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$25k Boost For Our Regatta

By Mark Beale

One of the biggest events on the Whitsundays’ calendar is sailing closer by the day and a massive cash injection will ensure it only gets bigger and better.

Airlie Beach Race Week is on August 11-18 this year and Whitsunday Regional Council has just announced an unprecedented level of support with $25,000 going to the event.

Organisers are already expecting 130 entries and a significant increase in local and regional attendance, with over $1.1 million injected into the local economy during last year.

Mayor Andrew Willcox said he had fond memories growing up with the event.

“I’m a local bloke and back when I was younger it meant a lot of fun,” he said.

“Now it’s all about bringing prosperity to our region. This council is very keen in promoting events within our region because it’s a good economic stimulus in the whole area. Events like this create accommodation; it’s good for the local pubs and restaurants and also promotion.”

Cr Willcox said the true value of the event was in the promotion.

“People come from all over the country and overseas; they attend an event like this and then they come back for holidays. They put it on their map, and we get return business out of it,” he said.

“It’s not just about the racing crews; it’s about their families, their supporters their friends and everyone that comes through. While they’re here they’re banging it up on their Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter.”

The support from council is more than twice than last year’s when they provided the event a total of $10,000 in cash, and waived all event fees and charges.

Whitsunday Sailing Club Commodore Stu Harris explained there were 108 yachts on the water for six days of racing and thousands of locals and guests attending the eight nights of festivities at the Whitsunday Sailing Club.

“Every race day there were around 1800 competitors and race officials on the water and over 5000 attendees joined in for the free entertainment at the club in the evenings,” he said.

“The week-long series is renowned among sailors Australia-wide as a vibrant, exciting, fun and well run event.”

The onshore social program will be expanded this year to include eight nights of live entertainment, wine tastings, a long lunch on the lawn, an outrigger challenge and a festival fun run

Airlie Beach Race Week is now the largest keelboat regatta staged on Queensland’s mainland coast, last year attracting an equal size fleet to the 2015 Sydney to Hobart.

SOURCE: WHITSUNDAY TIMES

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