It’s Day 5, the penultimate day of racing at the Whitsunday Sailing Club’s (WSC) 2020 Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays Festival of Sailing, and among the entries is a newcomer, Glenn Burrell’s Black Diamond (pictured above).

Yesterday Black Diamond finished second to Team Hollywood, less than two minutes between the pair when the handicaps were put in place. Team Hollywood, a Botin 40, has proved unbeatable to this point, with two days of racing remaining.

Black Diamond was formerly Peter Harburg’s Black Jack, and as such, is a well-oiled racing machine. However, when Burrell purchased the boat, she spent an intensive week at The Boat Works in Brisbane undergoing refit and repairs.

She scored third in Race 1 on the opening day, so is holding her own against the likes of Team Hollywood and the TP52, Envy Scooters (Barry Cuneo), winner of the 2019 Sydney Gold Coast Race among others.

“I’ve had the boat for exactly one year and two days,” says owner, Burrell, from Southport Yacht Club in Queensland, which along with Sail Paradise, is sponsoring Black Diamond at ABRW.

“This is our first Airlie Beach Race Week. It’s very different (with the Covid 19 restrictions in place). You are more socialising with your own crew than everyone else. We can only go to club to collect our prizes. You have to sit down – you can’t move around.

“We’re enjoying the regatta on the water, but we could do with some more breeze,” Burrell said, echoing the thoughts of others. So far, the breeze has maxed out at 15 knots, albeit briefly for one day alone.

“Pioneer Bay can be a killer. Not having local knowledge – picking wind shifts and lulls. But it’s a beautiful race track and we’ve seen a few whales this week.

Still learning about his Reichel/Pugh 42, Burrell’s long term plans include contesting a few east coast races: “The Pittwater Coffs, Sydney Gold Coast, Brisbane Gladstone and Brisbane to Keppel races. And we’ll do the northern regattas, like this one and Hamilton Island.”

Previous to this yacht, the Queenslander says he owned a Jeanneau 42. I got a headache trying to race it, so decided it was time to take a step up and buy a real racing yacht.

“On this boat we have a fairly regular crew from the Gold Coast and Brisbane that we rotate. We’re an all amateur crew, but Lee Randall from Deepwater Collective is my boat captain,” Burrell ended.

This is the penultimate day of competition at Airlie Beach Race Week and the weather gurus say to expect a mainly sunny, warm day. Another light on breeze day again, with 6-8 knot predicted.

At there was a little swirling breeze, so Race Director, Ross Chisholm, raised the AP flag ashore at WSC and at Coral Sea Marina Resort when the bulk of competing yachts are moored.

Officials will continue to monitor the weather situation, but the plan is to start racing from 10.30am on course 41 for the entire fleet.

The 15 nautical mile course is was is commonly known as ‘The Bay Race’. It is contained within Pioneer Bay and takes in landmarks such as Bluff, Abell Point, with laid marks before the finish on Pioneer Bay.

It is the ideal race for spectators to view. A mass of boats and colour that can be easily seen from the water and ashore.

Airlie Beach Race Week Whitsundays Festival of Sailing is the region’s premier sporting and community event.

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By Di Pearson
ABRW media

Main photo by Shirley Wodson