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Berths Ready for World Race

By Mark Beale

Abell Point Marina’s Luke McCaul briefs tenants on the upcoming Clipper event on Tuesday.

It should be their down season but the Abell Point Marina crew is preparing to be busier than ever, with the arrival in January of 12 famous Clipper yachts.

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will call into Airlie Beach from January 13 for the first time in its 19-year history and Abell Point Marina marketing and business development manager Luke McCaul is determined to make sure it goes off without a hitch.

Mr McCaul is currently overseeing the dredging to about 4m of 12 berths on the marina’s M arm, which will accommodate the deep draft yachts.

“These boats have a 3m draft and will be coming in at all hours so we want to make sure there’s no problems at all,” he said, adding the marina’s dredge program had been very successful, giving the capacity to berth super yachts “that can’t go anywhere else in Australia”.

Held biennially, the 40,000-mile Clipper yacht race is regarded as one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet.

Established in 1996 by British yachting legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the idea of the race is to allow anyone, regardless of previous experience, the chance to experience the exhilaration of ocean racing.

The fleet of 12, one-design 70-foot racing yachts and its hundreds of crew are currently in Western Australia preparing to compete in the iconic 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, after which they will head to Airlie Beach.

The Abell Point Marina, in partnership with Whitsunday Regional Council, the Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce, Whitsundays Marketing and Development, Tourism Events Queensland, the Abell Point Yacht Club and local businesses, is planning a fun-filled schedule to celebrate the arrival of the Clipper Race crew from January 13-18 and is encouraging the local community and travelling visitors to jump on board with all the action.

Mr McCaul said the activity schedule included a function on Friday, January 15, complete with fireworks, a community open day at the marina on the Saturday, an outrigger challenge on the Sunday and the formation of a flotilla to farewell the fleet on Monday, January 18.

“And we’re looking at a number of different ways we can engage with the media and all our businesses here to basically provide updates to the community,” he said.

“It’s a great destination for them to be coming to and we want to get together, collaborate and bring this to the highest profile.”

Mr McCaul pointed out the timing of the visit was perfect, with that particular weekend in January normally somewhat of a dead spot.

“But if we can create a spectacle it’ll roll into Australia Day and Chinese New Year – no one had budgeted for this but the community’s going to benefit,” he said.

For more information about how to get involved visit http://www.clipperrace-whitsundays.com.

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