AIRLIE BEACH RACE WEEK 2020
North Sails Australia’s Josh Torpy and Ben Kelly Share Race Reflections
Airlie served up challenging light air racing for the week-long event. In the IRC passage fleet, racing was very close between Team Hollywood, Mr Bojangles, Desperado, Black Diamond and Envy Scooters making it exciting and a great test of crew work. Team Hollywood, with a full North inventory, was quick out of the blocks– just as expected in the lighter breeze conditions. Black Diamond was hot on their heels, pushing them on the IRC rating every chance they got but Team Hollywood was ahead of the game, coming out on top of the scoresheet, followed by Envy Scooters, and Desperado to round out the podium.
North Sails Brisbane’s Josh Torpy was onboard Envy Scooters, and used Airlie Beach RW as their practice event for the Annual Sydney Hobart which takes place later this summer. “We were fortunate enough to have some great crew that we normally don’t have access to, especially given the Covid pandemic,” said Josh. “Having a top-notch crew gave us the upper hand, and that allowed us to truly get the most of the week-long event to work on crew fine tuning and boat speed.” Using the week to fine tune, the team took many positives away which will help them get up to speed with their normal crew. Josh commented; “This year’s event saw many smiling faces, as sailors were happy to be back on the water, back to doing what they love most. All and all the whole fleet had a great week in what we all felt very lucky and privileged to participate in a great regatta in the Whitsundays given the current situation.”
North Sail Expert Ben Kelly also shared excitement for a successful race week onboard Black Diamond. “It was refreshing to be surrounded by such a strong team of younger sailors that are moving up into larger keel boat racing,” he remarked. “This was the first race for the new owner, and to experience the tight IRC racing amongst a wide range of boats made for the perfect ice breaker.” The Black Diamond crew is gaining traction and was able to ramp up their performance by focusing on crew work and boat handling. Ben commented: “For our first race together, we are very happy with our result. Our 3Di RAW 780 mainsail was our secret weapon in the light air conditions, and the boat was in great condition, prepared by Lee Randall and North Sails associates to get her up to top speed.”
Overall North Sails was heavily represented across all fleets at the event, I paid particular attention to the Multihull Divisions, with a new A2 giving the Cut Snake owned by Robert Dean a new deeper downwind mode that clearly improved their week in the light conditions.
Troy Forest’s Grainger Mint was quite impressive all week, with a beautiful 3Di square top mainsail and headsail. “They used their massive Code 55 upwind and did very well in the ultra-light conditions,” said Ben. “We recently supplied Mick Hayes aboard the Schionning Catamaran Renaissance with a new carbon paneled main that had an increased head width and a more refined roach. From the looks of it, they had her dialed in at this event.”
The Orma 60 Trimaran ex-Vodaphone won the regatta using a full wardrobe of North Sails. All sailors felt genuinely fortunate to be attending a regatta in such amazing waters and perfect weather.
Ben commented; “I am sure next year’s Airlie Beach Race Week will smash all records for attendance as the beautiful images going out on social media have made all missing this years event very jealous!”