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Airlie Beach Race Week: flying visit for Matt Allen

  • Matt Allen and Walter Lewin's Ichi Ban competing in the 2012 Airlie Beach Race Week (Photo by Tracey Johnstone)
  • Matt Allen's Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban, new deck ready for matching with hull (Photo by Neil Cox, Premier Composite Technologies)
  • Matt Allen's newest Ichi Ban, the Carkeek 60, with the deck being lifted into place ready for gluing (Photo by Neil Cox, Premier Composite Technologies)
Airlie Beach Race Week: flying visit for Matt Allen

For the first time in several months Ichi Ban’s Matt Allen will stay in one place for more than a few days as he settles in at one of his favourite sailing locations.

Allen is back in Airlie Beach for the 2013 Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week and getting ready to race his current Australian-based Ichi Ban, the Farr 400, in the Performance Racing Division.

He will be up against a fleet of 10 boats including the New Zealand McConaghy 38, Menace, in the seven-race series starting on Saturday 9th August.

Allen has covered a lot miles in recent months, both sailing and flying. In early June he was in Thailand where he won the Koh Samui Regatta IRC Two Division on his modified Adams 10. He then headed off to Los Angeles to jump on board Syd Fischer’s 100-foot Ragamuffin for the 2,225 mile Transpac race to Hawaii, winning the fastest monohull trophy.

“That was probably the highlight of the last couple of weeks. It’s a race that I have never done. It was a lot of fun with beautiful sailing conditions for sailing a100 footer from LA to Hawaii,” Allen said.

It was then on a plane back to Dubai to check out his newest and tenth Ichi Ban. The new boat is a Carkeek 60 design from the board of South-African designer Shaun Carkeek and built by Premier Composite Technologies.

Simply put, Allen’s goal with this boat is to win the Hobart Race. “On the dock in Hobart last year, my wife Lisa and I both came to the same conclusion, independently, that it was time to build a new boat.

“Basically from that minute onwards we have put in an enormous amount of effort to have a boat that will be arriving, I hope, into Sydney on the 18th November. Then we will be very busy with only just over one month to get it ready for our first Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race.

“It is very much a boat that is designed and built for ocean racing capability, but still light enough and fast enough for racing on windward/leeward courses.”

Allen plans to campaign the Carkeek 60 in Airlie next year for the regatta’s 25th anniversary, but in the meantime he is unpacking and preparing the Farr 400 Ichi Ban for this year’s event.

Allen is a great supporter of Airlie Beach both on the water and on the land. As a member of Whitsunday Sailing Club he said he proudly represents both that club and the Cruising Yacht of Australia when racing at Airlie.

With so many sailing projects on the board and a hectic business schedule, Airlie Beach is the one location where Allen finds he avoids many of the pressures of big boat events.

“Of all the regattas you go to around the world, I can’t think of one in these days where people are so relaxed and enjoying themselves as much as they are at Airlie. Its great racing conditions, normally get great winds and the courses are always interesting,” Allen said.

Once Allen and his team have tackled the Airlie Beach Race Week and a pretty tough looking Performance Racing fleet, he will head to Hamilton Island Race Week. Then it’s back on the truck for the Farr 400 and on the road to Sydney while Allen flies off to Dubai for probably the last visit before the new boat is loaded on the ship bound for Sydney.

And, Allen plans on keeping form when it comes to the naming of the new boat. There won’t be anything unusual; just Ichi Ban, that is, number one.

Full regatta entry list is at – www.airlieraceweek.com

By Tracey Johnstone