What a fantastic week of racing it's been. The 31st edition of Airlie Beach Race Week finished yesterday after six races in the picturesque Whitsunday Islands with a great mix of passage and windward/leeward racing under clear, sunny skies. The first two days were raced in light conditions with current and tide playing a big part. The last few days brought a fresh 15-20 knot breeze where the boats came alight and we got to enjoy some fast downwind sailing.
Zen raced in the IRC Passage Division created for the faster mono-hulls at the regatta. On the final day it came down to the last race to determine the overall winner. If we finished in front, we won - if Hooligan won the final race they would be declared the winner. In the end, they were just a little bit better on the day and they came away with the victory. Given the quality of the competition and the number of professional sailors racing, while we were disappointed we didn't get the ultimate prize, I was pretty happy with second place and look forward to another week of incredible racing at Hamilton Island next week on these amazing craft.
The TP52 class was started in 2001 in the US by owners who wanted to race a Grand Prix sailboat that is fun, safe and reliable, both inshore and offshore. The yachts are designed to be raced by both amateur and professional sailors and the class has grown steadily over the past 15 years. With the increasing number of registered TP52's in Australia the 75th edition of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race in December could see as many as 13 TP52's on the start line. It would be cool if I was lucky enough to be on one of them! Unlikely this year, but fingers crossed.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Gordon Ketelbey (the owner) for inviting me to sail on his awesome yacht, the whole Zen crew for a fantastic week and all those involved, particularly the horde of volunteers who arrive each year to help make this event the success it is. It's been a fantastic regatta and the weather has been amazing. I hope to get invited back next year to do it all again.
Stay tuned for Hamilton Island Race Week. It should be another incredible regatta and I can't wait to tell you all about it!