TWENTY-FIVE years ago, Airlie Beach Race Week was little more than a three-race series run by the Whitsunday Sailing Club.
Current club commodore Jim Hayes, who was also the commodore back in 1989, was looking for someone to sponsor the series and got chatting to Hogs Breath founder Don Algie, who was setting up a cafe in Airlie Beach.
“Don had a great love of sailing and had been heavily involved in some major sailing events around the world,” Mr Hayes said.
“And it was because of his vision that Airlie Beach Race Week began.”
As a result of these discussions, Algie took on sponsorship of the series, which morphed from the Hogs Breath Cruising Classic into the Hogs Breath Race Week and now, quarter of a century later, into the 25th Vision Surveys Airlie Beach Race Week.
Algie, who has sailed in the event every year, is currently competing aboard his luxury yacht,Storm 2.
This year’s regatta is particularly poignant for both him and the boat, as he has sold the 20m fast-cruising sloop to a New Zealand couple and it will depart Airlie Beach two days after the end of Race Week.
Storm 2 has been a stalwart of the regatta for the past 10 years and a perennial Cruising Division line honours star.
At the 25th anniversary celebrations held on Monday night, Algie was presented with a framed photograph of the yacht, complete with comments from his long-term supporters and crew.
After accepting his gift, labelled ‘Obnoxious in victory, surly in defeat’, Algie spoke of his hopes for the regatta’s next 25 years.
“Just keep it up,” he said.
“I think everybody likes it – they love the courses here and I just want people to keep enjoying it.”