SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week - helping hand eases path to racing

Mike Steel’’s Boudicea, a Dufour 34, Racing Sunday SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 2012
Emma Kennedy SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 2012
The head of the Dufour family in Australia, Antill Marine’s Jason Antill, is a willing helper in introducing cruising boat owners to the experience of racing in fun regattas such as the SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, being held from 28th August to 2nd September 2014.

Antill promotes to his owners the Race Week as a great example of how an event can effectively incorporate both the high-end performance boats and the laid-back cruising crowd.

Race Week offers the cruising community the opportunity to participate in either Cruising Spinnaker or Cruising Non Spinnaker divisions. Both of these divisions are perfectly positioned to suit Antill’s clients who are looking to participate while not having to know the intimate detail of high-performance fleet racing. Both divisions offer pleasant passage races around Magnetic Island and criss-crossing Cleveland Bay.

'I am trying to get as many Dufours up there as possible. There are a lot of cruisers that go up and down the east coast and they are afraid to get involved in the racing. Sometimes it’s a bit too aggressive or perceived to be too aggressive, so they stay away from it.

'This year I think we will have three or four boats travelling north. They are ones that wouldn’t normally enter a race environment, but because I have been telling them it’s very casual and easy racing, they are all willing to give it a go.

'This is also a good way to help a new skipper learn to use their boat and about boat handling,' Antill said.

During the regatta Antill jumps from boat to boat coaching the skippers on just a few of the finer details of racing. When there are more boats than he can handle, he brings in his friends to help out. 'The regatta is cost effective and really not stressful. The length of the event is good, it’s not too long. People can easily fly in and hire a house. Last year we had six sailors with us, without boats.'

Sydney Dufour 405 owner, Nick Cable, enjoyed racing on Antill’s Race Week entry in the 2012. While he is still hesitant about bringing his own cruising boat up north to the regatta, he knows he can join Antill’s 2014 entry. 'The attraction of the Magnetic Island Race Week is the quiet and the low-key event. I think that is why the sailors enjoy going there, notwithstanding half the fleet is from Townsville. It’s pretty hard to beat those Townsville blokes,' Cable said.

Another Race Week starter is Pittwater’s Julian and Belinda Trebeck. After 30 years of racing they decided in 2011 to change direction, choosing to purchase their Dufour 375 GL, Tranquillity. This year they will take the boat north to the Barrier Reef and Magnetic Island.

They have done their research and all the feedback has indicated to them they will be warmly welcomed by the north Queenslanders as well as getting to sail in one of the most beautiful places in Australia and participate in some great parties.

'We have heard a lot about the advantages of Magnetic Island Race Week over and above the advantages of other well-known yachting events. We have heard the courses are more suited towards relaxed sailing and cruising yachts with long legs and pleasant, flat waters.

'Jason Antill and his team are preparing the boat for the trip north. We are confident every knot of speed that can be rung out of our boat will be extracted by Jason and his competent team.

'Just because it’s a cruising boat doesn’t mean we won’t be competitive and doesn’t mean we won’t be doing our very best to acquit ourselves well at Magnetic Island,' Trebeck said.

On the other side of the fence is local Dufour advocate, Townsville’s Mike Steel. He is a committed Race Week competitor and will be racing his 36 footer, Mack Trucks Boadicca, in the Performance Division. He has extensive racing experience, finally moving six years ago from a little Ross 780 into a Dufour 34 footer yacht and then recently into a 36 footer.

'The 36 footer is a bit more of a racer so I expect we should perform well with it. The boat’s got a wide stern and chines. It gets up and scoots along. It’s a different design and a lot more racing performance design in the hull.'

Steel will be warming up his team during the Airlie Beach Race Week before he heads back up to his home territory where the race courses are familiar, it’s just the new boat that he needs to get a handle on. If his team and boat do well at this year’s Race Week, he thinks there may be some other boat owners who will be looking to join the Dufour family. 'I know there are a couple of people considering the 36 so I reckon there will be a few people keeping an eye on it to see how it performs out there,' Steel said.

The Notice of Race and the online entry for the nine divisions is at www.magneticislandraceweek.com.au. Entries close Friday 22nd August 2014.

Magnetic Island Race Week is hosted by Townsville Yacht Club. Sponsored by SeaLink. Supported by Magnetic Island Marina, Tourism and Events Queensland, Yachting Queensland, Townsville Enterprise