Muller, with his Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409, ‘Brava’, as he is keen to successfully defend his Cruising Spinnaker Division 1 title of last year at Magnetic Island.

Doug Ryan's Beneteau 44.7, 'Shazam', winner of the title in 2015 will also be on both start lines. Ryan is extremely familiar with the waters of these events, having lived in Port Douglas, where he was commodore of Port Douglas Yacht Club, before settling at Magnetic Island.

And while Mal and Sylvia Pirret only occasionally race during the TYC season with their perfectly named Beneteau Oceanis 45, 'Champagne', they are likely to be strong competition and have competed at Port Douglas Race Week to prepare over these past few years.

Other ‘Maggie Island’ regulars from TYC who have confirmed they will race at Port Douglas include Wayne Millar and his Murray 41, ‘Zoe,’ well-known for their participation in all the major regattas and races in eastern Australian.

Meanwhile, Mike Steel, Townsville Yacht Club’s Event Chairman for Magnetic Island Race Week, is feeling grateful they can go ahead with the event at all, because the region was incredibly left untouched by Cyclone Debbie.

“We all bunkered down for Cyclone Debbie, but all we saw were gusts to 30 knots. Fortunately for Townsville and the Magnetic Island region, we escaped unscathed,” Steel commented.

“We were lucky to be on the northern side of the system, unlike our neighbours in the Whitsundays and Airlie Beach, who experienced excessive damage.

“Thankfully, North Queenslanders have bounced back and we’ll see all three northern regattas run as per plan. 

“Many of Townsville’s businesses have been busy assisting residents and businesses to get back on track, so I expect by August, much of the damage will just be a memory,” ended Steel who will again bring his Dufour 36, ‘Boadicca’ to the start line at Magnetic Island.

Prospective competitors are reminded there is still a little time to take advantage of the Peppers Blue on Blue Resort 15% discount off the Bed and Breakfast fully serviced price.

The offer, subject to room availability, ends 30 June 2017, unless sold prior and must be booked direct, by calling the resort on: 07 47 582 400. Quote ‘Magnetic Island Race Week Early Bird Special’ to receive this special. Don’t miss out. 

At this early stage, entries from Queensland, NSW and Victoria exceed 20. The event is open to IRC, PHS, Cruising in Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker yachts, Trailable Yachts, Sports Boats along with divisions for Multihull Racing and Cruising boats. 

Discounted Early Bird entry closes on 31 May, so enter now via the official website:     

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

PRESS RELEASE                                                                              14 March, 2017

Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week entry open – 40th and 80th birthdays for first entrants

Online entry to Townsville Yacht Club’s 2017 Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week is open, with the first entry coming from Akarana as she celebrates her 40th birthday while her owner, Ian Hamilton, is to celebrate his 80th during the September event.

Celebrations for Akarana, known to all regulars at Magnetic Island, have already begun, according to the owner’s daughter, Vicki, who is now skippering the yacht.

“In 2013 there was a changing of the guard,” says Vicki, who has not looked back since taking over from her father, who at 79 still enjoys being involved.

“Dad turns 80 on the 2nd of September, so he’ll be aboard to celebrate during Maggie Island Race Week. He’s really looking forward to it. He loves to sail,” says Ian’s daughter, who only has to cross the water between Townsville and Magnetic Island to compete.

So a double celebration is imminent at the 11th running of Sealink Magnetic Island, to be held from 31 August to 6 September. And the dress-up themes the crew has become renowned for will be on again, although the Hamiltons remain tight-lipped but promise they will not disappoint.

“You’ll just have to wait and see,” says Vicki, whose crew enters into the spirit of the event wholeheartedly. Previous themes have included Barbie in 2009, cowboys in 2010, 1970s rock stars in 2011, sexy pirates in 2013, Mexican fiesta in 2015 and last year it was burlesque (dad Ian took centre stage in a tux).

Akarana, a Farr 1104, was designed to the IOR rule as a rule beater by the eminent Bruce Farr. “The hull was state of the art in those days, being fibre, built of foam sandwich with a steel frame, but has since been reconstructed in laminated hardwood,” Vicki says.

She was trucked from Compass yachts Sydney in October 1976, fitted out in Townsville by Ian Hamilton and launched in 1977 in time for the annual Easter Ocean race from Townsville to Dunk Island, which she won.

Rated as a one tonner, she went on as to win the Mooloolaba 79 SCOR series and followed up with success in the inaugural Gladstone to Cairns race and subsequent Cairns to Moresby race.

Since then, Akarana has been a regular in TYC races with moderate results. Vicki sailed her to third overall in Cruising Division 2 at Magnetic Island Race Week last year, nine years after her father Ian became a divisional winner at the inaugural event.

Over the years Akarana has sustained her share of damages. The shortlist includes five booms, three masts, three motors and two rudders, but the Hamiltons enthusiasm never wanes.  

Vicki and her crew wouldn’t miss Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week for quids.

“It’s a relaxed and fun event and dressing up adds to that feel. We love it. We use the event to also enjoy a holiday. It’s so easy to get to, but like another world. It’s a great way to have an island holiday with your mates. It’s my ‘play up time’ of the year. 

“My kids used to call it ‘Mum’s naughty weekend away,” she adds, laughing. “It’s a week of fun with my crew mates, mostly women – I didn’t plan it that way - it just evolved. They’re very experienced now, capable, so I enjoy pushing them. They gain more confidence that way.”

Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week enjoys the distinction of closing the northern circuit of major sailing events each year. It attracts entries from Australia wide. It is a wonderful way to wind down before heading home or back to work. With divisions for IRC and Performance Racing, Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker Cruising, along with multihulls, this event is growing in stature by reputation.

Director of Townsville Yacht Club, competitor and Event Chairman, Mike Steel, reminds prospective competitors: “Peppers Blue on Blue Resort is offering a 15% discount off the Bed and Breakfast fully serviced price, but the offer is subject to room availability and ends 30 June, 2017, unless sold sooner.

“Bookings must be made direct with the resort by calling 07 47 582 400 and quote ‘Magnetic Island Race Week Early Bird Special’. I urge competitors to book as quickly as possible to avoid disappointment,” Steel said.

Don’t miss this fabulous event. For all information, including social events and information, visit the official website:    

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

Further information: Di Pearson, SLMIRW media manager, phone: 0410 792 131

PRESS RELEASE                                                                              31 January, 2017

First in best dressed for extended 2017 Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week

Event organisers from Townsville Yacht Club have responded positively to pleas for Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week to be extended, so the popular regatta has been stretched to six days in 2017, and to celebrate, Peppers Blue on Blue Resort is offering a substantial discount for those who book early.

As is usual, Race Week will close the northern circuit, following Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island Race Weeks. The new regatta dates for the 11th running of the event are 31 August to 6 September. There is strong indication an increase in numbers from last year’s record fleet is on the cards, as news of the fun regatta has scattered near and far.

Mike Steel, Event Chairman and a director of Townsville Yacht Club said, “Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week is the perfect ending to the northern circuit and we understood competitors’ wishes for an extra day of racing, so have accommodated them.

Steel continued: “We commend Peppers Blue on Blue Resort offering a 15% discount off the Bed and Breakfast fully serviced price, including a welcome drink voucher per person in their popular Boardwalk Bar,” he said of the deal.

This offer is available for 7 x 3 bedroom apartments (up to six people); 3 x Studio Superiors (two people); 5 x Hotel Superiors (2 people), inclusive of 15 rooms with marina views, inclusive of daily hot buffet breakfast, daily housekeeping service and marina view rooms. 

The offer, subject to room availability, ends 30th June 2017, unless sold sooner and must be booked direct, by calling the resort on: 07 47 582 400. Quote ‘Magnetic Island Race Week Early Bird Special’ to receive this special.

“The Notice of Race will be available on line from mid-February and entry will open from 1st March for both monohull and multihull boats,” said Steel, who is a great advertisement for Race Week as a regular with his Dufour 36 ‘Boadicca’.   

In fact Townsville Yacht Club is well represented at Magnetic Island Race Week. Vice Commodore Ian Johnson competes with his multihull Salacia, Rear Commodore Tony Muller with his monohull Brava and Director, Vicki Hamilton with her Akarana, joining their many fellow club members on the water.

The joy of Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week is it is a perfect way to end winter and enter spring in Queensland, not to mention the relaxed fun factor infusing the regatta, where every activity is centred around Peppers Blue on Blue – meaning a two minute walk to everywhere.

The fleet moors at the resort, which features fabulous dining and a bar, while the race start area is a mere five minute motor away. And the course area is nothing short of spectacular, the scenery is special. The ferry between the Island and Townsville is also a two minute walk, as are buses and local shops.  

Adding to the atmosphere of this unique event is those crews who dress in theme, something different each day. It adds to the fun and frivolity of the regatta. However, it is professionally organised and run, with Denis Thompson and his race management team keeping racing on an even keel.  

After racing, you will find competitors ashore at Peppers Blue for a couple drinks and the daily prize giving, hosted by TV personality, Scotty Hillier, before nipping to their rooms to change for the evening entertainment and dinner at the resort. Some opt to cook and entertain friends ‘at home’, or walk/bus to the local restaurants. It couldn’t be simpler.      

For all information, including social events and information on Magnetic Island, visit the official website:    

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

Further information and high res pics: Di Pearson, media manager, phone: 0410 792 131

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