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Airlie Beach Race Week And Festival Of Sailing 2023

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Jessica Munro
Updated Fri 16 Feb 2024

Airlie Beach, a small regional town in Queensland, Australia, is gearing up for the 35th Annual Race Week and Festival of Sailing to be held from the 10th to 17th August 2023. The eagerly awaited event, hosted by the Whitsunday Sailing Club, promises an exciting and unforgettable week of racing, special events and socialising with sailors and spectators flocking from all around the world. 

Airlie Beach Race Week 2023

With just under a month to go, it’s said that all known berths and moorings in Airlie Beach have already been exhausted. Both Port of Airlie and Coral Sea Marina are reported to be fully booked. Over 100 yachts have entered into the race, and the town is expecting an influx of both participants and spectators alike, making it clear to see just how popular the Airlie Beach regatta is amongst the sailing community.


ABRW 2023 Catamaran

Known for its competitive racing and scenic circuits, the Airlie Beach Race Week caters to sailors and vessels of all experience and speed levels. From seasoned seafarers, to novice navigators, there are multiple Whitsunday sailing divisions to suit everyone. This ensures fair competition based on the various styles of boats and encourages a healthy dose of racing rivalry to keep sailors on their toes. 

Race Week routes are designed to test the skills of participating teams and challenge their strategies and teamwork abilities with various markers scattered along the course. It’s a fun and friendly atmosphere for all involved. 


Race Week Sailing

Starting in Airlie Beach’s famous Pioneer Bay, sailors will battle it out over the week, setting out on various courses around the Whitsunday Islands. Boats of all shapes and sizes from monohulls to trimarans, including some previous Sydney to Hobart race winners, makes for some seriously fun competition. 

Friday the 11th August sees the first Race Day begin, followed by Saturday and Sunday runs through the passages, around marks and numerous islands. Monday brings a lay day, where teams can have a rest, hang out onshore, party, or maybe even sail to one of the gorgeous Whitsunday beaches to relax. A Whitsunday Blue Private Charter is the perfect way to experience it all.  

Whitsunday Blue Catamaran at Whitehaven

The race continues on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a set of presentations before dinner on Wednesday night. And the final race day on Thursday wraps up Race Week in Airlie Beach. A delivery of awards and Race Week highlights are hosted by the Whitsunday Sailing Club, followed by a night of celebrations and fun entertainment to close out the event! 


Whales Breaching Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach Race Week also happens to coincide with peak season for whales migrating to warmer waters. Sailors and spectators may be lucky enough to come across these enchanting creatures as they navigate north to mate, give birth and raise their young. 

Sailors have been known to pause racing to allow passage of Humpback whales and witness these playful mammals breaching, frolicking and putting on a show. Sightings of whales are a true delight and make for a remarkable Race Week experience.


Airlie Beach Festival Of Sailing Social Events

Taking place on land in Airlie Beach, The Festival Of Sailing coincides with the ABRW and will consist of lively entertainment, social events and more. It’s estimated that more than 10,000 people will be in attendance for the week.

The onshore Festival Of Sailing is considered one of the Whitsunday Coasts’ most notable events alongside the Race Week, and presents 7 days and nights of unforgettable, vibrant experiences. 

Arrive a week earlier and also enjoy the annual Whitsunday Great Barrier Reef Festival from the 3rd to 6th August 2023.

Airlie Beach Foreshore Markets

Airlie Beach itself is a picturesque little town known for its vibrant nightlife and dining experiences. With options such as dining on the foreshore, heading out to the reef or exploring the Whitsunday Islands visitors will be spoilt for choice with activities. 

The Festival of Sailing event encourages an interactive scene where sailors and their supporters can make new connections and create lasting memories of their time in Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays.

ABRW Aerial Shot

No matter if you're a passionate sailor or spectator looking for an exciting yachting experience, Airlie Beach Race Week and Festival of Sailing 2023 aims to deliver an exciting week of events and entertainment for all! 

Chance marine life encounters, a close-knit community and a top-notch atmosphere, set amongst one of the world’s most beautiful sailing backdrops makes this sailing regatta a highlight calendar event on every sailing enthusiasts bucket list.

Interested in watching the race? Head down to the foreshore in Airlie Beach, or hire a private charter and watch the race up close in comfort and style!

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