6:32 AM Wed 25 Jul 2012 GMT
The 23rd annual Airlie Beach Race Week, organised by Whitsunday Sailing Club, is being held from 10th to 16th August 2012. Local sailing identity, Kevin Fogarty, may not travel far to be involved in his 17th Airlie Beach Race Week however it is the first year for his Beneteau First 40.7 which he bought via the internet from Croatia in 2010.
Kevin has been both Commodore and Rear Commodore of the Whitsunday Sailing Club six times respectively, and has either been involved in the Airlie Beach Race management team, crewing or racing a yacht since his first regatta in 1991. Kevin skippered his previous yacht Idle Time for many years but in 2010 decided it was time to upgrade and find a faster yacht that might get him over the finish line in first position.
Kevin says buying the yacht on the internet was an interesting learning experience but he definitely saved money on the cost of buying an equivalent yacht in Australia and he managed to squeeze in a seven week cruising holiday in Europe as well. He headed overseas with a couple of local sailing friends in April 2011 and they sailed the boat in Croatia, Italy and Greece. Kevin says, 'sailing over there was similar to cruising in the Whitsundays although the Croatian islands are more barren. The people were very friendly and they obviously have more history than we do. The exchange rate impacts on your profit margins but you can pick up an ex-charter boat for a song in Europe now.'
He had hoped to get Twister back to Australia in time for last year's Airlie Beach Race Week however the ship transporting it from Greece to Brisbane was delayed and it didn't arrive until mid-September 2011, just in time for her first 'warm water' racing in the WOYRC Series. This was the start of a huge educational journey for the skipper and crew as they had to learn the new boat and how different she was to race. When asked if the effort was worth it Kevin says, 'she's a lovely boat and although it took ten months from purchase to arrival in Australia and prices are even cheaper now, it was a fantastic experience. Idle Time was a great boat and we have been third on the Race Week podium three times, but Twister definitely loves sailing to windward and we are all keen to compete in the regatta this year and see if we can pull off a win in the Performance Racing division.'
Originally called Vihor (whirlwind in English) Twister was given her Australian name after Kevin translated her Croatian name to English. 'That way we didn't have to find white witches and virgins and have the whole re-naming ritual that tradition dictates' quipped Kevin.
She's come a long way for her maiden Airlie Beach Race Week but we imagine with the racing experience and local knowledge of her skipper and crew it might have been a journey well worthwhile.
Airlie Beach Race Week website
by Whitsunday Sailing Club