SPORT - Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week 2010

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Record entries for 21st edition… still time to enter

Organisers are expecting a record entry of boats for the annual Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week, beginning this Thursday.

Back in Race Week 2005 there were 122 boats racing on Pioneer Bay, but 25 of these were off-the-beach F18 catamarans, with just two crew.

This year, with Race Week still accepting entries, there are already 120 boats entered, all of them larger keelboats or multihulls. Regatta officials said this means there will be a record number of sailors and no doubt boats, facing the starter this coming Friday.

The biggest week on the Airlie Beach sports calendar is just a few days away, with the 21st Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week functions starting on Thursday, August 12 and running through until the Thursday, August 19.

Regatta director Denis Thompson said: "We had 120 boats entered as at Friday afternoon for Airlie Beach Race Week 2010, but we are accepting late entries and with a number of boats still scrambling to complete their paperwork we should exceed the 2005 number, certainly with much bigger boats and much bigger crew numbers. We may run out of battle flags, so the straggling entrants had better be quick.

"This year will be a record for crew numbers ? we will top 1000 sailors for the first time and this is another great success for the 21-year-old regatta," he said.

Meridien Marinas Abel Point Marina general manager, Richard Barrett, was all smiles ahead of the big event.

"It is all happening here now," said Barrett. "The first of the southern boats have started to arrive and the trickle will soon turn to a flood. The marina is looking superb. There has been a lot of progress over the last year with more frequent buses, an ATM and more shops and the landscaping has continued."

Whitsunday Sailing Club commodore, Kevin Fogarty, is pleased with the entry numbers, a few days before the regatta.

"Last year, with the Global Financial Crisis in full swing, we dipped to 95 boats and we knew we would do better this year, but to gain more than 25 per cent is certainly at the higher end of our expectations," said Fogarty.

"With the marina now expanded, this year we have been able to welcome the multihulls back for the first time in seven years. There is only a small fleet this year but we do expect that will grow in coming years.

"We are looking forward to a great 21st regatta celebration over the next week," he said.

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