MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                            6 September, 2023

Around the Island Race caps off another magic SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

What a way to finish 2023 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), the stronger breeze everyone has longed for kicked in and because of it, competitors got to do the much anticipated Around the Island Race, bringing an end to the 16th edition of the regatta that holds a special place in competitors’ hearts.

In a salute to the regatta, heading out to the course, a crew member played ‘We are Sailing’ on trumpet from the bow of Capricorn Dancer, while the rest of the crew sang along. There was also music blaring from Celebrity and others.

End results of Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) regatta were riding on today’s final race. In Division 1, half a point separated leader, Victoire (Darryl Hodgkinson, NSW) from Biddy Hui II (Paul Lindemann, Vic) with a further point to Paul Commins’ Carpe Diem (Vic). 

As expected, the improved winds produced different winners and so it was that John Kint’s Bundaberg (Vic) won the race from Smooth Operator, but the Division series went to Biddy Hui II, with Carpe Diem second and Victoire third, with the race drop in place.

“We did it. What a crazy week. It was hard sailing. It was tough to win it,” Lindemann said. “We had a bad Day 1 and slapped ourselves on the wrist. This is our first win here. What a buzz. 

“The start today was a nightmare, everyone was racked up next to the start boat, I had to go around again as I got pushed out of the start. I think what won it was us was sticking close to the island. I think those that went out, got sucked by the current.

“Denis Thompson (PRO) is a magician and such a nice guy. He does an excellent job. He knows what the yachties want,” Lindemann added.

In Division 2, Stephen Green and David Pinches’ Joint Venture (Qld) led Laurie McAllister’s Z7 (NSW) by one point. Stuart Tivey’s Ragamuffin 111 (Qld) was four points further back. Charm Offensive (James Permezel) won the race, but the top three overall remained the same, Ragamuffin placing third overall on countback.  

“We got our nose in front, we can’t complain,” Green said after sailing in 5-11 knots today. “The best wind of the race. The sight of all the spinnakers behind us coming around the other side of the island was a real spectacle.

“We had a consistent week and got rewarded for it. We’ve enjoyed the whole week, not just the racing. We didn’t even know who’d won or placed till we saw the results. It was that close. We’ll be back next year, it’s very relaxed.”

Division 3 was led by Mike Steel’s Boadicca, by five points to last year’s division winner, Brava (Tony and Selena Muller) and six points to Russell McLaughlin’s Freya. All three are from the host club and the former two are Vice Commodore and Rear Commodore of TYC respectively.

Tim Ford’s Seascape (Vic) won the race, but the series went to Boadicca from Brava and Helena May (Lyndy Sawbridge). The top three represent the host club. 

“We’ve been doing this series for the entire 16 years and never won it,” an elated Steel said. “Today was a pleasant breeze, the boat was powered up and the crew worked well, because we knew we had to do that to win. 

“My crew is mainly regulars, but we also had Oli (David Oliver, a past Sydney Hobart winner and the official merchandise supplier at the event) aboard. I was going to take the boat back to Townsville at 4.30pm today, but Oli offered to take it back so I can celebrate.”  

Tim Campbell (Private Equity, Vic) went into the day with a large 11-point Division 4 lead having not strayed outside top three places throughout, Craig Picinelli’s Wobbly Boot (Qld) the only one that could realistically beat him.

Geoff Ingram’s Capricorn Dancer (Qld) won the race. However, as expected, Private Equity won the series - by 10 points - from Jack Maguire’s Zen and Peter Webster’s Son of a Son, both of which represent the host club. 

Campbell won in 2019, so this is a second win. “It’s good to have a win here. We did really well, we stayed consistent. We love the light conditions and the courses. We had the right team. A lot of us sail reasonably regularly together in Melbourne. Bill Lennon the tactician and I have sailed together over 20 years.

“The boat really loves 8 knots to windward and we used our masthead kite a bit, so the conditions really did suit us,” said Campbell, who added he had already taken the mast out of the boat at Crosshaven Marine, ready to tow the boat back to Melbourne tomorrow.

The Non-Spinnaker division was won by Emma Kate, owned by locals Lisa and Robert Fogerty, whose life story is appearing in the Townsville Bulletin – Part 1 was in today’s paper. The married couple did not have their best race today, but their other scores gave them the win on countback to Thylacine One (Glenn Myler, Tas). Vic Stevens’ Macushla (Qld) won today’s race.

“The week has been quite amazing. We had a sensational crew – we started the week with no crew, so made a callout and we are very grateful. There was a lot of experience and listening on board,” said Lisa, explaining this is their last with the boat they are selling.

“Our normal crew all had work commitments, so we thought we’d have to pull out. We didn’t know any of our crew until the morning of the first race. We are extremely grateful. Our Emma Kate handled everything well.”


William Richards’ Kay Cee (Qld) led Division 1, but it was anyone’s as the pointscore was that close. And the winner is…. Gordon Beath’s Roamance, which came back with a win today. John Brand’s Alba Dash (Qld) took second and Kay Cee was relegated to third.

“As I mentioned the other day, I have three lovely ladies aboard, including my sister. They did not make a mistake. We started, got round the first buoy first, put up our screecher and pulled away. We won the regatta and I feel so pleased for my crew. We left all the gear on board, as we just came to enjoy.

“This is the second time I’ve been here with Roamance and it might be the last for a while, as we are going out of the country to race and cruise. We are all so happy to win,” Beath said.

Division 2 was similar. Kevin Lord’s Vivacious (NSW) was a touch in front of Ken Plowman’s Red Undies, Max Billing’s Twin Spirit (Qld) and Ian Johnson’s Salacia from TYC. 

Salacia won after taking today’s race out. Three others finished on equal points one point behind Salacia: “I can’t believe it, I’m still a bit stunned,” Johnson said. I had a shocker yesterday, but we won today. Today suited us. More breeze. It’s been great. We really enjoyed it. As usual it’s been a great regatta.”

Sports Boats

It came down to the wire in the Sports Boats. The local Bambalam (Justin Van Stom) led the M24 Panther (Stephen O’Rourke, NSW) on countback. No Mercy (Burke Melia, NSW) and Cutting Edge (Andrew Jones, Qld) were breathing down their necks.

Bambalam won the series on countback to No Mercy, with M24 Panther taking third: “It was tough today, but we didn’t lose concentration and we got there. It always feels really good to win. An achievement. Through the week there was two, three and four of us. Today I had my 17 year-old son, Hugo aboard.

“I also had Jessie Goodheart aboard (she lost her rig here last year) and Aleisha McMillan. The competition was great and everyone in the division were good people, including some of my heroes, like Julian Bethwaite,” ended Van Stom, the local Townsville boat broker.

TYC can be proud of yet another magic event, even if winds were mainly light, which put a lot of pressure on Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson and his experienced team. 

“It has been quite stressful,” Thompson confessed. “Chasing the breeze every day, making sure the people got to race and finish. Changing courses and adapting the races to suit each division was difficult. Our volunteer team worked very well. They knew exactly what I needed and what I was going to do every day – and they did their jobs,” said.

Like everyone else, Thompson said he was pleased to see a decent breeze this morning. “It was great to look out and see sheep in the paddock, which meant we could do the Around the Island Race. It’s the race everyone had been waiting for.

“This is a great regatta and it’s especially good to see so many interstaters here. They made up around 60 percent of entries, which bodes well for next year. We’ll see if we can beat the 16 minute sell-out of last year,” he ended.

The final word goes to SMIRWs enduring Event Chairman, TYC Vice Commodore and competitor, Mike Steel, who with his team works tirelessly to ensure the smooth running of the regatta and to make sure everyone has a good time. “It’s been superb,” he said, unable to believe the week had gone so quickly.

“It’s been a bit soft (the wind), but at least it hasn’t bee howling with wind in the afternoon, so everyone could enjoy the deck experience at Peppers Race Headquarters. The Around the Island Race is our classic and everyone had been waiting for it and fortunately we delivered it on the final day!

“Our competitors make the week the great event it is, so for management and committee members, they have made the job easy for us. I want to thank our Event Manager Jodie Kennedy, our sponsors who help make the event what it is and our volunteers. We could not do this without you,” Steel said.

“Book your accommodation for next year now and be ready on 1 March 2024 at 10am Queensland time to click on the entry button – and remember your Top Yacht password!

 “Thank you all for taking part in SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week. We hope everyone enjoyed themselves. We look forward to welcoming you again next year,” Steel ended.

For all information including results, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                            5 September, 2023

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Breeze picks up and spirits lift

Another hard one for Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson and his team at 2023 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), as light fluky airs necessitated three course changes from Around the Island to a race to White Rock and a further change to a course taking in Picnic Bay, Middle Reef and Cleveland Bay, for Lowes Petroleum Race Day.

Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) annual event has been plagued by light airs since it started last Friday, but Thompson has managed to get races in each and every day, a credit to him and his experienced team. Those participating are happy just to be able to race. The beautiful surrounds and the ease of Peppers Blue on Blue, it’s restaurant and marina, only add to the allure of SMIRW. However, most would dearly love more breeze.

The bulk of the fleet started in a 5 knot breeze and it died in places thereafter. However, further down the track, the speed dial hit 8 and then 10 knots, pushing and pulling the yachts, multihulls and sports boats along nicely - spinnakers billowing in the fresher breeze – the bay a mass of colour.

Division 2

Stephen Green and David Pinches’ J122, Joint Venture (Qld), won Division 2 from Laurie McAllister’s Beneteau First 45, Z7 (NSW).  It was on all day. It means Joint Venture now leads the series by one point from Z7, with a day of racing remaining.

“It’s all riding on tomorrow,” Green conceded at Peppers Race Headquarters this afternoon.

Talking about today’s weather, Green said, “The pressure came in, but it depends where you were in the bay. It maintained for us. It was a nice sail, provided you picked the shifts. It got down to 3 knots in a couple of spots. Mostly it was 7 to 10 knots.

“Everyone on board (seven of them) enjoyed it. It’s a very competitive division – we found the clear air and got away well and kept going. It all.”

Green was not exaggerating. Half the division left the start line at the same time, bang on time.


An ex-local boat, the Beneteau Oceanis 45 Champagne, won Non-Spinnaker Division today. Now owned by Chris Haskard and David Elliott from NSW, they beat Glenn Myler’s Thylacine One, a Beneteau Oceanis 43 from Tasmania. The two were over three minutes apart when the handicaps were put in place. Joe Niven’s Beneteau Oceanis 34 Daylight was third.

Sports Boats

Scott Creedon’s Mustard Cutter had the goods today. The Thompson 750 from Tasmania arrived here after competing at Airlie Beach Race Week where he finished second in division at the Trailable Yachts & Sports Boats Qld Championship. Fellow Tassie, Andrew Jones’ Thompson 8, Cutting Edge (Tas), was second.  Series leader and local boat, Bambalam, Justin Van Stomm’s VX One was third.

Van Stomm leads the series on countback to Stephen O’Rourke’s M24 Panther (NSW). There are others in the picture; Burke Melia’s No Mercy (NSW) and Cutting Edge are just one and two points respectively behind, so all hinges on tomorrow’s final race.

“Win or lose time tomorrow,” Van Stomm admitted.

On how they have kept on top, he said with a smile: “Diabolical cunning, old age and treachery and a sprinkle of local knowledge. Actually, we’ve been working hard. And the handicapper has stayed kind.

“We are the smallest boat in the division. We keep pushing and chasing the big boats down in front of us. Some of the best sailors on the planet are here, so we feel humbled. Tonight I’m going to eat, sleep and have another crack at it tomorrow,” the local boat broker ended.

Tonight’s entertainment is Tess Latu on the deck at Peppers Race Headquarters from 6pm.

The final race at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week will be held tomorrow 11am – weather permitting – and will decide the outcome across the seven divisions.

For all information including results, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                            4 September, 2023

 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Steady light wind produces new winners 

It was back to business for ‘It’s Live in Queensland Race Day’ out on the Bay for the 16th running of SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW on another light breeze day, but at least it filled in at a steady pace so the fleet could get away from 11.35am and it produced new winners.

Division 2 was first to start in the Townsville Yacht Club (TYC) hosted event today. Amaya II (Ben Kingsberry, Qld) and Z7 (Laurie McAllister, NSW) best away at the pin end. By the top mark though, Peter Sorensen and crew had cleared out on Sorro’s Sydney 38, Advanced Philosophy (NSW), Z7 giving chase a good two minutes behind. Z7 went on to win.

Behind them, Division 3 was next away. Crescendo (Richard Gilhome, Vic) Helena May (Lyndy Sawbridge, Qld) and Ca Va (Phil Dressler, NSW) got off the pin smartly. Next was Division 4, as two TYC locals Son of a Son (Peter Webster) and Akarana (Vicki Hamilton) were best away. In the Non-Spinnaker Division, Glenn Myler’s Thylacine One left the rest behind her.

In Multihull Division 1, Dennis Coleman made the most of Mistress’ (Qld) light hull to leave the rest behind to fight it out, while Division 2 was led by Kevin Lord’s Vivacious (Qld).

By the time the race ended though, Gordon Beath’s Chamberlin 14, Roamance, got the better of Mistress by just short of nine minutes in Multihull Division 1 – a big win.

Beath, who is suffering from a terrible flu, gets up just to steer the boat: “My sister Sally is aboard; it’s her first time here. She’s a doctor and is looking after me. The other two ladies are from Townsville. They sailed with me here last year and at (Festival of Sails) Geelong, which we won. We also won the Brisbane to Gladstone together.”  

Beath is from NSW but spends most his time cruising and racing the boat at Aussie events. Next year he will disappear off the radar to contest the Groupama Race around New Caledonia. At Maggie Island, he says, “There are three wonderful ladies and me racing the boat. We had such a good day, it just got better and better, so it’s a bonus to win.”

“I get told what to do all day, ‘Hold it here Gordon, sail her square Gordon, do this, do that Gordon,” he said laughing.

In Multi Division 2, it was Ian Johnson’s local Lightwave 38, Salacia, came out on top by 2 minutes. Mal Billings’ Perry 43, Twin Spirit from Victoria was second and Rod Sweeney’s Rhomberg Sersa Australia (Qld) in third.

“We were very surprised to see we’d won. We’ve got a few first time sailors from down south and they loved it,” Johnson said.

 “We had three guys sailing the boat, the other four crew were down making really good sandwiches for lunch - and it seemed to work,” he said laughing.

 On a more serious note, the Townsville yachtsman added, “On the way up we put the big screecher up. If we hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t have had enough boat speed.

 “At the end of the day, the weather is so beautiful, it doesn't matter where you come. We don’t really sail to win, but it’s nice to have one.”


Spinnaker Division 1 was next, with Victoire (Darryl Hodgkinson, NSW) and Ocean Crusaders J-Bird (Annika Thomson, Qld) fighting for supremacy off the pin end. Victoire, a Carkeek 40, got the best of her TP52 rival as they headed up to the first mark of the course. Victoire sailed with purpose and won Race 3, her second successive win to lead the series.

 Hodgkinson commented, “We’re having a good regatta. We’ve had a pretty good tussle with Ocean Crusaders, which is good fun, it’s great to have a good boat to compete against.”

On today’s race he said, “It was 5-7 knots and we were with them (Ocean Crusaders) for a time and then we split. We hugged close to shore and concentrated pretty hard and got away from them.”

Hodgkinson, a recently retired plastic surgeon, had a hip replacement eight weeks ago and this is his first time back in the saddle, so to speak.

“It’s going well. I’m doing everything the surgeon told me to, but I was adamant I was coming to race at Magnetic Island. We’re really enjoying it. We were sailing with seven people, but one of my old crew came up today, so we have eight now, which is easier.” 

The Sports Boats were sent on two shorter races. Andrew Jones’ Thompson 8, Cutting Edge (Tas) and Stephen O’Rourke’s Melges 24, M24 Panther (NSW) enjoyed a good stoush at the start of their first race.  It was won by Justin Van Stomm’s Bambalam from TYC from M24 Panther.

Race 4 went to Julian Bethwaite’s Don’t Panic (NSW) entered by Rob Reynolds. Burke Melia’s No Mercy (NSW) was second with the well-sailed M24 Panther third, giving her the series lead by one point to No Mercy.

Tonight, while crews head to the Crew Party at Maggie Island Brewery, Townsville Yacht Club will host the Sponsors and Skippers Evening at the Club via a SeaLink ferry ride from Peppers Race Headquarters to Townsville.

Racing resumes tomorrow from 11am with Lowes Petroleum Race Day, on a course that takes the fleet around Magnetic Island.

For all information including results, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                            2 September, 2023

Focus and determination a prerequisite at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 

A fondness for extremely light testing conditions, focus and determination were qualities that were needed in spades on Townsville City Council race day, the second day of 2023 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW); race officials monitored the weather for two hours before racing got away at 1pm on flat water, the sun out in full force again over a blue sky. 

The wind and tide gods must have been laughing their heads off in unison at those taking part in Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) much anticipated annual event. The fleet milled around for two hours with mains up only, waiting, waiting, while the tide took control near the start. A handful of lighter boats, sports and multihulls, found enough pressure to set spinnakers and have a run or two on the bay, just to whet the appetite – or was it just in case?

Finally, Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson, was able to start the fleet off Peppers Race Headquarters. The tide took control of Division 1 entry, Victoire, a novel sideways slew to the start line, but at least she wasn’t over early in the 8 knot breeze. As divisions started behind them. Individual recalls were heard in various divisions.

Down the run, many struggled to keep their bows pointed in the right direction and to fly their kites, gybes were requisite for a number, as the breeze was all over the shop. The lightweight boats made the most of their size and weight, mainly sports boats and a couple of multihulls, such as Mistress.

Boadicca scored a big win in Division 3 today. Owner, Mike Steel, is the Event Chairman and Vice Commodore of Townsville Yacht Club, so has that thing called local knowledge. The Dufour 36 Performance design beat another local, Russell McLaughlin’s Freya, by just shy of eight minutes when the handicaps were in place. Tim Ford’s Seascape (Vic) was a further 10 minutes behind in third place – such were the conditions. 

“We had every sail on the deck at the start; spinnaker, Code Zero and the jib hanked on because we didn’t know what was going to happen with the breeze. I had my foredecky change the kite four times it was so iffy.”

On winning, Steel said laughing, “We were just lucky.” He described their race thus: “It was interesting start. We were near the pin and decided we’d start on port tack. There was one boat still above us though, Hotel, but we sailed away from them. It was an interesting course too, a windward/leeward.  We tacked into Florence Bay, and I think that won the day for us. 

“We sailed through a lot of Division 2 boats. They were starboard rounding while our division and Division 4 had a port rounding at the same mark. It was definitely challenging,” Steel admitted. 

“We set the kite (at the top mark) and seemed to clear out. There was a pack of yachts behind us, so they would have caused each other problems, while we were on our own in clear air.”

Steel said of the run to the finish, “Working the spinnaker, we were constantly pole forward, pole back, pole forward. Near the finish we were headed and went prawning with the kite. Fifty metres off, we had to get the heady up to cross the finish line."

Division 4’s race on the same course was just as interesting, except the top two places went to Victorian boats. Andrew Clark’s Adams 10, Single Malt (Vic) took the gun from Tim Campbell’s Corby 25, Private Equity, which has become a regular at SMIRW. There was six minutes between the pair and a further two minutes to third placed Vaya Con Dios, a Farr 1104 owned by local, Wayne Simonsen.

Clark described Single Malt’s start: “The start line was chaos. We were going in the opposite direction to the one we were supposed to! It was like a washing machine with the breeze swinging 360 degrees. 

“It was all about attrition and concentration and weight distribution on the boat and changing gears. Everyone spent just about the whole race to leeward. You had to keep changing gears all the time, judging where to put the boat. “

Having said that, Clark went on to admit, “We loved this race. We were all calm on board. We knew what we had to do and just did our thing. We have crew from Melbourne, different yacht clubs though and from Darwin. We don’t normally sail together, we’re not a proper team, we’re just together for this event.”  

The Victorian yachtsmen added, “The race management of this event is second to none and Magnetic Island is the best. The people from Townville Yacht Club and Peppers just make this the best regatta.”

Tomorrow is lay day for Townsville Airport Father’s Day at Picnic Day. Celebrations will be varied and fun where there will be anything from the markets to free kids’ activities, food stalls, a sandcastle competition, Arcadian Surf Club’s ‘The Great Inflatable Race’, fundraising barbecue, mud crab races and entertainment from Godfathers of Funk. 

Racing resumes from 11am on Monday.

For all information including results, please visit:     

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                31 August, 2023

Easing into racing on a light day glamour at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 

The opening day of 2023 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) was an absolute glamour, if you were thinking of a picnic or going to the beach, but as Denis Thompson predicted, a light breeze did fill in and patience was rewarded when racing started at 12.35pm.

Division 1 was first away in the 16th running of Townsville Yacht Club’s regatta. Just after the start, the breeze looked like it would drop out completely, but there was just enough there to carry on. Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire (NSW) and the Annika Thomson skippered Ocean Crusaders J-Bird (Qld) were best away.

Ten minutes of frustratingly light air took every bit of patience and control, as skippers could see the breeze further up the course. Victoire, a Carkeek 40, was the first to catch it and took off like a scalded cat, with the TP52, Ocean Crusaders, hot on her heels in a lovely 10 knots. It didn’t last though, dropping to around 5-7 knots as those behind them gave chase.

Ocean Crusaders was first to the top mark and chose the left of the course for the spinnaker run back down the bay and did not look back. Victoire gybed and went down the centre. Behind them, the rest were playing catch up.

Both Operator (Charles Weatherly) did not have a smooth time. The big pink kite (matching the crew shirts) refused to budge from its sock. At the pointy end, Morgan Staley and others wrestled with it and out she came!

In the end, Paul Commins’ Beneteau First 50, Carpe Diem (Vic) lived up to her name and seized the day to win Division 1 from Ocean Crusaders, which sailed well all race. Peter Lowndes Wine Dark Sea, a Lyons 49 from NSW, took third place. Later this year, Lowndes will sail the yacht two-handed in the Rolex Sydney Hobart.

Both Wine Dark Sea and Kayimai (Peter Byford and Rob Aldis’ Azuree 46 from NSW) came home with pace on downwind, Kayimai settling for fourth place.

Paul Commins and crew, including his wife Helen, were aboard Carpe Diem after the race celebrating their victory. “She loved the race and won the lotto guessing how we would finish,” Commins said.

“We brought the boat up from Melbourne in April. We hadn’t sailed it until we did Hamilton Island Race Week, which was a big contrast to today. It was very windy there. We took the boat out for a training run yesterday in light air to practice our spinnaker work and it paid off today,” Commins said.

On the race, the Victorian sailor said, “We could see the breeze there (up the course heading to the first mark) and said, ‘Let’s be patient’. We’re waiting and waiting, but knew it was going to come eventually. We tried to keep the boat moving and stayed away from other boats, then off we went. It was a lot of fun.”

Carpe Diem is crewed by family and friends from Melbourne. “We have 17 people here, 12 on the boat racing. We’re loving Magnetic Island. We’re having lots of fun. We’ve already booked Father’s Day dinner (Sunday).  We’re here to race and to have fun.” Commins ended.

As each successive division started, there were plenty of individual recalls. No names, no pack drill, they know who they are.

The day was light, but it’s a nice way to ease into the first day of a regatta. If you were going to make mistakes, today was the day with the conditions so forgiving. There are quite a few crews here who have not sailed together before and others who are not sailing with their usual full contingent. It’s difficult to take time off to take on the entire northern circuit of regattas.

Annika Thomson was just as pleased with her and husband Ian’s day. They took Division 1 line honours and placed second overall.

“We had two tacticians onboard and they agreed; stay close to shore after the start and it worked. We had good speed on Victoire - and this is the first time we have all raced together,” Thomson said.

“The crew are from NSW and Queensland, including seven women. Ian (her husband and co-owner in the boat) did tactics and bow. It all went like clockwork. We didn’t leave anything on the race course,” she said.

Ocean Crusaders J-Bird is the first electric boat to sail at SMIRW. The boat is powered by solar, wind and wind generation – a one of a kind on the racing circuit in Australia.

For all information including results, please visit:


By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                31 August, 2023

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Opening night celebrated – racers ready to go!

A weak breeze confronted competitors and race officials on the opening day of the 2023 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), but it did not faze most, who felt lucky to be at this Northern Queensland regatta at all – entries were sold out within 13 minutes of opening – a record unlikely to be broken by any other major regatta Australia wide.

Principal Race Officer for the for the Townsville Yacht Club (TYC) organised event, Denis Thompson and his crew were left with a conundrum regarding start time. Originally set down for 11am, it was not to be, the fickle wind not suitable. However, Thompson was hopeful that a 5 knot breeze would get the fleet of monohulls, sports boats and multihulls away around 12.30pm.

“I think the weak north-westerly will go north and then north-east in the afternoon. We’re thinking -10 knots, enough to get a race in,” Thompson said.

However, the crews celebrated opening night in style last evening at Peppers Race Headquarters and this morning did not go to waste. Competitors enjoyed a lazy breakfast at, others caught up with mates, or took a swim at Peppers and checked out the official race apparel from Musto. CEO, David Oliver, is on hand to look after everyone’s needs as he always does at SMIRW.

The shop is open in the morning before racing and two hours after racing. Shorts have been the fastest seller, so patrons are warned, ‘don’t miss out’.

Also in the range this year is gear designed by artificial intelligence – a world first for sailing gear. The shirts feature a slogan on the back: ‘A great skipper knows how to delegate blame’. They too, are selling quickly. Not surprising…

Between his ‘pop-up’ shop hours, ‘Oli’ is racing on Boadicca, the Dufour 36 Performance yacht owned by Event Chairman and TYC Vice Commodore, Mike Steel. They are racing in Spinnaker Division 3 alongside others, including last year’s winner and TYC stablemate, Brava, Tony and Selena Muller’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409.

Oliver is not deck jewellery by any means. Steel is happy to have the yachtie with serious sailing cred to his name aboard. Apart from other wins, Oliver crewed the victorious 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart winner, Victoire. Owner, Darryl Hodgkinson, is also at SMIRW with his latest Victoire, a Carkeek 40 that has also achieved the notable results ‘Doctor Darryl’ strives for.

While competitors are on the water today, ashore there is Rachelle’s Liptember Long Lunch, with entertainment from Tess Latu at Peppers Boardwalk Restaurant. This event is sold out.

Tonight’s entertainment, following the daily prize giving at Peppers Race Headquarters, an event in itself with TV personality Scotty Hillier hosting, features the band ‘Shots Fired’.

A mix of boats from monohull racers, cruisers, sports boats to multihulls from around Australia is taking part in SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week in 2023.

For all information including results, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                 1 August, 2023

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Onshore program will whet competitors’ appetites

Sold out the same day entries opened, organisers from Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) are not resting on their laurels – they have worked hard on both the racing component and onshore entertainment program, with something to suit all competitors and their entourages.

The social program for the 16th running of the regatta, taking place from 31 August to 6 September 2023, “Has something for everyone,” says SMIRW Event Chairman and competitor, Mike Steel. “We try to put together a week of social events that cater to competitors, their family and friends ashore, their kids and visitors to the Island on Father’s Day. We want everyone to have a good time.”

The opener is Yachties’ Hour at the Peppers Race Headquarters deck on Thursday 31 August, followed by entertainment from the band Tiny Giants.

Friday, while competitors are on the water, those ashore can enjoy Rachelle’s Liptember Long Lunch, with entertainment from Tess Latu at Peppers Boardwalk Restaurant. This event is almost sold out.

Every evening after each race day is Yachties Hour followed by entertainment that will have the dance floor jumping on the Peppers Race Headquarters deck.

Sunday is Townsville Airport Father’s Day at Picnic Bay as yachties enjoy lay day. It is a day of fun with markets, free kids’ activities, food stalls, a sand castle competition and Arcadia Surf Club’s Great Inflatable Race. So popular last year, it returns with vigour again this year, large group of spectators and all!

There is also the Beach Retreat, brought to you by TYC and held at Picnic Bay Surf Lifesaving Club, including a fund raising BBQ, a licensed bar and the Godfathers of Funk rocking the afternoon. And then there are the fun Mud Crab Races mid-afternoon.

Father’s Day is a big occasion, with people arriving from Townsville by the SeaLink ferry load, joining in with the yachties for this special day out. Between 9am-5pm free shuttle buses will be provided by Port of Townsville on this special day.

Yachties Hour, to take place during the daily prize giving, is held at Peppers Race Headquarters, where party time ensues afterwards, so the atmosphere at the resort and aboard boats before after sailing is unprecedented. And on the final night, all the action takes place there again with the Presentation, buffet dinner and Cranky Pants will have all on the dance floor.

A mix of boats from monohull racers, cruisers, sports boats to multihulls from around Australia will take part in SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week in 2023.

For all information and to follow SMIRW, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                             22 February, 2023

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 2023 - entry opens in one week

Entry for Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 2023 will open in one week’s time at 10am (Queensland time) on 1 March – so if you want to be there, you will need to be fast on the button; within 15 minutes of entries opening last year, the event was at 50 percent capacity and less than four hours later, was a complete sell-out.

As Event Chairman, Mike Steel said at the time, “It was an unprecedented response for any major Australian sailing event and we had a similar experience in 2021, when we were at capacity within a few days of entry opening.”

Steel and his fellow organisers at TYC were thrilled with the response at the time and Steel says, “Judging by enquiries already received in the last couple of weeks, I think we’re in for a similar result, so I implore all those interested to enter as quickly as they can. We don’t like to see anyone miss out, but we are restricted by the berthing availability at the Island.”

“It’s a beautiful Island in a beautiful part of the world and I think SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week offers something a little different to all other regattas,” Steel said, rationalising the ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ sell-out.

This year marks the 16th running of SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, to be held from 31 August to 6 September 2023.

Success of the week-long event can be attributed to many factors. Everything from the proximity of the ferry terminal to Peppers Blue on Blue Resort, local supermarket, bottle shop and restaurants – they are just minutes apart

Those staying at the beautifully appointed rooms and apartments at Peppers will also find themselves a minute’s walk to breakfast, pools, barbecue area and the marina – with a five minute motor to the start area for racing!

Add to that the warm welcome you receive from Townsville Yacht Club organisers. It is a very social event and the racing is made interesting, with courses set and laid by Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson and his team.

The daily prize giving is also held at Peppers Race Headquarters where party time ensues afterwards, so the atmosphere at the resort and aboard boats before after sailing is unprecedented

It is a unique regatta - and its uniqueness is what everyone loves.

In the worlds of money guru, Paul Clitheroe attending for the first time in 2018 with his TP52, Balance: “Quite a few people told me I was missing something special – Darryl Hodgkinson, Bob Steel and others – so Magnetic Island here we come.”

Clitheroe added at the end of the event: “An unforgettable regatta. There were people here I sail against at home (Sydney) that I’ve never really got to know until I came here. The whole set-up and socialness allow that to happen here (Magnetic Island).”

David Fuller, who brought his Corby 49, Vamp, to the event from Sydney for the first time: “I love it here – it’s been a very pleasant surprise. I’m so glad I’ve done it,” he said with a big smile.

A mix of boats from monohull racers, cruisers, sports boats to multihulls are expected to take part from Australian ports.

For entry and Notice of Race, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                            7 September, 2022

From fast racer to comfy cruiser at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

Darren Drew normally arrives from NSW to the northern regatta circuit with one of Australia’s fastest ocean racing catamarans, his Crowther 50 catamaran Top Gun, but this time he surprised contemporaries by turning up at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) with Wind Cheetah, a smaller and heavier 1992 launched Arber Southeaster 38 cruising cat.

Wind Cheetah is a far cry from Top Gun, a much larger boat that sails at high speeds. Drew confirmed at Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) regatta at ‘Maggie’ Island that he has been cruising the former since the 1st of April.

“My wife, a mate, his wife and a friend decided to do Airlie Beach and Magnetic Island Race Weeks with Wind Cheetah. For me, it’s about keeping my wife on the boat and her being happy. I don’t want to see the day when she doesn’t want to sail anymore because of the boat,” said the multi fanatic from Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club who is a regular on the northern circuit and elsewhere.

Drew says Wind Cheetah “was old and daggy when we got her. I put a new two metre taller rig on her, new carbon sails, replaced the deck hardware, repainted and gave her new electronics and plumbing.”

The multi looks brand new. “I love the history of her and she’s very comfortable, where Top Gun isn’t, it’s a full-on racing boat,” he says.

“Wind Cheetah won two Brisbane to Gladstone races on OMR (multihull rating category) during the nineties, but she’s been in cruising mode for the past 20 years and we’re cruising the East Coast until the end of 2022, with a couple of regattas thrown in.”

Next stop after SMIRW is Lizard Island and Wind Cheetah and her passengers will eventually return home in November.

“That’s when I’ll grab Top Gun and going racing again,” Drew comments.

In the meantime, the cat’s crew are enjoying SMIRW immensely. “It’s fantastic. A great fun regatta. The marina and everything you need is right here (at Peppers Blue on Blue Resort).

“Yesterday we went to pull the main up, but the boat has a tricky headboard and the halyard jammed. We had to come back to the marina (a five minute motor from the start line) and fix it. We were only two minutes late for the start. That’s how close things are here.”

They finished fourth and in all probability it cost them a podium place. Coming into today’s final race, Drew is sitting in third place overall on countback to second placed Scamper (Adrian Lawrie) from Queensland and one point behind the leader, Roamance (Gordon Beath) from NSW after placing second in all other races.

“Monday was different,” the sailor says. “It was the most perfect day – we sailed the boat perfectly and loved every minute of it. It’s a great regatta to come to…”

Racing concludes today, with racing to start from 11am.

For all information, including full results and more, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                            6 September, 2022

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Big winds return for Round the Island Race

Competitors were rubbing their hands with glee as a decent breeze returned in time for the famed Lowes Petroleum Race Day Round the Island Race at Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW).

SeaLink Spinnaker Divisions 1 and 2 sailed a slightly longer course with a leg out of the western side of the island.

SeaLink Spinnaker Division 2 was first off, sailing to the shore before tacking out, to lay a mark, before continuing on their journey anti-clockwise around the island. Once again, John Kint’s Bundaberg (Vic) hit the line as the hooter went. Brian Yarnall’s Mika (Vic), Doug Ryan’s Shazam (Qld) and Stuart Tivey’s Ragamuffin 111 from TYC, also got away quickly.

La Troisieme Mitemps (Matt Doyle, NSW) won the day. Mika and Ragamuffin 111 took the minor placings. Going into the final day, Rob Rainsford’s Y Knot (Vic) leads the division from Victorians; James Permezel’s Charm Offensive and John Kint’s Bundaberg, which has been nailing the starts.

Bundaberg’s Geoffrey Montgomery has had a role in that: “My job is to make sure we go around the right marks in the right order. We did our prep properly for the start. Checking the line, we saw the pin end was advantaged, so picked that end. We took a few sterns and that strategy worked. We had clear air and gassed out all but one of the other boats,” he explained.

“We saw as much as 19 knots on the course and clocked up 13.2 knots of boat speed under spinnaker. It was a great race. The funnest bit was working up from Bay Rock to Middle Reef. We picked a good lift off the shore near Picnic Bay.”

Kint, a past Commodore of Royal Geelong Yacht Club, added with a big smile, “We’re having a really good run.”

When Division 3 started, most congregated at the favoured boat end of the line. Bob and Shaz Colman’s Red Knot, all the way from the Northern Territory, dared to be different. Starting at the pin end paid dividends, as they sailed away in clear air, but it was Tony and Selena Muller’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409, Brava, that came away with the victory.

Muller is Rear Commodore at TYC and is the series leader in Division 3 on countback with David Pollak’s Belle (Qld). Breathing down their necks are Rob Reynolds Fareast 28R, the Kingsberry brothers Amaya II and Mark Skelton’s Jab. The trio is a point adrift of the top two.

By the time Division 4’s start came around, local sailor, James Finch and Warragal were ready, with another local, Amaya II (Ben and Matt Kingsberry), hot on her heels.

Regular competitor and local sailor Lyndy Sawbridge won the race. The honour of winning the series in that division is likely to go to Ian Griffiths Witchy Woman (Qld) or TYC Commodore John Stokes (Mach 1). Zen or Son of a Son could spoil the party though.

Sawbridge was nevertheless delighted with her win: “This was Helena May’s weather. She loves a bit of breeze, kicks up her heels and off she goes. The crew did a great job putting her through her paces. We shredded a spinnaker, so it was up with the next one!

“We had a great day and we’ve had a great week. We’re just loving it as usual,” said the gregarious local, who has done eight SMIRW’s on Helena May. “At least one of us (Chris Sawbridge – her husband who is aboard) has done every Race Week – if not both of us.”

“The race committee and volunteers have done a wonderful job as usual,” Sawbridge ended.

In the Non-Spinnaker division, before she could reach the first mark of the course, Jessie Goodheart’s Godspeed snapped her rig. All on board were fine. This followed her broken forestay in the Bay Race. This is Goodheart’s maiden SMIRW as an owner skipper and her crew are ‘green’ - novices.

Goodheart came here with the intention of having fun and making some memories. I doubt these were the memories she had in mind, but we hope she returns next year, as they appeared to be a fun-loving crew.

The division win went the way of Scott Parry’s local Phantom 32, Sinbad. Rod Wills’ Great Xpectations (NSW) leads the series by one point over Noel Borel’s Kulani. Adrian Wilson’s Kulahea from Western Australia is a further point away having placed second this afternoon.

The two Multihull division were away cleanly. Adrian Lawrie’s Scamper (Qld), a Schionning 15.2, won the day in Division 1 from Graeme Etherton’s local regular entry, The Boat. Scamper is now in the running to take out the series, sitting pretty just a point shy of the leader, Gordon Beath’s Roamance and on equal points with Darren Drew’s Wind Cheetah, both from NSW.

Multihull Division 2 went to the Ian Johnson skippered Salacia, a Lightwave 38 from the host club. It puts him a mere point behind series leader, Happy Hours (Gary Prestedge, Vic) and one in front of his friend, Ken Plowman and his Red Undies (NSW). I’m not sure about the undies, nobody is disclosing, but the crew does wear red hats.

“We’re happy with our win,” Johnson said. “We have terrific racing with Red Undies; we’re never more than 100 metres apart. It was A lovely day for the Round the Island Race, 20 knots, maybe more at times and you get  a reach, a tight reach, a run and a work.

“I’ve done every Race Week so far. We moved to the Island in 2007. I don’t own the boat; it belongs to Owen Day. He’s in his eighties, still sailing on the boat, pulls his weight and just loves it. Owen was pleased as anything to win. His daughter Emma is up from Melbourne sailing with us and his grandson-in-law, Steve, was sailing with us until today,” said Johnson, who is on SMIRW organising committee.    

Division 1 was called to start at midday. Andy Kearnan/Peter Wrigley’s Koa (NSW), with Kearnan at the helm, was again quick off the mark, as was the Adrian Kiely skippered Mako (NSW), The ‘League of Nations’ on Kayimai was soon up and amongst the action too.

Rob Aldis/Peter Byford’s Kayimai is from Middle Harbour Yacht Club in Sydney, where Aldis is the new Commodore. On board is a mix of French, Irish, Swedish, English and a Kiwi among the Aussies. “We spoke a mix of Irish/Swedish today,” Aldis quipped.

Division 1 victory went to David Newton’s YKnot, a Dehler 46 (NSW), from Stephen Green’s Joint Venture (Qld) and John Chipp’s Hot Chipps (Vic). However, it’s Mako, the Sydney 40, that leads the series going into the final day. Two other NSW boats are breathing down Mako’s stern: Kayimai and Ian Edwards’ Wings, on equal points and two points away.

Racing concludes tomorrow, with racing to start from 11am.

For all information, including list of entries, places to visit and more, please visit:     

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                            5 September, 2022

Light air presents new winners at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

A light air day at Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) and although the sun was out and the breeze was light, there was a distinct chill in the air, particularly sailing upwind.

Division 1 contested two long windward/leeward races, starting off Peppers Blue on Blue to a mark at Cleveland Bay. The rest of the fleet were on a course that mainly hugged the eastern side and part of the northern side of the island, with some divisions initially taking a leg out to a mark on the bay.

In Race 3, Stephen Green kept his bow clean in SeaLink Spinnaker Division 1 to claim the spoils with his J122, Joint Venture (Qld), by four minutes. The Adrian Kiely skippered Mako from Newcastle placed second, with Ian Edwards’ Wings from Sydney in third.

Green commented, “It was a simple beat and a reach back home. The second race was the same. We got clean air that helped us keep up with the big boats and we played the shifts going up the beat well and sailed a clean downwind to the finish.

“It was a lot of fun. It only got up to about 10 knots, which worked well for us in the first race. We’re a light boat, so we usually do well in light air.”

The second race was identical and won by Mako with Peter Sorensen’s Advanced Philosophy second and Wings third.

On the other course area, boats struggled to hold kites near Orchard Rock and beyond. The light airs were on the edge of ‘to spinnaker – or not to spinnaker’. Some held, just, while others elected to pole out headsails, changing from side to side at the whim of the breeze.

Rob Rainsford’s Y Knot, a Hanse 40 from Victoria, scored a huge 10 minute win in Division 2 when the handicaps were applied. Brian Yarnall’s Mika (Vic) placed second, with ‘Sir’ Robbo Robertson’s Its Time in third.

Division 3 went to Amaya II, Ben and Matt Kingsberry’s Farr 11.6 from Townsville. The brothers won SeaLink Spinnaker 2 Division by the skin of her teeth last year with Amaya II, so they were happy to add a race win to their name this year. Today’s win was by just over a minute to Mark Skelton’s Jab (NSW), with Mark Pollak’s Belle (Qld) third.

“We had a good day, it suited our old sails, plus we had a bit of breeze, which was nice,” Ben Kingsberry said.

“It was a day when nothing went wrong and we put it together well. We picked up a crew from Guilty Pleasures which lost her rig on Saturday, but we are a crew of misfits, including Jim Nixon from Sydney. Actually, he’s the only reason we won today,” Kingsberry said among much mirth from the crew.

“We had everyone around us and thought we were doing OK, but you never know until you see the results.”

Queenslander Wayne McNee and his Celebrity crew had a great day out, looking good early on, they kept their strong performance going to the end. Jack Maguire’s local boat, Zen, was second and Daniel McSweeney’s Brigus (Qld) placed third.

“Our crew put it all together,” McNee insisted. “It was an absolutely fantastic day. The sun was shining, the breeze was good and the whales were at play near Horseshoe Bay, so we had a wonderful day,” the owner of the blue Swarbrick S111 design said.

“The breeze was on the edge downwind, so we stayed near the land and picked up some shifts off the hills.”

Adrian Lawrie’s Schionning 15.2, Scamper (Qld) took out Multihull Division 1 from Darren Drew’s Wind Cheetah (NSW) and Graeme Etherton’s The Boat from Townsville.

Multihull Division 2 went the way of Ken Plowman’s Red Undies, a Lightwave 38 from Pittwater in NSW. Ian Johnson’s local multi, Salacia, was second and Stephen Richardson’s Shenanigans (Vic) third.

“Everyone’s been trying to figure out the name for 15 years,” Red Undies owner said. “My wife is a bit of a rebel and she wanted a name nobody would forget. When you radio the coastguard, they ask you to please repeat your boat name, and I say: ‘As you wear them’,” Plowman said with a laugh.

On the race, the Pittwater sailor said, “It was a taxing and interesting one. We decided to start on port tack on the starboard side, so of course we were last off the line, but first around the windward mark. Nobody got in front of us.

“We had a really good tussle with Salacia (Ian Johnson and crew). They are good friends of ours. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here racing. We met them at Hamilton Island in 2019 and they said we had to come here because it’s laid back and a lot of fun. They were right.”

Racing continues tomorrow from 11am.

For all information, including list of entries, places to visit and more, please visit:     

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                            3 September, 2022

Lay day fun day at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

Lay day represents Townsville Airport Father’s Day at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), not only for competitors and friends, but the droves that come in their hundreds from mainland Townsville, including tourists.

Picnic Bay was packed to the rafters for the Family Life Sandcastle Competition, markets, food stalls, beach – and a new addition to Townsville Yacht Club’s annual event, Acadian Surf Club's Great Inflatable Race, which proved a popular new addition.

Anyone with their own inflatable item entered. The Arcadian Surf Club helped with the ‘inflation station for those in need and provided a food stall with drinks for all. Entrants were innovative and there were lots of shrieks from the water and the jetty at Picnic Bay, the perfect viewing platform.

The Great Inflatable Race raised money for community projects. New community sponsors joined the fun day this year, in the shape of Queensland Country Bank and  NBN Co.

Afterwards came the mud crab races and entertainment from Godfathers of Funk, who provided great hits and had the crowds up dancing.

Event Chairman, Mike Steel was there with his family: “We’re having a great time, as everyone seems to be doing. There’s a good selection of things for people to do and it’s good seeing the throngs back again with lockdowns no longer in place,” he said.

Looking for somewhere to lunch, many enjoyed Picnic Bay’s new Maggie Island Brewery and beer garden, which was packed yesterday. Opened by regular SMIRW competitor, James Permezel and friend Mick Grimshaw, the business appears to be a success.

Permezel bases his yacht, Charm Offensive, here at the Island and is currently leading SeaLink Spinnaker Division 2, having won Races 1 and 2.

A new day has dawned and racing re-starts, with the first of seven divisions away at 11am.

For all information, including list of entries, places to visit and more, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                            3 September, 2022

Bumpy turns to beautiful at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

The morning started lumpy and bumpy at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), but by midday, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and sailing conditions were about as good as it gets for Day 2 of Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) Strand Bay Race.

Racing on the Townsville City Council Race Day was away on time at 11am, with Division 1 first off the line. After that start, Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson, was heard loud and clear with a number of individual recalls in other divisions.

The fleet started off Peppers Blue on Blue Resort and worked up to Strand Bay, where onlookers on the Esplanade in Townsville were treated to the colourful sight of the various divisions setting spinnakers for the run home via a mark or two.

SeaLink Multihull Class Division 1 went to Gordon Beath’s Chamberlin 14, Roamance, a regular at Maggie Island, she also won Race 1. Darren Drew’s Wind Cheetah placed second, only 11 seconds behind the winner. Graeme Etherton’s local entry, The Boat, placed third.

In Multihull Division 2, Gary Prestedge took advantage of the conditions that suited his Lagoon 380, Happy Hours (Vic), to win the race. Stephen Richardson’s Shenanigans placed second, with Red Undies, owned by Ken Plowman (NSW), in third.

“This is our second time here; we came to have lots of fun,” insisted Prestedge, who previously raced at Maggie Island with the Archambault 40, One For the Road. However, after six months cruising on a multihull, he loved it, so converted.

On their race today, Prestedge said: “The boys are good sailors – we had three on board yesterday and 10 today – the ladies abandoned us yesterday to go to the Liptember Long Lunch.”

Conditions, he said, “Were much nicer than yesterday. We are a heavy boat. It helped to have a good start and the boys and girls all did their jobs well.” As to his order for Monday, the Victorian said, “We just need a bit more breeze because of the heaviness of the boat. But I want to stress, “We are here for a good time and that’s what we’re having.”  

The Non-Spinnaker division was won by Noel Borel’s Kulani, an Eastcoast 31 from Lake Macquarie in NSW, which gives her the series lead. It has made Borel fear that race management will take a hacksaw to his handicap. Second and third places went to locals, Russell Kingston’s Falcon and Mal Pirret’s Champagne.

“We like the lumpy and bumpy stuff,” Borel said this afternoon. “We had a pretty good start. There were a couple of boats that were over, which caused a few issues for all of us. We pretty much stayed in the middle of the course and picked up a good wind shift going to the top mark.

“From there it was a poled-out reach and we stayed out of trouble. Today was right in our wind strength. It works well in the chop. We didn’t have reef at all. We’d like more like that, but unfortunately you can’t book them,” he said laughing.

Around 12.30pm, Ragamuffin 111 called the start boat to advise a sports boat had been dismasted at Middle Reef. Stuart Tivey’s local yacht stood by the boat, Guilty Pleasures 9 So What, until a mark boat came to tow the vessel back to Maggie Island Marina. Such a pity, she was flying yesterday, her crew enjoying the ride.

Later in the race, ‘Sir’ Robbo Robertson retired It’s Time (Qld), citing mainsail damage. Then the forestay on Jessie Goodheart’s local boat, Godspeed, broke, but drinks in hands and obviously enjoying themselves, they finished their race in the Non-Spinnaker division.

In other news, Peter Byford and Rob Aldis’ Azuree 46, Kayimai, won SeaLink Division 1 to take the overall lead. Ian Edwards’ Wings placed second with Craig Douglas’ Popeye third.

In Division 2, James Permezel (Charm Offensive, Vic) made it two from two with a win today from John Kint’s Bundaberg (Vic).

Division 3 went to Rob Reynolds Fareast 28R, despite a wineglass in the spinnaker on the run. TYC Rear Commodore, Tony Muller, sailed Brava into second place. However, it is TYC Vice Commodore and Event Chairman, Mike Steel, who is in second place overall with Boadicca, after two days of racing. 

All went well for Townsville Yacht Club, as John Stokes, the Commodore, won Division 4 with his Mach 1, to take the overall lead. After taking the win yesterday, Ian Griffiths backed up with second today with Witchy Woman, for second overall.

Tomorrow is the traditional lay day, which also marks Father’s Day. Racing continues on Monday off Peppers Blue Resort from 11am.

For all information, including list of entries, places to visit and more, please visit:     

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                            2 September, 2022

Day 1 at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week done and dusted

Nautilus Marine Insurance Race Day opened proceedings at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) today, competitors warming up for a week of racing and fun social activities ashore – there is no better way to beat the winter blues for those who live outside Queensland.

Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) first race presented difficulties early on, with breeze almost non-existent, causing a delay in racing after Division 1 was sent on its way, with some going sideways and backwards to begin with. It was also moody and overcast, with not much to recommend it, but when the wind arrived, everyone brightened up.

Koa, Andy Kearnan/Peter Wrigley’s TP52 won SeaLink Spinnaker Division 1. It is Koa’s first appearance here at Magnetic Island. Peter Sorensen, who has experienced the delights of SMIRW previously, placed second with his Sydney 38 Advanced Philosophy. Craig Douglas sailed Popeye into third. An all NSW podium.

“It was a strange day. We started in 3-4 knots, so we were surprised Denis (Thompson, Principal Race Officer) sent us off. It was tough conditions, sloppy and not much air to begin with. We have a crew of locals and experienced sailors though, so our boat mechanics were good. It was a team effort,” Kearnan commented.

Thompson explained his decision to let Division 1 continue after the start: "By the time I decided, some boats had gone too far to recall them. It would have been unfair to the likes of Koa and Sorro (Peter Sorensen, Advanced Philosophy), who had good starts, to call them back.”

Kearnan continued: “We knew the breeze was offshore, so we pushed the bow down hard and got into the wind quickly, so that cemented our win. It was more a function being able to get into that new air. The small boats struggled, while I think we made good gains.”

The Sydney yachtsman said they saw 18-19 knots at one stage, but mainly 14-15 knots across the course.

In Division 2, James Permezel laid it on thick with his ‘Charm Offensive’. The Hanse 445 lapped up her five minute win over Rob Rainsford’s Y Knot. John Kint’s lovely Adams/Radford design, Bundaberg, took third place after getting off the start line very smartly.

There was a sigh of relief when a local boat featured in the top three today when Leon Thomas’ Guilty Pleasures 9 So What claimed first place in Division 3. The Stealth 7.8 broke speed restrictions downwind and posted a three minute win over Mark Skelton’s Jab (NSW) and Eddie Mackevicius’ Merlion (Vic). The latter two are Beneteau 40.7s, so it will be interesting to see which is best at the end of the week.

The race in Division 4 went Ian Griffith’s way today. The Queenslander sailed his Hanse 400e, Witchy Woman, to a win over local favourites, John Stokes with Mach 1 and Jack Maguire’s Zen.

“We had a pretty good day. The boat liked it,” Griffith said. “We were at the top end of our No. 1 headsail. By the time we started, conditions were nice; 8-10 knots became 15 knots further up the course. I felt sorry for some of the boats in Division 1, they had a hard time of it.”

The boats that did best, according to Griffiths, “Went left and stayed left. They were lifted by the tide, which probably gave them a distinct advantage. We happened to be one of those to go left…”

Ashore, there was a packed room for Rachelle’s Liptember Long Lunch at Peppers Blue on Blue Resort, including a fashion parade and entertainment by Sarah Little, all in support of Women’s mental health. The lunch was still going strong as the boats finished.

All ashore after racing, competitors and their entourages were eagerly anticipating the prize giving and video presented by Creek to Coast’s Scotty Hillier, who by his own reckoning, has been attending SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week “for around 13 years now.”

A wide variety of boats from multihulls to monohull racers, cruisers and sports boats are taking part. Entries embrace Victoria, Tasmania, NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory will mix it with the Queenslanders in various classes and divisions.

Racing continues tomorrow off Peppers Blue Resort from 11am.

For all information, including list of entries, places to visit and more, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                          23 August, 2022

Denis Thompson shares his passion for yachting

Sailing events happen throughout the year and year round across Australia; you run into a lot of the same people, especially the race officers and volunteers who make each regatta and race what they are - but do you really know these people as well as you think you do?

We sat down with renowned Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson, ahead of his duties at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week and put some questions to him.  

Would you still call yourself a Kiwi – or do you consider yourself an Aussie?

DT: I am an Australian. I barrack for the Wallabies, not the All Blacks. That’s not to say I don’t follow what happens in New Zealand.

When did you move to Australia and was it straight to Sydney?

DT: The first time was 1969 when I was 19 or something like that. After, I went to Europe, as people do when they travel and backwards and forwards to New Zealand to take my son to school there, particularly high school. He went to university there as well, but he lives in Sydney now.

It’s my son’s 50th during Race Week and he has two kids, my grandkids, a granddaughter 17 and my grandson turns 15 in about a month’s time.

When did you meet Maggie, your partner, who is integral to what you do?

DT: I met Maggie in New Zealand three years before coming to Australia. And yes, she is a big part of what I do and travels with me regularly to regattas as a volunteer.

How many SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Weeks have you done as PRO?

DT: I was there from the start in 2007 and help set it up.

And other Race Weeks?

DT: I’ve been doing Hamilton Island since 2007 also. I did 10 Airlie Beach Race Weeks and I’ve done around 15 Festival of Sails. I’ve also been with Sail Port Stephens since Day 1 in 2007.

What other events do you do?

DT: Lots regattas and races for clubs such as the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Middle Harbour Yacht Club, Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron and Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club. I also do events for New Caledonia Yacht Club, races such as the Groupama Race and match racing events, including the Youth Match Racing Worlds a few years back.

What are your highlights thus far?

DT: Being a race officer for the 2000 Olympics was special.

Maggie Island has its place because I’ve been there right from the beginning and seen it develop from its early days. It’s quite different in its own way. Each regatta is slightly different, each has its own personality.

What’s different about Magnetic Island?

DT: People still race hard and expect good courses, but it has a North Queensland flavour about it.

What do you try to bring to each event?

DT: The regattas and races are for the sailors. I think of the sailors as our customers and I always try to do the best for the customers.

Were you/are you a sailor?

DT: I started on small dinghies, but not for long, then I moved to bigger boats doing keelboat racing and mainly done that all my life. I don’t get the chance much now, haven’t had for a couple of years.

What set you on the path to race management and becoming a PRO?

DT: I was involved in a small club in New Zealand where everyone has a go at everything. I quite enjoyed race management and considered it a challenge. There were some good race officers in New Zealand and I wanted to see if I could work my up to being as good as they were. I’m always trying to improve myself. I don’t rest on my laurels. It’s about giving our customers the best and making good decisions. Hopefully, 90 percent of your decisions are right. As Garry Player said, ‘the more you practice, the better you become’.

What did you do to reach PRO status?

DT: You start as a club race officer, work your way to state race officer, then to national and from there, international. When you get to international standard, there are various grades, but once there, you should be able to run international events through to Olympics.

Would you encourage others to go down this path?

DT: I’d like to see more younger people do what I do. There are a few coming through, but not like we’ve seen in the past, such as in the lead up to the 2000 Olympics. We’ve lost a few people since that time and we have to train people up. Maybe the Olympics coming to Queensland in 2032 might give some people the impetus again.

What else do you do in your role?

DT: I do a lot of seminars, but the thing you can’t teach is experience. You get that by maintaining your interest and with longevity.

I’ve had a pretty good time doing what I do. In 2018 I was presented with Australian Sailing’s President’s Award. It’s nice to have because it means you are recognised by your peers.

Do you have any characteristics you’re known for?

DT: Yes, among the race officers I work with and the sailors. When I got cancer a few years ago, I could imagine lying in a cask and someone, or a few someone’s, calling out; ‘drop, drop, drop’! (This is his instruction for laying marks, particularly the start pin).

Fortunately, I’m rid of the cancer, the magic drug has kept it away, with no side effects. I have tests every three months. I look at life differently since I had the cancer…

For all information, including list of entries, places to visit and more, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media


MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                   7 June, 2022

Serious racing mixed with frivolity ashore at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

In an effort to get the edge on their compadres come September, a dozen or so SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) entrants quietly put in successful practice at Port Douglas Race Week last week, while the rest of us were suffering the effects of the early winter chill.

Townsville local, Vicki Hamilton, sailed Akarana to second overall at Port Douglas and Mike Steel, the Vice Commodore of SMIRW host, Townsville Yacht (TYC), sailed Boadicca to third place overall. Lance Denby, owner of last year’s SMIRW Non Spinnaker Division winner (Ostara) claimed a clean sweep of Division 2 at Port Douglas Race Week, giving a sneak peak of their current form. Other locals also competed and finished in the top ten: Doug Ryan (Shazam) and Stuart Tivey (Ragamuffin III).

Infiltrators included Victorian Rob Rainsford with Y Knot who placed fifth and Bob and Sharon Colman who sailed Red Knot from the Northern Territory and placed 10th, perhaps giving them the upper hand on their rivals when SMIRW is staged from 1-7 September. 

“Port Douglas Race Week is a great warm-up event for us,” admitted an unabashed Steel, who doubles as SMIRW Event Chairman.

“It’s a friendly regatta and everyone is made to feel welcome. It’s also a good way to meet some competitors who are entered for our SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week,” he said of the event that was sold out within four hours of entries being opened.

Competitors are in for a surprise this year, with a new fun social activity planned for the lay day. The Acadian Surf Club's Great Inflatable Race is the latest on water event to be added to the Townsville Airport Father's Day at Picnic Bay on Sunday 4 September, from around 11.30am to 1.00pm.

Anyone who has their own inflatable item can enter and the Arcadian Surf Club will have an ‘inflation station at the event for those needing their item inflated on the day, so be inventive! For those more interested in watching the fun, the best vantage point is, of course, the Picnic Bay Jetty.

The Great Inflatable Race will raise money for community projects and a small entry fee will be charged to enter. New community sponsors are joining in the Sunday fun day this year too. We welcome Queensland Country Bank and  NBN Co.

There are a host of attractions to enjoy at Picnic Bay pre and post the Great Inflatable Race, not to mention those elsewhere on Maggie Island. Buses depart regularly from the SeaLink Ferry Terminal to everywhere, making it easy for visitors to get around. See the official SMIRW website for all the details.

All the SMIRW action is centred around Peppers Blue on Blue Resort and the fun begins with the Welcome Function on Thursday evening, 1 September. And each afternoon following racing is the not to be missed prize giving, hosted by none other than Scotty Hillier.

Camera in hand, Scotty follows racing on a jet ski and brings the day’s action to the big screen, along with any snippets of gossip he gleans during the week, while competitors and friends enjoy a few drinks.

A wide variety of boats from multihulls to monohull racers, cruisers and sports boats are taking part. Entries representing Victoria, Tasmania, NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory will mix it with the Queenslanders in various classes and divisions.

For all information, including list of entries, places to visit and more, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                   8 March, 2022

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week sold out in four hours!

Within 15 minutes of entries opening for Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), the belle of the north was at 50 percent capacity in 15 minutes, and less than four hours later, was a complete sell-out – an unprecedented response for any major Australian sailing event.

“The response has well exceeded our expectations,” a thrilled event Chairman, Mike Steel said of the 15th edition of SMIRW, to take place from 1-7 September, 2022.

“We sold out within days last year, but never dreamed it would happen so quickly this time. Some of our own regular club members have missed out - they can’t believe it - we are putting them and others who were too late on a waiting list.

“It’s a beautiful Island in a beautiful part of the world and I think SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week offers something a little different to other regattas,” he said, rationalising the sell-out.

Steel is right, the annual regatta has a certain je ne sais quoi. Part of the attraction is everything from the ferry terminal to Peppers Blue on Blue Resort, its marina, restaurants, supermarket and bottle shop are within shouting distance. And the fun factor is unlimited.

‘Maggie Island’ has such a strong pull it has enticed several interstate competitors to set up businesses and/or purchase homes there over the years.

Among the newcomers yet to sample the delights of the event, is Andy Kearnan with his and Peter Wriigley’s grand prix racing yacht, Koa. The Sydney based TP52 has not travelled this far north to race before, but Kearnan has heard about TYC’s marquee event from others, and it has piqued his interest.

“I’ve never done Magnetic Island before, so I’m keen to experience it. I’ve been told by others is that it’s a fantastic regatta; relaxing and enjoyable. It’s an opportunity go racing and to have some fun. It’s a combination of all those things that is taking us there.

“It’s going to be a bunch of friends getting together and I’m really looking forward to it. Koa’s doing Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island and Magnetic Island. I’ve done 11 Hamilton Islands, but never gone further.”

Shaz and Bob Colman are bringing their Delphia 40, Red Knot, all the way from the Northern Territory to race at Maggie for the first time too.

“I’ve done last two Magnetic Islands on Celebrity (Wayne McNee’s Swarbrick S111), so Bob and I thought we’d bring our own boat this time. We’re leaving this week. We’ll make a beeline for Cape York and stop at Flinders Island Group (in the Lakefield National Park, Queensland). We’ll do Port Douglas Race Week in May to warm-up,” Shaz Colman said. 

“I love the spirit of Magnetic Island Race Week. It’s fun, but it’s also got serious competition if you want it. We just love the Island. We’ve made friends there and in Townsville, so we’re keen to catch up again.”

On whom will crew the boat, the Darwin yachtswoman said: “I’m trying to encourage a few Darwin people to join us. Two of my women friends are keen to come. We’re going to do Townsville Yacht Club’s GaLS Regatta after Magnetic Island.”

Colman and her husband bought the Polish design performance cruiser in Brisbane in 2014: “It’s well set up for cruising – it’s got everything down to genset, air-conditioner and water maker – so we did some cruising on the way home and now it’s time to come back,” she ended.

A wide variety of boats from multihulls to monohull racers, cruisers and sports boats are taking part. Entries representing Victoria, Tasmania, NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory will mix it with the Queenslanders in various classes and divisions.

For all information, including list of entries, please visit:  

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                              6 September, 2021

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: From lay day to race day

Yesterday was a lay day at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), it was also Father’s Day, which translated to fun times for all at the Townsville Airport Father’s Day at pretty Picnic Bay on Magnetic Island.

Free kids’ activities, markets, food stalls, a sand castle competition, mud crab races, food and entertainment at Picnic Bay Hotel and the famous Beer Can Regatta, meant there was something for everyone.

The Beer Can Regatta is a real novelty at the week-long Maggie Island Race Week. Teams, including sponsors Star 106.3 Radio, with the breakfast team of Crystal and Brady at the helm, joined the fun. Each team builds their own boats from whatever materials they can lay their hands on - including beer cans - and then race to a buoy and return to the beach.

It’s a real crowd-pleaser among the yachties, locals and visitors to the Island. Throughout the race, the flour bombs tossed from the jetty by spectators, were coming down like rain, amid a lot of cheering and laughter.

The mud crab races also bring on the cheers and the ‘c’mons’. Twenty were auctioned off to anyone wanting to participate  over two races, and the bidding, as usual, was fierce.

“We (the Boadicca crew) paid $310 for a crab that came last,” lamented Boadicca’s owner, Mike Steel, who doubles as SMIRW Event  Chairman.

“It was a sprinter when they auctioned it, but it ran out of juice before the start,” he said laughing. It’s a great event and we raised $1500 for the Magnetic Island Koala Hospital. They do such a good job looking after injured wild life here.” 

Following a long day of fun in the sun, it’s back to the serious business of racing in the Townsville Yacht Club (TYC) organised Race Week.

Racing starts from 11am and organisers are sending the mix of multihulls, yachts, keelboats and sports boats on a variety of courses.

SeaLink Spinnaker 1 Division boats have two races on the Bay. The first starts at 11.30am and takes them from the start off Peppers Blue on Blue to the Nautilus Marine mark, to Cleveland Bay and onwards to the finish.

SeaLink Spinnaker Divisions 2 and 3, along with the Non-Spinnaker Division, are undertaking one race. They also head to the Nautilus Marine mark, then to Orchard Rocks, White Rock, back to Orchard Rocks and onto the finish.

The Multihull Division has the virtually the same course, but an extra leg to Cleveland Bay has been thrown in.

This morning there is a gentle south/sou-easterly breeze blowing under a sunny blue sky, with a few small puffy clouds floating by. Blissful. The forecast is for 10 knots on the Bay, giving the light weather performers their best chance of success.

Lance Denby is leading the Non-Spinnaker division going into the day’s racing, having won both Races 1 and 2 with his Bavaria 38, Ostara. Having seen the weather forecast, he is gleefully rubbing his hands.

“Racing has been excellent. We’re one of the smaller boats in the fleet, so it’s good to get a couple of wins up,” Denby said.

“High wind suits us. When it’s lighter we tend not to do well at all. We’re happy with today’s 10 knots – that’s enough to do the job. We are absolutely looking forward to the day and we’ll obviously be trying to stay up front again.”

For full results and all information, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                              4 September, 2021

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Big day out at The Strand

A spectacular sight awaited locals and tourists who were out and about on The Strand at Townsville, where they were treated to racing at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week with the Strand Race, including a leg that took competitors on a course parallel to the Strand.  

Drew Carruthers made it two from two, winning the Multihull Division again with his Drew 15, Rushour. In fact, the top three finished in the same order as they did yesterday, with Graeme Etherton’s Crowther 32 Windspeed, The Boat, was second and Salacia, Ian Johnson’s Lightwave 38, third.

“The weather here is beautiful. We had an inshore race, so the sea was more settled compared to yesterday. We’re the only full-on racing multi here and I have a very good crew,” said Carruthers, who is attending Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) yearly event for the first time.

“When they cancelled Hamo (Hamilton Island Race Week), we already had boat up north, so thought we’d do Magnetic. We also have clients here who are sailing with us. It’s lovely here; and everyone’s relaxed and happy and here to have fun. It’s a bonus to win two races.”  

In SeaLink Spinnaker Division 1, there was a bit of argy bargy on the start line, resulting in a protest between Zoe and Ponyo. In the end, Craig Watson brought home the bacon with Coopers, his Jeanneau 53.

Less than a minute separated them from second placed Crusader, the Melges 32 owned by Tasmanian couple, Brett and Jacinta Cooper. A day of Coopers, one way or the other. Yesterday’s winner, Guilty Pleasures 8 (Leon Thomas), placed third. 

“I’m a Maggie virgin,” the affable Watson declared. “I’ve done 22 Hamos, and 10 Airlie Beaches, and I have to say the camaraderie and friendship here at Maggie is second to none. It’s laid back and friendly and the courses are great. And happy days, we’ve had a win!

On the course and conditions, Watson said, “It was a bit light on to start with, but it got to 15-16 knots and stayed pretty constant. We didn’t make any mistakes. We had a good spinnaker run on the run to home and got into some close encounters with Vanilla 2 (the David Perkins skippered Dufour 560 Grand Large).”

Watson said they gybed ahead of their foe to reach the finish in front. “My team is doing extremely well. I’m very happy with them. We’re here to race hard and play hard,” he said.

Cooper, who owns the Courthouse Hotel in Mullumbimby, handed SMIRW 20 cartons of Coopers beer to organisers to use for prizes today. “Coopers is the only Australian owned mainstream brewery and the Cooper family (from Adelaide) are wonderful people,” he said.

In SeaLink Spinnaker Division 2, Anastasia, Iseulta and Warrigal took the wrong mark, and realising their mistake back on land, gracefully retired. At the front end of the fleet, Lindy Sawbridge skippered Helena May to a win.

“It was the best race, a great course and so much fun. I had a seven-year-old Jackson as my sewer rat and he did a fabulous job. We also had 12-year-old Ruby and her mum aboard and took two representatives from event sponsors, Lowes Petroleum, with us. They had a ball.

“Lots of sails up and down, packing sails, lots of gybing and manoeuvres – an interesting and fun day. From seven years of competing, this is the first time Helena May has won a Yellow Hat (awarded to race winners),” Sawbridge ended.  

In SeaLink Spinnaker Division 3, Fletcher Tivey was able to repair Thunder Struck’s mast, broken prior to Race 1 yesterday, and sailed his Etchells to a win.

“Yesterday, very disappointing, I felt deflated, but with help from a couple of friends on the Island and from my father, we were able to repair – one of the stays had let go. I was chuffed to win.” His parents have both Big Mama and Ragamuffin III at Magnetic, so were able to help.

Peter Webster’s Farr 1104, Son of a Son, finished second to Thunder Struck and was also second yesterday, so now leads Division 3 overall. Webster also took line honours today; good reason to celebrate.

“We had a really good team of people including some from the Mayfair as we work towards the Sydney Hobart. The conditions and the event have been the best. A nice south-sou’-east, swinging more east as the day went on. A typical Townsville day.

“There are four 1104’s in our division – us, Akarana, Infarrction and Vaya Con Dios. Whoever does best of the four has to buy the others drinks each day. Our shout!

“We managed to get the shy kite up early, which probably made the difference on clearing the first mark first, and we didn’t look back from there,” a pleased Webster said. 

Lance Denby’s Ostara won back-to-back races so leads the Non-Spinnaker division. Today he sailed his Bavaria 38 to a win over Glenn Myler’s Thylacime One and Gavin Gourley’s Elektra.

Tomorrow is layday at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, when crews, their families and friends take advantage of all the Island has to offer. Racing returns on Monday.

For full results and all information, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                              4 September, 2021

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Where there’s a will there’s a way 

There are some things you can run on the smell of an oily rag, but race management at a major event is not one of them – just ask Australia’s most experienced Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson, who is once again overseeing proceedings at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) .

Thompson, along with numerous would-be competitors, is in lockdown at home in Sydney, from where he is conducting ‘the orchestra’, for the annual Townsville Yacht Club (TYC) event. Fortunately, for years he has worked alongside regular teams at this event, Hamilton Island Race Week, and in the recent past, Airlie Beach Race Week, among other major events in Australia. 

Thompson said while not ideal, many of his regular team and the wonders of the electronic world are helping him to run the event from home. This morning, they are discussing the Strand Bay Race, which takes the fleet parallel to The Strand, where locals and tourists in Townsville can take in the action from shoreside.   

“I have a zoom meeting in the morning with key people to discuss weather and courses and other things that come up. And during racing, I keep in touch with the on-water and onshore team as to what is going on. We then have a debrief each evening. Competitors have my number to, so I can still answer any questions they might have,” Thompson said.

Thompson has never been in this position before and says, “It’s about having good people around you. Most of us have worked together many times and we know each other’s habits. Race Officer, Jenny Birdsall, is very capable. I have a lot of confidence in her. The same goes for the Chairman of the Protest Committee, Mark Gallagher.

“Rob Brown (a noted Sydney sailor from Sydney who has moved to Bribie Island) is up there too. He is a great all-rounder who I’ve known for years. Matthew Dickinson is also there. I’ve worked with him at Southport Yacht Club quite a bit. He can do anything. Everyone has to do a bit of everything.

“Brian McMahon was able to get up there before lockdown, so he’s joined the team too. He’s always a good hand. We have Greg Sinclair in lockdown in Geelong working in the background with us too.”

Thompson says they are lucky to be joined by “some good locals. It all seems to be working well. I’m watching AIS (live vessel tracking) all the time, so I have a good idea of what’s happening.”

Back on site at Magnetic Island, crews are mainly finishing breakfast at Peppers Blue on Blue and will take a hop skip and a jump to the marina where others are already preparing their boats for the race ahead, which starts off the resort from 11am.

For full results and all information, please visit:    

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                              3 September, 2021

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week – it’s one of those gems

It was straight into the thick of things when Townsville Yacht Club (TYC) kick-stated SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) proceedings today, with a race taking in Four Foot Rock off Townsville, the sailing conditions superb with a solid 15 knot wind and gusts to boot.

Fresh from the Tokyo Games, AOC executive board member, Matt Allen, is co-skippering Chris McSorley’s Hanse 445  Lunacy with Bryan Kennett. It is a far cry from Allen’s two-time Sydney Hobart winning TP52, Ichi Ban, but Allen is enjoying himself immensely, Magneitc Island already working its magic on him.

“I only arrived yesterday. This is my first time here. It’s been difficult for me to get here with my boat, because of regattas back in Sydney (in the lead-up to the Rolex Sydney Hobart), but I’m here on a friend’s boat.

Allen had to quarantine for a couple of weeks, “So I haven’t done much since arriving back in Australia. In fact, this is the first regatta I’ve done. Chris (McSorley) and I used to sail with and against each other back in the 80’s. Chris is locked down in Melbourne, but Brian’s here. I’m glad I came.

“The situation with the marina and Peppers, the supermarket and ferry terminal is incredible; everything is on your doorstep. It’s very chilled, casual and everyone is relaxed and friendly. Beautiful conditions too - shorts and tee- shirt weather.”

Looking for something to do post the Tokyo Games, Allen said, “Chris and I had a chat some weeks ago, as he was hopeful of getting here. So I suggested we put crew together and go for a sail.” 

Allen and Kennett finished third in SeaLink Spinnaker Division 2 today. They were beaten to the punch by Russell McLaughlin’s Catalina 400, Freya, and Boadicca, a Dufour 36 owned and sailed by SMIRW event chairman, Mike Steel.

Local sailor, Leon Thomas took out SeaLink Spinnaker Division 1, with Guilty Pleasures 8, his Sayer 7. He beat his much larger rivals in Stuart Tivey’s famous Frers 48, Ragamuffin III, and Craig Watson’s Jeanneau 53, Coopers.

“Not good for my handicap to win on the first day,” Thomas lamented, “but it’s good to have a win. We’re the baby of Division 1, just 7 metres long.”

Thomas said the day was a cracker, “But it was a hard day. A solid 15 knot wind with a few gusts and the sea was a bit choppy. The tide made it a good tactical race too. We basically did a long windward/leeward course. We had a great upwind wind leg all the way to Four Foot Rock and then a nice square downwind to finish the day.  

Thomas said “We were nipping at the heels of the bigger boats all day. Crusader (Brett and Jacinta Cooper’s Melges 32 from Tasmania) was the carrot for us to chase.

“Sunny skies, spectacular weather. That’s why we come to Townsville. Add in good courses and then the social bit after. Maggie Island is one of those gems. You need to come and experience it. Lots of fun, not pretentious,” he said, adding, “We are the only boat to have done every Maggie Island Race Week.”   

Rushour, the Drew 15 multihull owned by Queenslander Drew Carruthers, charged to the finish line for a big win the Multihull division. He beat TYC regulars, Graeme Etherton’s ‘The Boat’, and Ian Johnson’s Salacia by 20 and 23 minutes respectively. 

In other news, 17 year-old Fletcher Tivey was going to sail against his father (Ragamuffin III) this week. Unfortunately, the rig  of his Etchells, Thunder Struck, came tumbling down before Race 1 started.  

Entrants from multihulls to sports boats and yachts in both spinnaker and non-spinnaker divisions are ensconced at the beautiful ‘Maggie Island’, along with their crews, family and friends, who are looking forward to a week of racing and fun in the sun, all centred around Peppers Blue on Blue resort.

For full results in all divisions and all information, please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                     13 July, 2021

Magnetic Island launches ‘Charm Offensive’ on Race Week entrants

Magnetic Island has turned heads for eons, but since SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week was added to the northern sailing regattas in 2007, competitors from far and wide have been captivated.

Four years ago, when James Permezel competed for the first time, with his Hanse 445 ‘Charm Offensive’, ‘Maggie’ turned the tables and used her charms on him. 

It was somehow meant to be. Permezel now bases his yacht at the Island’s marina, and with a friend, Mick Grimshaw, has bought a house and a commercial premises in picturesque Picnic Bay where the two are in the process of building a microbrewery. Fingers crossed it will be open in time for Race Week, (from 2-8 September). “Everyone is welcome,” he says.

“We were looking at buying something on the Island. Over dinner at Mamma Roma, someone said, ‘I think you can buy the arcade on Esplanade’ (where Mamma Roma is located). We rang the owners, they said yes, and we bought it three days later! We started to think about what to do and thought there was a gap for more restaurants and a microbrewery,” Permezel explains.

“We thought the arcade would be a great place to put a brewery and a beer garden – we are licenced for both. We’re using a local builder and brewer. Everyone is working hard to complete it and we’ve been trialling our beer.”

As to food, the Victorian says, “We’ll have bar snacks and a food van at the end of the beer garden. You’ll also be able to get food from Mamma Roma’s and any of the other shops in the arcade and bring it to the beer garden.”

Permezel said he and Grimshaw have had so much encouragement and support from the locals: “We put on a BBQ in the beer garden a couple of weeks back to thank all the workers and supporters. We added take away pizza from Mammas – and you could see how well it will work.”

While he continues to work in Victoria, the local brewer will manage the business. “But It gives me the perfect excuse to keep going back Maggie… I have a long-term plan to move to the Island,” says an enthusiastic Permezel.

Testing the local waters, he won Division at Port Douglas Race Week in late May, beating defending champion Mike Steel (Boadicca), who also happens to be the Event Chairman of SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week.  

“It was windy but glorious weather, competitive on the water, but so social back on shore, just like Maggie Island Race Week. I had seven weeks up north, spending most of the time at Maggie, and I moved Charm Offensive there.”

Permezel’s hope is to support tourism, and to help reinvigorate the Island’s economy, all the while enjoying his connection to it.

“It’s a hidden paradise. From a boating point of view, you can get direct flights to Townsville, the SeaLink ferry to Nelly Bay. Step off, and there you are right at Peppers, the marina, restaurants, the shops and a bottle shop. Everywhere else (other regattas) in Australia we go requires a car,” the Victorian says.

Permezel is not the first Race Week entrant to feel the pull of well-named Magnetic Island. Paul and Clare Ley, a Sydney couple who own the Kaufman 58, Pilgrim, moved their sail charter business lock, stock and barrel. 

Paul Ley: “Winters in Sydney were dire for our business. About seven years ago, we cruised up and down the coast and ended up at Maggie. We did Race Week, met Lance (Jager, the marina owner) and proposed we do winter charters here. Four years in, we loved the place, bought a house, but still went back and forwards. Five years later we moved here permanently.”

The friendly couple continues to race at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, with places on board available for charter. See: 

“The charter business has worked very well for us; we have staff now. We’ve started another business called ‘Beach Club’. We take people to beaches that aren’t otherwise accessible. See:

“We’re excited for James – we’ve had a few chats about the microbrewery. Our philosophy is to buy local on the Island, so if the brewery kicks off and goes well, we’ll use his beer on the boat for charters.  

“All the locals are excited and supportive – not that many new things have happened on the Island in recent times.”

Other Race Week competitors seduced by the beauty of Maggie Island include Tasmanian couple Jacinta and Brett Cooper who bought two units and marina berth, and Charm Offensive crew member, Steve Quinlivan, who will do up and move into a house he bought at Picnic Bay.

All information on SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week at:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                      11 May, 2021

Bringing the sisters and soul together at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

Townsville sailor Donna Dewhurst is happily heading to her 10th SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) where she will arrive with the usual all-female crew and her Hunter 310, Soul Sister, for Townsville Yacht Club’s annual event, which opens spring racing and closes the season of major sailing events in Northern Queensland each year.  

“This will be my eighth with my boat Soul Sister. I did my first two on other boats,” says Dewhurst of Race Week, to be run from 2-8 September.

“I wish I’d woken up earlier. I was a fulltime mum and hadn’t sailed for a while; then a friend introduced me to a friend from Melbourne who had the yacht Instant Karma entered for Maggie Island. And I thought it was about time I did some sailing again. I had a bloody ball. I forgot how much I loved sailing. You reignite yourself and reunite with old friends.”

Such was her positive experience, Dewhurst bought Soul Sister, named for the song, Soul Sister, by Train. “It was my dream to get a boat, and that song kept my dream alive because the words say everything about how I feel about sailing.

“I have an all-female crew from experienced to never sailed before. It’s great fun. I love the fact that I can give other women the opportunity to believe in themselves. We work as a tight team to support each other.

Soul Sister’s crew joins a handful of others who like to dress for the event. “We play Soul Sister and other songs that suit fellow racers. We do it to help motivate, focus and relax the crew. And we all love dancing,” says Dewhurst, whose crew is well-known for dancing on deck as they head from the marina at Peppers Blue on Blue to the start area – in costume.  

“The costumes idea started with Instant Karma – they would do funny quirky things – like wear big, sparkly sunglasses. The next year they sewed poppies onto purple shirts. Life’s too short, so I decided I would do something quirky – we have a dress up bag. It’s just grown.

Soul Sister is entered in Division 4 of the SeaLink Spinnaker Class, where you will find other like-minded ‘sisters’ racing. There is Jessie Goodheart with Constellation, along with regulars Lynda Sawbridge (Helena May), Carol Roberts (Infarrction)  and Vicki Hamilton, who arrives with a bunch of fun mainly female friends on Akarana, who also like to play dress-ups.

These women have two things in common; they all hale from different parts of Queensland - and all are in it to win it.

“We race to do our personal best every time.” Dewhurst states. “We’ve won races, and we won our division one year, which tore the house down. Everyone has fun with us and enjoy us, says Dewhurst, who has lived around Townsville most her life: “We moved here when I was 12 and I’ve sailed since.”

And what would Dewhurst share with newcomers to the regatta, now in its 14th year (last year was cancelled due to COVID)?

“I’d say ‘Welcome to the beginning of the best of your future regattas - you will never regret for the rest of your life’. Maggie Island’s uniqueness is the friendly, relaxed atmosphere. It makes you slow down and smell the sea air, makes you appreciate the weather, location, friends – and give you time to reflect.”

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                              15 March. 2021

Popular SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week a sell-out!

No sooner were entries open than entries flooded in for Australia’s favourite regatta, SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), and days later, all 80 berths were filled for the Townsville Yacht Club hosted event to be held from 2-8 September, 2021. 

“We knew people were itching to go sailing and travel again, but we were nevertheless amazed when numbers reached 35 on the day entries opened. Ten days later there were 70 and that quickly escalated to 80,”  Event Chairman, Mike Steel said.

“Entries are still coming in and we’re putting them on a reserve list. If any accepted entries can’t make it, we will advise those on the reserve list. TYC would like to create a separate Sports Boat division, so is offering dry storage to any still looking to enter.

Steel added, “We at Townsville Yacht Club are of course overjoyed to see such interest and to see a number of boats coming for the first time. Townsville and Magnetic Island businesses, are also excited to see events going ahead in the region again.”

Among the IRC Racing ‘newbies’ are top-drawer yachts in Gordon Ketelbey’s TP52, Zen; 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart winner, ‘Doctor Darryl’ Hodgkinson with his latest Victoire, a Carkeek 40 and Carl Crafoord’s Cookson 12, Sail Exchange. All are from NSW.  

Crafoord, a renowned navigator and boat owner with four Sydney Hobart wins to his credit, won Division 2 of the Blue Water Pointscore before Christmas, the 2020/21 Ocean Pointscore and currently leads the Summer of Sailing series at the CYCA in Sydney. 

“I’m doing Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race, the Brisbane Gladstone and then my family (wife Bettina and son Ben) is going to cruise the Great Barrier Reef before Sail Exchange heads to Airlie Beach Race Week. The icing on the cake will be Magnetic Island Race Week,” Crafoord said.

“I’ve never been to Magnetic Island. Bettina desperately wants to go. She’s heard so much about it and what it offers. She booked our accommodation at Peppers on Friday.

“I can’t wait to see the Island and race  there. We will be there to win – and to have fun ashore. I’ve heard a lot about it,” Crafoord said in relation to events such as the Father’s Day Fun Day, which is held with support from the local community.  

The newcomers will cross swords with the regulars such as the Andrew Pearson skippered Beneteau First 45, Highly Sprung (NSW), owned by Mark Spring, David Currie’s modified Farr 40 Ponyo (Vic) and David Fuller’s Corby 49, Vamp (NSW), the 2018 IRC winner.

"She’s back again with much the same mix of avid Sydney male and female racers,” says Pearson of Highly Sprung. “We’re keen to get back to Maggie’s warm waters and fantastic natural beauty.”
Multihulls are part and parcel of Race Week, as are Sports Boats, Trailable, Non Spinnaker and the most popular class of all SeaLink Spinnaker class, which tops the board with 58 entries, including many from the host club.

More on these classes in coming months. Across the board, entries represent  NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia

And while racing is the focus, competitors also make the most of basking in the relaxed social atmosphere SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week offers. Peppers Blue on Blue’s accommodation, marina, restaurant, bars, and stage area for the prizegiving and celebrations are a stone’s throw from the ferry terminal and a five minute motor to the start line. It just does not get any better.

“We are pleased to have Peppers Blue on Blue as our exclusive accommodation partner again in 2021,” Steel commented.

Steel said SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, the premier event on the Island, is responsible for adding over $1 million to the local economy. In this vein, TYC encourages visiting yachties and those who accompany them, to stay on and enjoy the area, which many do both pre and post event. 

Without support from Tourism and Events Queensland, Townsville City Council, SeaLink Queensland and a raft of other local partners, Race Week and other events would not be possible. 

Magnetic Island is well named, as both sailors and tourists are attracted to this pretty and friendly part of Far North Queensland. The Island is a pleasurable half hour SeaLink ferry ride from Townsville, with whale spotting thrown in free of charge.

All information on SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week at:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                            04 August 2020

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 2020 cancelled

The SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) 2020 committee has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s regatta, which was to be held from 27 August to 2 September.

Whilst the COVID19 situation is worsening in eastern states, Event Chairman, Mike Steel, said the decision to cancel Townsville Yacht Club’s popular annual event had been arrived at following lengthy discussions through a number of days.

“The Committee unanimously agreed that while the risks of contracting COVID19 in North Queensland at this time are small, the consequences should it happen are far greater,” Steel said. “Being a community-based club, keeping our sailing and wider-spread community safe is of paramount importance.

”Townsville Yacht Club and the SMIRW committee community asks for understanding in this matter: “We felt advising competitors now allows them time to make alternative plans, particularly those who are travelling to take part in our regatta,” Steel said.

Race Week officials have advised accommodation providers on Magnetic Island, including Peppers Blue on Blue Resort (which the regatta centres around) and Best of Magnetic. Both are willing to retain current bookings, reschedule/roll over bookings to another date, or to cancel and refund monies to competitors and their entourages.

Steel said, “We appreciate the disappointment competitors and all involved will be feeling. The committee and the TYC are just as devastated. This decision has been made after 12 months of the most difficult circumstances in which to plan an event. It has required possibly more discussion and planning than any other year, due to the evolving landscape of COVID19.” 

Over the next week, Townsville Yacht Club will work with entrants to refund entries fees.

We look forward to seeing you all on the water in 2021 for the 14th running of SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week.

 For all information on this special event, including past results, photos, videos and more please visit:

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                            26 February, 2020

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 2020 – first in best dressed

Townsville Yacht Club is set to open entry for SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) on 1 March, and rather than risk missing out as some did last year, many fingers are poised, ready to click the online entry button.  

“We were receiving enquiries as far back as October as to when entries for 2020 would open,” Mal Pirret, Event Chairman, said of the annual event to be held from 27 August to 2 September.

“The earlier you enter the less chance you have of missing out. We are capping entries to 80 to fill the 80 available marina berths,” he warned.

“Some people missed out last year because we ran out of berths before entry closed, so the rush is already on. Our regatta appears to have taken on a life of its own,” he mused.

Pirret, a director of TYC, and a regular participant at ‘Maggie’ Island Race Week with his aptly named Beneteau Oceanis 45, ‘Champagne’, said the Club was pleased to see Townsville Enterprise giving its thumbs up to the regatta: “It was featured throughout the newly released Townsville Enterprise Events Guide for 2020,” he remarked.

This year, SMIRW will also play host to the Northern Queensland Sport Boat Championship, in conjunction with Port Douglas Race Week (PDRW), which will host Round 1. From there, the Championship will move to Magnetic Island, where it will be decided.

“We hope to see an increase in the numbers from the sports boats, as they will obviously have their own division this year,” the event Chairman said.

“We are pushing to grow this side of the regatta. The boats will be housed ashore, next to the boat ramp located inside the marina precinct at Nelly Bay – without marina fees – to allow them to be left on their trailers fully rigged each night.” 

Early Bird entrants will receive multiple entries into the draw for the chance to win the fantastic Early Bird prize. The package is seven nights’ accommodation in a three bedroom apartment at the stunning Peppers Blue on Blue Resort (SMIRWs exclusive accommodation partner) and free berthing at Magnetic Island Marina at the 2021 Race Week. Enter by 31 May to be eligible.

Townsville entrant, Ian Johnson, could not believe his luck when he won this major prize in 2019. He will again be sailing his catamaran, Salacia, having competed at this regatta for a number of years.  

Peppers Blue on Blue Resort, around which Race Week is centred, is also 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 2020. Phone: (07) 4758 2400 or email [email protected]

Magnetic Island is well named, as both sailors and tourists are attracted to this pretty and friendly part of Far North Queensland. It is a pleasant SeaLink ferry ride away from Townsville, with sea life spotting thrown in free of charge.

Apart from the Sports Boat Championship, prospective entrants can choose from the SeaLink Spinnaker, SeaLink Non-Spinnaker and Multihull divisions. And as those who have been before will tell you, you don’t want to miss this special event.

A second warning - berthing for competing boats is at a premium, so enter now to avoid disappointment at:  

By Di Pearson/SMIRW Media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                              4 September, 2019

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: The Finale

Racing was delayed on the final day of Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), as Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson and his crew waited for a 5 knot breeze to filter through, and Division 1 was finally away at 1305 hours.

Thompson really had his work cut out in the next to nothing and fluky breeze, forced to fly the AP ashore until midday. Arriving at the start area, the PRO finally devised three separate courses across the divisions so that everyone got a fair go.

An emotional and popular win in Division 2, as Wine-Dark Sea finally broke the second place barrier of previous years to score overall victory. Sydney owner, Peter Lowndes, was almost speechless when it registered.

“I can’t believe it, because everything has been a bit of a blur,” he said aboard the Lyons 49 this afternoon as the crew enjoyed a few French bubbles.

“The crew (mainly regulars) have been fantastic. Everything happened when it should. I’ve sailed on top boats before and those boats are quiet boats, and that’s what we had all week. I’m proud of them.”

Lowndes said it was “the first time we’ve been called a lightweight flyer,” after finishing second today to win by two points from Ian Edwards’ Wings (NSW), and third placed Robbo Robertson (It’s Time); the Queenslander and his crew coming over to cheer on Wine-Dark Sea’s crew.

It was only when Lowndes crew played today’s song, appropriately Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’, that the tears flowed as they all remembered Lowndes’ partner, Sarah Goddard-Jones, who died in June. She would have loved to have been here sailing and celebrating the win. At tonight’s prize giving, someone will be awarded the trophy named in her honour.

Conditions looked dodgy during the day, with spinnakers collapsing in fading breezes, but it was just a tease, and back it came. Division 1 savoured the best of the day, as one of their marks was off the Strand at Townsville where 10-15 knots awaited.

Tim Campbell sailed over the top of this morning’s top three to win Division 1 from Newcastle’s Mako Sunglasses (Paul O’Rourke/Adrian Kiely) which had led going into the day. Campbell, from Victoria, left his comeback until the final race, in which he finished second to Tony Ritter’s Spank, crewed by Port Douglas youngsters. 

“Conditions suited to us; upwind and downwind legs and no reaching,” Campbell said. “We were able to sail deep downwind, which is what suits us and clinched it,” he said. This is our second year here and we trail the boat all the way from Melbourne, so it’s great to have a win.” 

“It’s well organised and a fantastic atmosphere. There was good competition and we love Magnetic Island and the lay day. We’d like to see AMS included next year,” Campbell finished.

Michael Unwin’s Fuzzy Logic won Division 4 by a solid eight points from Rod Finucane’s Fenina (Qld). “I think we just got lucky,” the Brisbane sailor said. “We got faster and faster as the week went on and conditions suited us – we are small and light and the big boats couldn’t get us. 

“It’s a brand new boat, so it was a complete unknown quantity. I was just hoping we would get through the regatta without embarrassing ourselves, so to win is really great,” Unwin said.

“It’s been six or seven years since I was here last, but I was here for the very first one and won on Akarana. It’s been a fantastic week, unbelievably perfect weather,” he ended.   

Smooth Operator’s owner, Charles Weatherly (Vic), used today’s worst result of fifth as his drop to win the Non-Spinnaker Division, but there were just two points in it. Bill Munro’s Centinela (Qld) came oh so close, but settled for second place.

Dennis Coleman discovered that father and son can be most successful when they sail together. Today they won the final race and thus climbed over the top of last year’s winner, The Boat (Graeme Etherton) to win the Multihull division overall. Coleman last won here in 2017. Both boats are from Townsville, so a local win.

Eddie Mackevicius racked up a 13-point win over Craig Douglas’ Popeye (NSW) and Lyndon Borgas’ Effarrvescent (Qld) in Division 3. Mackevicius introduced his PR manager/cockpit crew, Peter Clark, to do the talking.

“It’s always hard with handicap series, because you don’t always know where you are. There are other Beneteaus here; good yardsticks, but we never know till it’s over,” Clark said. “Most courses didn’t have any reaches and we don’t reach well, so that was a bonus.

“Race Management had done a great job all week. We haven’t been here before, but we’ve thoroughly enjoyed our first Magnetic Island Race Week. To travel all the way from Hobsons Bay (Victoria) and win, we are absolutely thrilled,” Clark finished.

All good things must come to an end, and so it is with SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week for another year. It was a successful one, with record entries and a waiting list of those wanting to experience the regatta everyone is talking about.

Event Chairman, Mal Pirret, said: “Townsville Yacht Club organisers are heartened by the continuing support of competitors for our event. We had a record numbers in 2019 and look forward to similar numbers next year. I would like to thank all competitors and the volunteers who help make SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week a success each year. I also thank SeaLink and all our sponsors.”

For all information and full results:

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                              4 September, 2019

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Last chance saloon

Today is the final day and race at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, and as such, it is a last chance for competitors to make an impact in the various divisions of the Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) annual week-long regatta – on yet another perfect day on Maggie Island.

On Highly Sprung, Andrew Pearson (no relation to the writer), the co-charterer of the Beneteau with Natalie Brown, is loath to return home after a week of sailing and fun with an interesting mix of crew.

“We have diversity on the boat this time; six ladies, philosopher Matt Lumsden, my mate Scott ‘Pooley’ Poole and the regulars, who are the owner, Mark Spring’s crew,” Pearson commented. Pooley said this was the best crew he has ever sailed with, while Scotty and I have done 4,000 miles of delivering boats up north together.” 

Pearson maintains they are “blending in to the Townsville way of life, but it is nearly time to go home. This week though, we are here to honour the Wine Dark Sea tradition.” It is the Lyons 49 owned by Peter Lowndes, who recently lost his partner in life and partner in the boat, Sarah Goddard-Jones, in a diving accident. She was a regular at Maggie Island with Peter.

The Sydney yachtsman said the trophy they most want to win “is the new Sarah Goddard-Jones Trophy,” donated by Lowndes in Sarah’s memory. The Trophy will be awarded to the person who most embodies her ethos for seamanship and sportsmanship above all else.

The Highly Sprung crew have one last chance to impress, as does the rest of the fleet. Starting the regatta well, they are now in fifth place, but a podium finish is not out of the question. Paul O’Rourke, the CEO of Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, has got the bit between the teeth, sitting atop the podium with the Sydney 40, Mako Sunglasses.

However, O’Rourke and co. are just one point ahead of Hughie Lewis/Gary Cripps on the Farr 40, Ponyo, and the Taswegians previously sat at the top of the board and can smell victory. A further three points adrift is the Rob Reynolds/Graham Turner chartered Fareast 28R from Middle Harbour in Sydney. On board is 29er and 49er designer and skiff sailor Julian Bethwaite. They will be laying it all on the line – and Highly Sprung is just a further point in arrears.

Joining Pearson ashore was David ‘Ollie’ Oliver, who is successfully mixing business with pleasure here on the Island.

By morning Ollie is the Musto Man, peddling the clothing brand as the official supplier here, then he hops aboard Sir Robbo Robertson’s ‘It’s Life’ and is taking credit for Robertson’s improved performance. Well he, may, having scored major wins over the years, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart on Victoire in 2013.

Division 4 victory is a lay down misere, as Michael Unwin’s Colson 550, Fuzzy Logic (Qld) holds all the cards with an incredible 17 point lead over nearest rival, Rob Finucane’s Fenina. There is a further two points to Peter Webster’s Son of a Son, and a further three to Lynda Sawbridge’s Helena May. The latter three are all from host, Townsville Yacht Club.

Fuzzy Logic has won three from four races, with a third in Race 1, when her crew was limbering up, while Donna Dewhurst’s Soul Sister won the opener.  

In the Multihull division, local yachtsman, Graeme Etherton is on the threshold of repeating his victory of last year with The Boat, his Crowther Windspeed 32 Cat. Second placed Mistress (Dennis Coleman) is three points behind. She finished second last year, but won in 2017. Kevin Lord’s Vivacious (NSW) is poised in third, a further two points away.

All will become clear by this afternoon.

For all information and full results:

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                              3 September, 2019

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: New winners and the bets are on

Racing Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) got underway late today as race officials waited for the light south-easterly wind to fill in, and when it arrived shortly before 12.30pm it was a magic day’s sail, the breeze peaking at 14 knots, but averaging 8-10 knots.

While the heavier boats would love to see more breeze, the lightweights are revelling in the light airs dished up this week.

TYC Rear Commodore, Tony Muller and his wife Selena, pulled off their first win today in Division 3 with Brava. “We couldn’t have sailed better today – we won our first Yellow Hat,” he said.

“The race started out light, but when we got to the bottom mark it reached 12 knots, and 14 for a minute - it only lasted an hour or so, but it was enough – down a very shy kite run,” Muller ended, enjoying a few celebratory drinks with the crew aboard his Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409 .

Division 3 is presently led by Eddie Mackevicius’ Merlion from Victoria, but only by two points to two other Queenslanders; Daniel McSweeney’s Brigus and Paul and Angela Woodma’s Summer Wind. Tomorrow’s final race will be telling.

A couple of doors down on It’s Time, notable Mooloolaba yachtsman, ‘Sir’ Robbo Robertson, was comparing his older narrow boats to the wide stern on the new Bavaria C45 Ambition: “Big arses are in – it’s the fashion,” Robbo said with his trademark grin.

“We didn’t do so well today. We’re no longer in the lead with the other two – I think we’re fourth if we’re lucky.” He’s actually third overall, despite finishing 11th in Race 4.

With his usual humour, Robbo maintained: “The handicapper considers we are a sports car, but in fact we’re a horse and dray! Today was only the 10th time we’ve sailed the boat, so we’re still in training.

“The boys and girls are sailing well,” he added, “but we’re also here to enjoy ourselves and the boat – which is for sale, by the way. It’s a good regatta this one,” he ended.

Ian Edwards has retained the Division 2 lead with Wings (NSW), while Peter Lowndes and his Wine Dark Sea are just two points behind; the latter gunning for an overall win in 2019.  I disappointedly missed Wine Dark Sea’s song time today, so I was chuffed when they gave me a verse of Queen’s Scaramouche as I passed by.

Down on the next marina is Star Ferry, a well-performed IOR boat of yesteryear when owned by John Conroy in Sydney. Owner of nearly 20 years, John Brand, found her in a poor state, but bought and restored the 39 footer to her former glory. She looks just as I remember her from the eighties and nineties - a lovely blast from the past.

“I kept her in her IOR format,” Brand commented late this afternoon. We race it regularly and this is our third time to Magnetic Island Race Week. It’s a fun regatta; we did pretty well last year, but not this year. Today was a bit of a bugger – we probably chose the wrong sails. We always have a different crew on board and keep the boat in the Whitsundays,” the Queenslander said.

Down on Charles Weatherly’s elegant Jeanneau 509, Smooth Operator (Vic), I found Derek and Nicole Sheppard from Sydney had stowed away. The couple was supposed to be here sailing Black Sheep (yep, the Sheppards have a sense of humour) but broke their keel at the earlier Hamilton Island Race Week. “We were pushing it too hard,” Derek confided.

“It’s fantastic here – we’re really enjoying the week – our first time here,” he said. “It’s even better than we expected. It worked out well; the Ballarat farmer (Weatherly) picked us up, so we’re happy,” he said sitting undercover on deck with a drink in hand.

Nicole added: “We’ve been match racing Verve and Fuzzy Logic. We are two line honours for two with Verve, so it’s on tomorrow with them. Smooth Operator is going to drink Verve…”

Smooth Operator is also in position to win the Non-Spinnaker division overall, currently three points ahead of Bill Munro’s Centinela (Qld) and Brad Hancock’s Le Tardis from Western Australia.

PRO, Denis Thompson reminded crews that Sarah Goodard-Jones Trophy nominations close tomorrow morning before sailing. Competitors have been asked to nominate worthy recipients. The first ever awardee will be announced at the official prize giving tomorrow evening.

Racing concludes at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week with one final race tomorrow, starting from 11am.

For all information and full results:

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                              3 September, 2019

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Around the Island for some – bay race for others

The clearest morning yet at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), but sailing conditions are a little light on in Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) signature event, which is in its fourth Day, excluding the lay day.

Conditions are not looking favourable for the Around the Island Race, which everyone looks forward to. Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson said, “Conditions will be similar to past days, but a touch lighter,” 5-10 knots has been the average.

Bearing that in mind, Thompson plans to send Divisions 1 and 2 around Magnetic Island, as planned, but give all other divisions a bay race that can be shortened if necessary. He is here assisted by a regular team of volunteers both on and off the water, including the race jury. This event could not be run without them.

“The intention is to display the postponement flag ashore at 1000hours for all divisions,” Thompson said, meaning racing will not start at the standard time of 1100hours.

This will not disappoint some. Skippers attended a cocktail party at Townsville Yacht Club last evening, while their crews attended the Crew Party back at Peppers resort. Many claimed to be “a bit dusty,” this morning, so they will now have extra time to get themselves into racing shape.

As is usual when races are delayed, yachties will relax at Peppers over a coffee catching up with mates, some will have a swim, others prefer to sit on their boats and chat or play chess, or read a newspaper. Why so relaxed? Competitors know at the drop of the AP their boats are only a one to three minute walk away and the start line a five minute motor.

And these are just some of the many elements that make SeaLink Magnetic Island the special event it is.

For all information and full results:

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

2 September, 2019

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Competition and fun factor ramp up   

Racing was delayed for an hour as officials waited for a light 5 knot breeze to fill in on Day 3 of Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW); and finally, all but Division 1 yachts were on their way in the White Rock Race.

Once the other classes were clear, Division 1 boats started the first of their two short races.

As the bulk of the fleet set shy kites halfway to the first mark, most chose to hug the Island’s coast. Barry Waugh took it to a new level, shaving the rocky shoreline on Kite Runner (NSW), tacking out in the nick of time each time.

“Blame it on Ian Ford, a cunning old man on board. He called it,” said Waugh, who is racing in Division 3. “We gained half a knot from hugging the shore. He knew how much water was under us, so we trusted him. We were a bit nervous though, because we chartered the yacht.”

Waugh said the most breeze they saw today was 9 knots. He has returned to Maggie Island, he said, “because the sailing’s great, the weather’s good and it’s laid back.”

In the Multihull class, Dennis Coleman, owner of Mistress, was regretting trading his son Nathan for a bag of lollies at this event last year. “In the end, we needed him more than the lollies, which is why we kept him this year.”

Just three sail the Corsair Sprint Mk1, but do so fairly successfully and are fourth overall after today – the top two are on equal points, as are third and fourth. “We’ve been to every Magnetic Island Race Week - on different boats. We keep coming back because we love it so much – it’s the Maggie spirit,” Coleman, from Townsville, said.

“I wish I’d got into sailing earlier. I didn’t start until I was 45; I’m 58 now and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Mistress broke the start today. “We were being aggressive,” said Scott McInerney. “I had a feeling it might happen, so I started in such a way that we could return and re-cross quickly.

“The racing here is so good; Denis (Thompson, the PRO) makes it so easy for everyone to know what’s going on. He is a real professional and makes sure we all know what’s happening.”

Hughie Lewis, a Tasmanian who is racing David Currie’s Farr 40, Ponyo, in Division 1, also acknowledged Thompson’s professionalism. “Too often people complain about things, like their handicap, we forget to praise. Denis is a class act. He makes it so easy. Everyone gets clear and concise details on the water every day.” 

Division 1 did two short races today, “one that had a bit of everything and then a windward/leeward,” Lewis said.

“We got good starts in both races; better than yesterday when we started too early,” he said laughing. “We got clear of Highly Sprung (Andrew Pearson/Adam Brown), but on the last bit of the work back to the finish, they caught us up a bit in some pressure on the shore. We took line honours, but I think they got us overall.” They didn’t; Lewis was second, her adversary third.

“The second race we led from start to finish, so I hope we did alright out of that,” the Tasmanian said. Ponyo was fifth in that race, and takes the Division 1 lead from Highly Sprung (NSW), and Tim Campbell’s Private Equity (Vic). Campbell, the son of eminent Tasmanian sailing journalist, Peter Campbell, won Race 4 today. But for an 11th in Race 3, he would have retained the Division l lead.   

Meanwhile, Wine Dark Sea entertains competitors with a famous song every day. Today it was Tom Jones’ Delilah. While the voices leave a bit to be desired, the theatrics, led by skipper, Peter Lowndes, are impressive – a glass of champagne in each crew member’s hands. Fortunately, you could hear the distinct tones of Jones through the crew’s singing.

In spite of their post-race antics, Lowndes (NSW) is determined to win Division 2, having finished bridesmaid the last two times he was here. It’s become a pot boiler, with the top three boats on seven points apiece – and all are equally ambitious, including Lowndes.

Currently ‘Sir’ Robbo Robertson has moved into the lead with It’s Time. The Queenslander is ever competitive with a take no prisoners approach. Ian Edwards (NSW) with Wings is the other.  He is sitting pretty in second having finished second in Race 3. Lowndes is third. 

Racing continues at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week tomorrow from 11am.

For all information and full results:

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                              2 September, 2019

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Lay Day over – racing back on the agenda

Father’s Day lay day is over and the on-water battles resume today at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) with racing on the bay off Townsville to start from 11am this morning.

Yesterday competitors enjoyed the Rotary Beer Can Regatta, where some of the entries were quite sophisticated, and the mud crab races and other activities, including lunch at the Island’s hot spots to celebrate Father’s Day.

Back to racing, Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson is sending all but Division 1 on a race to White Rock return, while he will set short races for Division 1.

“The wind may be a little lighter than it was the first two days, but we should get away on time and we’re expecting a sea breeze this afternoon,” said Thompson, whose years on the job Australia wide have given him an excellent nose for the weather.

“We planned the races this way so the entire fleet should be heading to the finish under spinnaker,” which means spectators will again enjoy a mass of colour as the fleet heads back to the finish and Magnetic Island on Day 3 of Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) unique regatta. “It’s all straightforward and all good sailing,” Thompson ended.

Heading into Day 3, Tim Campbell’s Private Equity (Vic) is leading the local, Leon Thomas’ Guilty Pleasures VIII and the Andrew Pearson/Adam Brown combo on Highly Sprung (NSW) for the Division 1 spoils.

In Division 2, Peter Lowndes’ Wine Dark Sea (NSW) has so far fended off Ian Edwards’ Wings (NSW) and two-time winner here, the wily Sir Robbo Robertson (Qld) and his new Bavaria C45, It’s Time; one point between each. Whether Lowndes can lose the bridesmaid tag this year remains to be seen.

Newcomer to SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, John Chipp and his Hot Chipps (Vic) have surprised Division 3 contenders with their early lead. It is rumoured they are being helped by the local seagulls who have been bribed with chips.  The handicapper may have to look into this advantage… John Brand’s Star Ferry (Qld) is five points off the lead, with Eddie Mackevicius Merlion (Vic) a further point in arrears.

Division 4 is an all- Queensland show led by Michael Unwin’s Fuzzy Logic on countback to Rod Finucane’s Fenina. Day 1 winner, Donna Dewhurst’s Soul Sister, is third. Lance Denby’s Ostara (Qld)   has the upper hand in the Non-Spinnaker division, leading Brad Hancock’s Le Tardis (WA) by two points, with Charles Weatherly’s Smooth Operator (Vic) sitting in third.

The pointscore is tight in the Multihulls. Currently, Ian Johnson’s Salacia leads fellow Townsville YC member, Graeme Etherton and his The Boat and Kevin Lord’s Vivacious (NSW) – just one point between each.

For all information:

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                 31 August, 2019

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Division 4’s competition within a competition  

Day 2 started much the same as yesterday, except the light breeze came in on cue; Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson, able to proceed with racing on time from 11am at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, held off Townsville in Far Northern Queensland.

There was some early argy barby in Division 1, with individual recalls putting manners back in place in Race 2 of Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) major annual sailing event. One boat (no names mentioned) was called three times before it finally returned to the start line. Costly.

From there, it was a downwind leg to a mark off the Strand in the Strand race, which took the entire fleet to a mark near the foreshore of Townsville.

Locals and visitors to the region were able to see the boats. Most were carrying spinnakers, making a kaleidoscope of colour. Little zephyrs of breeze filtered through every now and again, but not enough to make any real impact on that leg.

Rounding the mark became a little tricky for those racing together in small packs. Effarrvescent, a North Queensland Farr 11.6 owned by Lyndon Borgas, was caught in a yacht sandwich. She stalled, then started to drift backwards. A quick smooch and a light kiss with one neighbour,  and Effarrvescent went merrily on her way again.

Others had close calls. On Brian Yarnall’s Mika (Vic), communication was not up to scratch; her white kite taking a dunking before pairs of hands set to work pulling it in. It’s all in a day’s sailing and gives boaties something to talk about over a drink later. Scotty Hiller and the drone crew catch all the action and show it at the daily prizegivings amid comments and laughter.    

A short while after rounding the Strand mark, the breeze filled in nicely as the fleet sailed up the work towards Magnetic Island. 

In the hotly contested Division 4, there are competitions within competitions between the 16 entries, for both line and overall honours. Warrigal’s (owned by James Finch – a local) chances were gone when her kite shredded.

It is on every day between the four Farr 1104’s and three are TYC members: Son of a Son (Peter Webster), Vaya Con Dios (Wayne Simonsen) and Akarana (Vicki Hamilton) along with Whitsundays boat, Infarrction (Carol Roberts). Drinks go to the winning Farr each day.

Akarana’s crew as enjoying the spoils today, having beaten the others over the line. ”The drinks are on them,” she said. “Yesterday we did a Steven Bradbury when the others went round the wrong mark.”

This morning, the ladies, plus a token male, dressed in theme as they do each year. This year it was ‘Heaven and Hell’, with fallen angels, goddesses, demons and a devil – complete with black leotard, red horns and a tail. They help make the event what it is.

On It’s Magic, Peter Sarda and his Cavalier 37 crew from Apollo Bay in Victoria are relishing their first SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: “Each year we cruise up the east coast and friends said if we were going to do the regatta, this is the one we should do. They were right,” Sarda said. “We’re enjoying ourselves; the friendly people and all the fun. We haven’t been let down so far.”

Sarda said they had “a fantastic day. We had a good sail with a great finish with Unhinged (Vaughn Thompson’s local Hunter Legend design). We chased them down and came within a boat length or so, but just couldn’t quite sail through them. It made our day, though.”

Another local boat in Division 4 is Lynda Sawbridge’s Helena May. Being local, the Bavaria 38 is a regular at this event and it’s one they are happy to support.

“It’s a very good regatta,” Sawbridge commented. “We had just enough breeze (12-14 knots) to get us around the course today. We’ve got a lot of gun boats in our division and the one we like to beat is Celebrity (Wayne McNee’s Swarbrick S111 from RANSA in Sydney).

“They were around half a boat length in front of us at the Cleveland mark today and because we were faster getting our kite up, we beat them home. Yesterday Vaya Con Dios beat us over the line by four seconds. We’re having a great tussle and I’m sure it will continue,” she ended.

Tomorrow is lay day, so racing continues at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week on Monday from 11am. The event finishes on 4 September with boats racing across Spinnaker, Non-Spinnaker and Multihull classes.

For all information:

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                 31 August, 2019

Day 2 dawns and crews prepare SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

Day 2 has dawned bright and clear at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) and already the gauntlet is being thrown down in some divisions where bets are on for the yachties’ favourite tipple - rum and coke - and champagne, which have fast become de riguer at this very social event. 

Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) Race 2, the Townsville City Council Race Day, is the Strand Race, which takes boats close in to Townsville, giving lunchtime locals and tourists alike an opportunity of experiencing the event first hand in weather similar to yesterday.

Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson, said, “It will be a spinnaker run to the mark off the Strand,” making it visually colourful for those on land. “Then it will be a zig zag course home; a few more marks to round than yesterday, making it interesting.”

Hughie Lewis, skipper of the Farr 40 Ponyo, has a few fellow Tasmanian’s in tow to crew the boat owned by Victorian, David Currie. Sailing in Spinnaker Division 1, Ponyo spent most of the race chasing the Andrew Pearson/Adam Brown chartered Beneteau First 45, Highly Sprung.

However, Lewis said this morning, “We finally mowed them down on the way to the finish. It was a great day and race; we’re looking forward to more of the same today, but we’d like to be in front of the Beneteau today.”  

Racing at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week is due to get underway from 11am this morning ahead of tomorrow’s lay day, which also doubles as Father’s Day.

Some of the delights of lay day include: Father’s Day at Picnic Bay, including free kids activities, along with food and entertainment at Picnic Bay Hotel  (9am-5pm); Artisan markets and food stalls (9am-2pm);  On the Water activities (we believe the Pier Jump is on again); Rotary Magnetic Island Beer Can Regatta (from 10.30am); Beach Retreat at Picnic Bay Surf Club (from 10am); Mud crab races (2.30pm); Fundraising barbecue and the band, Godfathers of Funk (12 noon to 5pm). 

It’s all fun and everyone is welcome, but tonight after racing, competitors and friends will be entertained by soloist, Craig Phelps, at Peppers Race Headquarters.

For all information:

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                 30 August, 2019

Regulars and newbies agree it was a magic day at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

A number of newcomers joined the multitude of repeat offenders for the opening day of Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), and although competitors waited for over an hour for the breeze to fill in, when it did, competitors agreed it was superb afternoon of racing.

PRO Denis Thompson kept competitors updated and sure enough, shortly after midday, news came through that the breeze had filled in at 5 knots and racing was underway, the course shortened to reflect the late start.

New South Welshman Peter Lowndes is a regular here with his Wine Dark Sea. This year is different though. Lowndes’ partner in life and in the boat, Sarah Goddard-Jones, tragically passed away in June this year following a diving accident on the northern NSW coast. She would normally be at Magnetic Island with him, enjoying he five minute wind he and a mostly regular crew notched up in Division 2 today.

“The crew entry for this regatta was a six pack of French champagne in Sarah’s name,” Lowndes said this afternoon, apologising for his emotions which are always close to the surface. It seems perfectly fitting, as Goddard- Jones had a bubbly personality and the two loved sailing and cruising together.

“We have a new sabre to open the Moet,” he said, pointing to the shining silver sabre as a crew member demonstrated its use.

“We won the race by five minutes when the handicap was applied. It’s all in tribute to Sarah – and I have donated a trophy in her name too – it will reflect sportsmanship and good seamanship,” Lowndes ended after beating offshore racing veteran, ‘Sir’ Robbo Robertson to the punch for the win.

Robertson turns 80 in December, but as the old saying goes, you can’t keep an old sea dog down and so the Queenslander is here to try and add a third Maggie Island title trophy to his cabinet. He was wearing an ear to ear grin this afternoon having sailed his ‘It’s Time’ to second place.

Aboard Blue Water Tracks, their beautiful Moody 54DS, husband and wife team, Grant and Delma Dunoon from Victoria were pleased to get away from their cold local weather to take part in their first Magnetic Island Race Week.

“We first took the opportunity to be at the BBQ at Cape Upstart,” Delma said. “We thought, ‘oh well, another barby’, but it was anything but. It was so special and they went to so much trouble – even down to the fairy lights on the tables.

“The food was fantastic – the Barra (Barramundi) on the beach was the highlight for me. It was an unforgettable experience.”

Grant added: “We loved meeting people and introducing others, the quiet music and the bonfires.”

The pair is racing in the Non-Spinnaker division; a white chesterfield couch taking pride of place at the back end of their boat. “It’s our interview couch,” explained Grant, who with experienced sailor, Sue Bumstead, took on the 5500 nautical mile Melbourne Osaka Yacht Race last year and will add another Sydney Hobart to his credit this year 

On being at Maggie Island and partaking of all it has to offer, Grant commented: “We arrived at the Island after Cape Upstart, spent the day at Horseshoe Bay. We had a short race today, but it was a good race. We didn’t win, as it was too light for us, but we came here to relax, not so much to win.” They finished sixth from eight in the division that was won by Lance Denby’s Ostara.

The pair is staying on board Blue Water Tracks, calling it, “our five star accommodation.” And it really is.

The last word goes to Mal Pirret, Event Chairman from TYC and owner/skipper of the well-named ‘Champagne’, which is racing in Division 3, won today by Ian White’s Kite from Lake Macquarie in NSW.

Pirret, who finished sixth from 18 entries, said of the day: “We expected the breeze to come in and build. It got up to 13 knots going to the top mark after being a bit light on at the start. 

“We got gassed at the start and then kept away from the rest of the fleet. We had a good run though. Merlion (Eddie Mackevicius, Vic) went around the mark in front of us, with Popeye (Craig Douglas, NSW) just behind. It was a close finish between the three of us and a beautiful day on the water,” he said after the fleet set spinnakers for the run home.

Racing continues at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week tomorrow and is due to get underway from 11am. The event finishes on 4 September with boats racing across IRC Racing, Spinnaker, Non-Spinnaker, Multihull and Trailable Yacht classes.

For all information:

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                 30 August, 2019

The party has already started at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week

It is only Day 1 and the parties have already started at Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) renowned SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), with the Cape Upstart barbecue kicking off proceedings two days in advance and the welcome party held at Peppers Resort last evening.

Nothing like a party to kick start this fun regatta, surprising newcomers, including US sailing photographer, Mary Longpre, who commented last evening: “Wow, you Australians sure know how to party – and before the racing starts – we don’t see that at home.”

Julie Hodder, a well-known navigator from Sydney who is sailing on Popeye, attended her first Cape Upstart Party started already before we got to Magnetic Island,” she said. 

“The Race Week and residents of Cape Upstart put on a BBQ for those on their way to Magnetic Island. The barramundi and locally caught prawns were a hit with me. But there was also lots of meat. For $15, they put on an amazing BBQ, topped off with country style homemade dessert and cakes.

“Only way to get to Cape Upstart is by boat and there are about 130 freehold places on the edge of an extensive National Park. It is just amazing experiencing such wonderful out of the way places and meeting up with the locals,” Hodder ended.

Last evening at Peppers, our MC, Scotty ‘Tell All’ Hillier, took to the stage, and welcomed world renowned navigator and local Townsville identity, Will Oxley, to the stage. Oxley gave the record fleet a blow by blow account of what to expect weatherwise this week. PRO Denis Thompson also welcomed competitors, giving them details of the week to come.

Shortly after, the entertainment began and went on into the night. That is how it will be every night here at ‘Maggie Island’; lots of fun mixed in with racing – all within a stone’s throw of Pepper’s accommodation. This is a unique event, unlikely to be replicated anywhere in the world. 

Racing at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week is due to get underway from 11am this morning and takes place from 30 August to 4 September with boats racing across IRC Racing, Spinnaker, Non-Spinnaker, Multihull and Trailable Yacht classes. Lay Day is Sunday where all can enjoy Father’s Day and all it offers. Stay tuned…

For all information:

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                 7 August, 2019

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week entries reach capacity

Organisers from Townsville Yacht Club (TYC) are thrilled to announce that entries for SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) have reached capacity before the event’s closing date; with more than a dozen boats waitlisted should space become available at ‘Maggie Island’.

“Apart from all available berths now filled at Magnetic Island, so we’ve also attracted a record 80 attendees for the Cape Upstart stopover barbecue, as word spreads about both events,” says Event Chairman and TYC Director, Mal Pirret.

“Our event has also attracted new sponsors, in addition to our longstanding event partners, as it grows in stature,” adds Pirret, who also competes with his Beneteau Oceanis 45, ‘Champagne’.

“Suncity Powersports is supplying jet skis for use by our course marshals; SOS Seafood, which is providing mud crabs to be raced at the Beach Retreat; Air North, which is generously donating our overall division winners’ prizes of return flights of choice to Air North destinations from Townsville; Honeycombes Property Group and Townsville Helicopters – ensuring our photographer, Andrea Francolini, gets the best images possible.”

The new sponsors will co-exist nicely with the stalwarts, including naming rights sponsor, SeaLink, and major supporters, Tourism and Events Queensland and Townsville City Council, both proud to show the great destination the region is.

Now in its ‘lucky 13th’ year, SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week combines all the best ingredients to come up with and irresistible regatta with entries coming from every Australian state. In 2019, the Spinnaker class has proved the most popular class with 57 entered, including a few newcomers. Among them is the little NSW Army boat, Gun Runner, a Jarkan 925 entered by Kev O’Rourke.

Gun Runner won the Corinthian division in the 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart. Her crew is looking to put in some hard training at Magnetic Island ahead of the 75th running of the 628 nautical mile race. The 9.2m boat will be joined by the likes of Brigus, Daniel McSweeney’s Beneteau First 35, which will make her racing debut at Maggie Island.

Another yacht of interest and new to the regatta is Ragamuffin 3, Stuart Tivey’s entry from Port Douglas. The German Frers designed 48 footer was the third Ragamuffin Syd Fischer commissioned for his offshore exploits. Built in 1975, Fischer missed the Sydney Hobart that year, but took her to third overall the following year and second from 131 entries in 1977.

Tivey says: “Big Mama Sailing purchased the boat in February 2019 in not such good condition. We have since restored her to be able to sail again.”

The trio of boats will take on some old hands, such as ‘Sir’ Robbo Robertson. A competitive and widely-known ocean racer from Queensland, ‘Sir Robbo’ will practice celebrating his December 11 80th birthday by reappearing at Race Week with his new Bavaria C45 named It’s Time’.

“I’ve raced at Magnetic Island twice before and won both times. The last time was 2012 with Bravo when I won every race,” he recalls.

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week will be held from 29 August to 4 September with boats racing across IRC Racing, Spinnaker, Non-Spinnaker, Multihull and Trailable Yacht classes.

For all information:

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                  19 June, 2019

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week après Cape Upstart

It started nearly four years ago pre-SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), and its quickly becoming an institution with competitors, whose first questions to Townsville Yacht Club (TYC) organisers include, “Is Cape Upstart on again?”

Blame it all on a past competitor, Jason Antill. “He infected me with a great idea,” says Mike Steel, the former SMIRW Event Chairman and competitor from TYC.

The idea was that sailors heading north for the last of the northern circuit regattas could get together in a relaxed fashion; catch up with friends and meet new people before the main event. This year, it will be held on Tuesday 27 August, two days before racing starts, giving entrants a day to recover!

Named by Lieutenant James Cook, on 5 June 1770 during his voyage along the eastern coast of Australia on the HM Bark Endeavour, competitors love Cape Upstart, not to mention the barbecue with fellow competitors. Accessible by water only, yachties can row ashore or be ferried by Townsville Yacht Club officials.

Richard and Karen Bonato are the hosts at Cape Upstart, a national park in the locality of Guthalungra in the Whistundays where the Juru Clan of the Birri-Gubba Tribal Group lived for thousands of years.

For the last three years, just before SMIRW, the Bonatos have opened their home to welcome yachties, thrilled to share this piece of paradise.

“We know Mike (Steel) and he asked us what we thought about having a barbie for the yachties. We don’t get to see him much, so we thought it was probably not a bad idea. It’s a rare chance to see him,” says Richard Bonato laughing.

“Really, we enjoy doing it. We get to meet people we’d never usually meet. The yachties seem very appreciative too. It’s a great gathering of people who enjoy to sit around and have a feed and talk. There’s a lot of interaction. We welcome anyone who wants, to come to the house for a shower while they’re there too, as not everyone has a shower on their boat. 

“It’s our holiday house, where we go fishing, swim and go on the boat. It’s a great place for kids. Our kids grew up holidaying there and now our grand kids enjoy it,” he ends.

All supplies have to be brought over from the mainland, so while the Bonatos provide the venue, Marty Phillips supplies fresh as fresh Barramundi for the barbecue via Infinity Blue Barramundi in Northern Queensland.

“Fish don’t get blown over by cyclones,” Phillips says of his change years ago from land farming to the Barramundi farm.

“To be a farmer in this part of the world you have to be an environmentalist. We’ve got pristine areas on either side of us; the Great Barrier Reef and the World Heritage rainforest, so we have to do the right thing.” See more at:

Grown in salt water, Phillips says, “In the past I’ve donated around 20 kilos of Barramundi each year for the barbecue. My business has merged now, so I will supply fish at cost this year. I package it up fresh, get it to Townsville and they pick up,” he says of the sustainably produced fish.

The Northern Queensland fish farmer admits, “I’ve never been to the Cape Upstart stopover barbecue, but I’d love to one year, because I hear it’s such a raging success and I’d like to be part of it. I’m still waiting for Mike to invite me…”  

Mark Chew, a past competitor from Victoria, endorses this popular event. “It is a wonderful night with a big fire on the beach and a good way to socialise with fellow sailors before the event. It is a really beautiful gesture,” he says of the memorable evening that combines convivial company, a seafood BBQ and a few drinks set in one of Queensland natural beauty spots.  

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week will be held from 29 August to 4 September and only a handful of berths remain. If you plan to enter, do it right now. Choose from IRC Racing, Spinnaker, Non-Spinnaker, Multihull and Trailable Yacht classes. And don’t forget to book for the Cape Upstart barbecue when you enter:

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

15 May, 2019

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Hot Chipps and sauce anyone?

When Victorian John Chipp and his Beneteau Oceanis 411 crew arrive for their maiden SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week at the end of August, they will be right at home with the other fun-loving entries that have come to define Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) annual regatta, to be held this year from 29 August to 4 September.

Chipp, from Sandringham Yacht Club, will arrive with “a mix of girls and guys, including my wife Christine, my son Patrick and our mascot Salty,” on the creatively named ‘Hot Chipps’. “Salty is an old seadog who has lost his way. Very sad,” Chipp says with merriment.

“This is our first time at the Island; I thought it was time to bring our boat up north and we’re very excited about the regatta. We’ve just sailed the boat up to Sydney; the seagull has landed,” he remarks, offering up sauce to go with the hot chips.

“Sydney is one of six legs. We want to enjoy it all,” explains Chipp, whose stopovers with five people per leg, are: Pittwater, Newcastle, Gold Coast, Gladstone, Airlie Beach and finally Magnetic Island. “It’s a two and a half month cruise.

“I was looking for something a bit more casual and relaxed. We heard about Magnetic Island and are really looking forward to it after an intense racing program beforehand. It will be a lovely to do and a lot of fun,” Chipp comments.

On a more serious note, Chipp is the son of prominent politician, Don Chipp AO (he passed away in 2006), who famously left the Liberal party after Malcolm Fraser became Prime Minister of Australia in 1975. Chipp senior helped create the Australian Democrats and became their inaugural leader in 1977, famously promising to “keep the bastards honest”.

Entries are on the rise for the 13th SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW). Townsville Yacht Club organisers do not want to see anyone left disappointed, so urge prospective competitors to go online and enter now. 

“We have over 40 entries already; over half of capacity berthing at the Island, Event Chairman and TYC Director, Mal Pirret, says of the 2019 event.

“As a bonus to entering now, competitors can also take advantage of the discounted accommodation from Peppers Resort and go into the draw to win the Peppers package for next year.”

To qualify, entries must be received and paid for by close of business on 31 May, to receive multiple entries into the draw. The prize is an Early Bird package of seven nights’ accommodation in a three bedroom apartment at the stunning Peppers Blue on Blue Resort (SMIRWs exclusive accommodation partner) and free berthing for the event at Magnetic Island Marina, to be used in 2020.

Don’t let the recent floods in the region put you off either. Pirret explains: “Townsville is resilient. Work is being undertaken in those areas hit by floods. Magnetic Island has been essentially unaffected and we at Townsville Yacht Club can’t wait for SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week to start.

“The Island is in great shape; and we are ready to go. The bays are as beautiful as ever, people are enjoying cruising here. It’s all as good as everyone remembers,” he ended.

The SeaLink Spinnaker class is leading the charge by a long way in terms of numbers, with 34 already entered; representing Queensland, Victoria and NSW. Entries in the other classes are travelling from as far away as Western Australia.   

For some locals, there will be a competition within the competition. Vicki Hamilton, a TYC regular at the helm of her father Ian Hamilton’s Akarana, will keeping tabs on newcomer, Vaya Con Dios (translates to ‘go with God), recently purchased by Wayne Simonsen. Why? Because both are sailing same-design Farr 1104s. 

The two skippers have already had a couple of side bets during the TYC racing season, so at Maggie Island, things will be no different:  “Akarana always plans to be competitive at Race Week, but we also like to make it fun for everyone," Hamilton remarked. "Besides, what’s a magnum of champagne between friends?”

Victoria has its regulars too, including Greg Snowball’s Dream Catcher III, an elegant Swan 60 and Andrew McGrath’s Beneteau Sense 55, Silver Lining.  

Prospective entrants can choose from the IRC Racing, SeaLink Spinnaker, SeaLink Non-Spinnaker, Multihull and Trailable Yacht classes. And as those who have been before will tell you, you don’t want to miss this special event. Enter now and don’t forget to book for the Cape Upstart barbecue preceding the main event:

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 2019. Phone: (07) 4758 2400 or email [email protected]

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

6 March, 2019

2019 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week entries open with a bang

In times of adversity you find out who your real friends are, and so it is with Townsville Yacht Club’s SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, with fervent supporter Andrew Pearson not only entering a crew, but encouraging others from his hometown Sydney to join in this one-of-a-kind regatta to be held from 29 August to 4 September.

Entries have only just opened and the Sydney yachtsman continues to work hard to encourage others along too: “They’ve been through a terrible time in Townsville with the floods, so I want to give back to this wonderful event,” said Pearson who has raced at the event four times before.

“It’s a big push, but we’re going to support it,” said the yachtie friends call ‘Banker’. He will arrive at Magnetic Island with Mark Spring and his beautifully named Beneteau First 45, Highly Sprung (one of Paul Clitheroe’s former Balance’s); winner of the 2019 Pittwater Paradise Race.

The boat, entered in the SeaLink Spinnaker class, will be crewed by some of Highly Sprung’s regulars and some of Pearson’s CYCA mates, “who have been dying to do it,” he said. “By September, winter’s been in full swing and we won’t be able to wait to get to Magnetic Island for the first major regatta of spring.”

The Middle Harbour Yacht Club member has enticed others from his club to come along for the ride too.  

“Laurie McAllister is bringing Zeus II (Jim Dunstan won the 1981 Sydney Hobart with this Currawong 30) with a mix of male and female crew. Rob Reynolds and Shaun Lane (prominent yachtsmen) are looking for a boat to charter up there – maybe a boat that’s just done Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island that doesn’t have the crew to continue on,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest at this end.”

Like the rest of us, the marine businessman also enjoys the social side:  It’s a day’s sail up from the other northern regattas with the Cape Upstart barbecue at the end of it – it’s so sociable – so I hope it’s on again. It’s a wonderful way to start the regatta off,” he said. “I’m just hoping they revive the mud crab racing – everyone talks about how much fun that was.” 

“Yes, by popular demand, Cape Upstart is on again,” confirms Mal Pirret, a director of Townsville Yacht Club and the regatta’s new Event Chairman.  

Pearson continued: “Magnetic Island is a great relaxer before getting serious back home in the lead-up to the Sydney Hobart. Warm people, warm climate and it’s very convenient with accommodation, food and beverages and racing on the doorstep.”

Knowing how quickly the Island’s berths fill up, Highly Sprung and her clubs mates are not the only ones quick off the mark to enter. Fifteen others, representing Queensland, NSW and Victoria have signed up.

Regulars, Little Miss Sunshine from Victoria (Sam Pavic’s Beneteau Sense 50) returns, as does Peter Lowndes’ Lyons 49, Wine-Dark Sea from NSW.

Among the TYC locals are Tony and Selena Muller with their Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409, Brava. Mal and Sylvia Pirret are also entering their Beneteau Oceanis 45, Champagne. The two men are directors of the Club and regularly support this regatta.

With his Event Chairman hat on, Pirret says, “Early Bird entrants receive multiple entries into the draw for the chance to win our fantastic Early Bird prize package of seven nights’ accommodation in a three bedroom apartment at the stunning Peppers Blue on Blue Resort (SMIRWs exclusive accommodation partner) and free berthing for the event at Magnetic Island Marina in 2020.”

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 31 May 2019. Phone: (07) 4758 2400 or email [email protected]

As is usual, berthing is at a premium, so entering now will avoid disappointment.

Prospective entrants can choose from the SeaLink Spinnaker, SeaLink Non-Spinnaker and Multihull classes. And as those who have been before will tell you, you don’t want to miss this special event; enter now:

By Di Pearson, SMIRW media

28 February, 2019

Townsville Yacht Club - Racing Season Kick off

Local yachties have dusted off their deck shoes and will be gearing up and getting their yachts out on the beautiful Cleveland Bay this weekend to start practicing and honing their techniques for this year’s iconic and fun Magnetic Island Race Week.  

The opening of the racing season coincides with the opening of Registration for the 13th Annual SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week.

Each year, Townsville and other Queensland sailors flock to SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week because Magnetic Island lies in their back yard. However, over half the fleet sails long distances to participate – from New Zealand and Australia wide, and they come to enjoy something unique.

Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) annual regatta has special ingredients that lures Olympians, Sydney to Hobart winners, America’s Cup sailors, along with a varied range of racers & cruisers, all with the aim to race and have a good time with family and friends.

This Friday the 1st March sees the opening of the Early Bird Registrations for this fun regatta. The Notice of Race and details of the event can be found on our website. 

Early Bird Entrants receive multiple entries into the draw for the chance to win our fantastic Early Bird Prize package of 7 nights accommodation in a 3 bedroom apartment at the stunning Peppers Blue on Blue Resort and free berthing for the event at Magnetic Island Marina for the following years event. 

With registrations at full capacity last year, you don’t want to miss out - start planning your trip today!  

Further information on SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week can be found at:

By Jodie Kennedy, Event Manager

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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