Magnetic Island Race Week - strong southern fleet for seventh event

Bob Steels Quest
The seventh annual SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week is just two weeks away, running from August 29th to September 3rd 2013, and it’s part of the expanded Sail Townsville which starts on August 23rd.

Right now two high profile competitors who are likely to figure in some major battles on Cleveland Bay are in top form at Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week 2013.

Townsville´s own Leon Thomas has a first and two seconds on line honours with Guilty Pleasure V, in the Sports Boat division, while dual Sydney Hobart winner Bob Steel has his Townsville bound 52 footer Quest the 2008 Hobart handicap winner at the front of the Grand Prix IRC fleet.

Today on the Airlie Beach lay day we caught up with both skippers.

Guilty Pleasure coming across the finish line SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 2012
Andrea Falvo SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 2012


Leon Thomas commented, ‘Looking at the Magnetic Island Race Week entry list, with entries still coming in, the IRC fleet is looking really good. There are two Beneteau First 40s, these are a very competitive design, that have won a lot of regattas and placed first and second in the Sydney to Hobart race and a Beneteau 44.7 and they are all hard to beat.

‘We have Quest, the TP52 with an amazing record.

Zoe start 2013 Hempel G2LHI - Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race 2013
Ash Evans

Representing Townsville we have Wayne Millar´s Sydney 41 Zoe who won the Gosford to Lord Howe race on handicap and has won at Magnetic. The Zoe crew are always fantastic competitors and we´ve a fair track record too (a modest understatement from another Magnetic winner) and with 12 months with our Sydney 38 Guilty Pleasures IV we are expecting to be quite competitive.

‘It will be wonderful to have Quest as a benchmark, because they do sail very well and they compete very well generally across the board at all the regattas and long races they sail.

‘The good thing about the international handicap system, IRC under which we will be racing at Magnetic Island Race Week, is that we all have an equal chance of winning if we sail well.

‘However in these waters local knowledge matters a lot and that levels the playing field a little and we are all looking forward to knocking off the top guns from down south.

‘But no matter what, it’s always a great regatta, a wonderful venue and great sailing conditions.’

Bob Steel, who is currently leading the Grand Prix IRC division at Airlie Beach with two strong wins on both handicap and line honours is looking forward to heading north.

‘After Airlie Beach Race Week, we are cruising up to Townsville and will then go across to Magnetic Island. I have been to Magnetic years ago in my travel industry days and am really looking forward to going back in a more relaxed role.

‘Magnetic Island Race Week, the southern owners that have done it have been telling me is fantastic, with great courses and wonderful views from the water back to the Islands. Looking forward to a great week there.’

ICHI BAN, Matt Allen catches the sunrise off Tasman Island - 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

The reputation of the event has certainly been spreading by word of mouth and today we heard that Matt Allen, a highly regarded Australian and Asian circuit winner who is building a new 60 footer, looking for a Hobart win, has been asking about Magnetic Island Race Week for 2014.

This year there are more boats coming from South Australia, Victorian, Tasmanian, NSW and southern Queensland than ever before. Clearly there are more and more southern boats looking for new north adventures and so the numbers of southern boats in both racing and cruising fleets will continue to grow.

For more information on the 2013 event go to www.magneticislandraceweek.com.au.