6:06 AM Tue 24 Jul 2012 GMT
Lake Macquarie, NSW sailors Bob Cowan and his son Michael trailer their eight metre sports boat 'Stealthy' north to Airlie Beach Race Week every year.
They are currently preparing for the 23rd annual Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week, which will run from August 10 to 16.
For the Cowans it will be a 2,200 km journey, the same one they have completed for the last seven winters, but they would not miss it for the world.
Michael Cowan says with a smile 'Some sailor's annual pilgrimage is to Hobart. Ours is to Airlie Beach. We think that is a way, way smarter choice.'
Over the last decade the Sports Boat fleet sailing at Airlie Beach Race Week has continued to grow in strength and in most years it's the biggest sport boat gathering in the Asia Pacific.
Bob Cowan's Stealthy is one of the largest of the sports boats, along with John Rae's Guided Missile and Peter Jamieson's Two Hot to Trot. It's another good fleet and mid-sized boats include Brett Whitbread's Blokes World and Jason Ruckert's Mister Magoo and this year's battle of the 650's will be intense with three Shaws, two Leeches and two Thompsons already registered.
'It's a wet and wild ride on a sports boat in any decent breeze 'says Michael Cowan. 'On Airlie Beach's Pioneer Bay the conditions are perfect with the south east trades in early August.
'And its warm, T-shirt weather so the wet part is fine.
'For us this event, along with the annual Heaven Can Wait 24 Hour race on Lake Macquarie, is the highlight of the year. The Heaven Can Wait is a serious endurance test in late September-early October but the Airlie Beach Race Week series is all about the most competitive sports boat racing, probably in the world, in perfect conditions and we just would not be anywhere else.'
Regatta Director Denis Thompson today reported 2012 entries are still running about 25% above last year's record fleet. 'It's certainly going to be a bumper year ' he said.
For the Notice of Race, online entry and more information about the 23rd annual Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week 2012 please visit the event website
by Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week media