It was straight into the thick of things when Townsville Yacht Club (TYC) kick-started SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) proceedings, with a race taking in Four Foot Rock off Townsville, the sailing conditions superb with a solid 15 knot wind and gusts to boot.

Fresh from the Tokyo Games, AOC executive board member, Matt Allen, is co-skippering Chris McSorley’s Hanse 445  Lunacy with Bryan Kennett. It is a far cry from Allen’s two-time Sydney Hobart winning TP52, Ichi Ban, but Allen is enjoying himself immensely, Magnetic Island already working its magic on him.

“I only arrived yesterday. This is my first time here. It’s been difficult for me to get here with my boat, because of regattas back in Sydney (in the lead-up to the Rolex Sydney Hobart), but I’m here on a friend’s boat.

Allen had to quarantine for a couple of weeks, “So I haven’t done much since arriving back in Australia. In fact, this is the first regatta I’ve done. Chris (McSorley) and I used to sail with and against each other back in the 80’s. Chris is locked down in Melbourne, but Brian’s here. I’m glad I came.

“The situation with the marina and Peppers, the supermarket and ferry terminal is incredible; everything is on your doorstep. It’s very chilled, casual and everyone is relaxed and friendly. Beautiful conditions too – shorts and tee- shirt weather.”

Looking for something to do post the Tokyo Games, Allen said, “Chris and I had a chat some weeks ago, as he was hopeful of getting here. So I suggested we put crew together and go for a sail.”

Allen and Kennett finished third in SeaLink Spinnaker Division 2 today. They were beaten to the punch by Russell McLaughlin’s Catalina 400, Freya, and Boadicca, a Dufour 36 owned and sailed by SMIRW event chairman, Mike Steel.

Local sailor, Leon Thomas took out SeaLink Spinnaker Division 1, with Guilty Pleasures 8, his Sayer 7. He beat his much larger rivals in Stuart Tivey’s famous Frers 48, Ragamuffin III, and Craig Watson’s Jeanneau 53, Coopers.

“Not good for my handicap to win on the first day,” Thomas lamented, “but it’s good to have a win. We’re the baby of Division 1, just 7 metres long.”

Thomas said the day was a cracker, “But it was a hard day. A solid 15 knot wind with a few gusts and the sea was a bit choppy. The tide made it a good tactical race too. We basically did a long windward/leeward course. We had a great upwind wind leg all the way to Four Foot Rock and then a nice square downwind to finish the day. 

Thomas said “We were nipping at the heels of the bigger boats all day. Crusader (Brett and Jacinta Cooper’s Melges 32 from Tasmania) was the carrot for us to chase.

“Sunny skies, spectacular weather. That’s why we come to Townsville. Add in good courses and then the social bit after. Maggie Island is one of those gems. You need to come and experience it. Lots of fun, not pretentious,” he said, adding, “We are the only boat to have done every Maggie Island Race Week.” 

Rushour, the Drew 15 multihull owned by Queenslander Drew Carruthers, charged to the finish line for a big win the Multihull division. He beat TYC regulars, Graeme Etherton’s ‘The Boat’, and Ian Johnson’s Salacia by 20 and 23 minutes respectively.

In other news, 17 year-old Fletcher Tivey was going to sail against his father (Ragamuffin III) this week. Unfortunately, the rig  of his Etchells, Thunder Struck, came tumbling down before Race 1 started. 

Entrants from multihulls to sports boats and yachts in both spinnaker and non-spinnaker divisions are ensconced at the beautiful ‘Maggie Island’, along with their crews, family and friends, who are looking forward to a week of racing and fun in the sun, all centred around Peppers Blue on Blue resort.

For full results in all divisions and all information, please visit:

By Di Pearson
SMIRW media

Main photo: Andrea Francolini