We’ve already told you about the Whitsundays in winter and what a great time of year it is to explore the area by boat.
Now let us tell you about August – the month when Airlie Beach comes alive with a string of nautical-themed events.
Whitsunday Reef Festival
Launching the action-packed month-long agenda is the Whitsunday Reef Festival – an Airlie Beach-based celebration of what it means to be a community at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.
Run entirely by a team of dedicated volunteers, the Whitsunday Reef Festival takes place in the first weekend of August and the majority of events are free to attend.
This year’s 18th Whitsunday Reef Festival kicks off on Thursday, August 2, with the Lions Airlie Beach cruise ship markets and Helibiz helicopter joy flights on the Airlie foreshore, followed by a Comedy Gala at the Reef Gateway Hotel.
The Comedy Gala is one of the festival’s only ticketed events, with tickets available through www.whitsundaytickets.com.au.
On Friday, August 3, the action takes place after dark, with night markets, carnival rides, food stalls and fireworks on the foreshore.
‘Beats on the Beach’ brings live local acts plus special guests DJ Sticks and Rave Radio to the Beach Music Stage.
For those who want to dance the night away there’s an after party at Boom Nightclub.
On Saturday, August 4, the Airlie Beach main street is closed to traffic other than vintage cars, trucks and bikes in the Fraser Ford Revvin’ the Reef car show.
Incorporating a ‘Miss Pin-Up’ competition showcasing a bevvy of 50’s-clad beauties, it’s a great lead-in to the Wilmar Sugar Wearable Art competition and Rotary Street Parade.
The theme for this year’s parade is ‘The Reef – It’s Magic’ – so we expect some colourful costumes and floats to say the least!
For those who like to keep up their fitness regime, there’s a ‘Mantra Magic Mile’, or mile-long run at 5pm.
The day finishes with more free entertainment at Beats on the Beach and Joyride’s Tour of Self Care at Magnums Hotel (tickets from www.oztix.com.au).
Sunday, August 5 is the Telstra Family Fun Day, filled with fun and games on the Airlie Beach foreshore from 10am-2pm.
A variety of homemade nautical craft will battle it out at the Recyclable Regatta on Broadwater Beach from 2pm, before the festival winds down with live music and a foreshore bar at ‘Chill in the Park’ and a Sunday Session After Party at Shed Bar.
For the full program of events and more information visit www.whitsundayreeffestival.com.au.
Beats on the beach is full of great live music acts. Photo Andrew Pattinson/Vampp Photography
Airlie Beach Race Week
Hot on the Whitsunday Reef Festival’s heels comes Airlie Beach Race Week.
Now in its 30th year, the 2018 anniversary regatta is headed for the record books in terms of the number of entries received.
Also known as the ‘Festival of Sailing’, Airlie Beach Race Week habitually attracts participants from Australia-wide and as far afield as New Zealand and Hong Kong.
On each of the six race days in the seven-day regatta from August 9-16, a parade of yachts leaves the Port of Airlie and Abell Point Marina each morning, their Race Week burgees flying like battle flags in the wind.
Once the spinnakers are set even those not initiated into sailing can’t fail to be impressed as the colourful kites fill the horizon and head off into the endless blue.
Hosted by the Whitsunday Sailing Club, Airlie Beach Race Week’s on-shore festivities are every bit as exciting as the on-water action.
This year’s entertainment program features music from the Daizeychains, Acca Dacca, Living in the 70’s, Australian singer/songwriter Chris Matthews and The Fox.
On Sunday, August 12 (Race Day 3), race followers and the local community are invited to the Whitsunday Sailing Club for a Reef and Beef Long Lunch and on the following ‘Lay Day’, there’s a nautical-themed lunch at Abell Point Marina’s chef-hat restaurant Hemingway’s.
With the exception of one night hosted by the Reef Gateway Hotel (Saturday, August 11), all prizegiving and entertainment takes place at the Whitsunday Sailing Club and is free of charge for the community and visitors to attend.
For entries, Notice of Race and all information go to www.abrw.com.au.
Hamilton Island Race Week
When the last Airlie Beach Race Week trophy has been collected and the rum is drunk, all eyes move across the Whitsunday Passage to Hamilton Island, where the die-hard racers prepare to do it all again.
Also headed for record entry numbers in 2018, this 35-year-old regatta boasts an impressive big boat fleet, including super-maxi’s Black Jack and Wild Oats XI.
From August 18-25, the island takes on a carnival atmosphere complete with fun, food and fashion on-shore events.
An invitation-only Skipper’s Welcome Cocktail Party launches the 2018 regatta at the prestigious Hamilton Island Yacht Club on Saturday, August 18, leading in to a string of free and ticketed events.
On the ticketed list (and subject to various conditions) are a dinner with Lennox Hastie and special guest Peter Gilmour, a Wild Oats Wine Ladies Lunch, dinners with Neil Perry AM by Qantas Australia, the Oatley and Paspaley families and Danielle Alvarez, plus champagne lunches and more.
On the water there’s an element of fun with the annual Prix d’Elegance, where prior to racing on Thursday, August 23, competitors vie for the titles of best-presented and best-themed yacht.
For more information visit www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au.
Catch all the on-water action at Airlie Beach Race Week. Photo Andrew Pattinson/Vampp Photography
Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club Rendezvous
Finishing the month with a bang is the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club Rendezvous.
From humble beginnings and named after tiny Shag Islet in the Whitsundays’ Gloucester Passage, the SICYC has morphed into a global network of cruising yachties and people who enjoy boating.
Each year that fraternity comes together on the club’s ‘home turf’ for a Rendezvous raising money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
In accordance with the club’s motto of being ‘exclusively non-exclusive’, all are welcome to attend this four-day-long party, for a one-off ‘Vice Commodore’ membership fee and a single $25 Rendezvous charge.
This Rendezvous gets underway on Thursday, August 23, with a meet and greet plus live entertainment at the Cape Gloucester Resort.
Friday, August 24 begins with Tai Chi on the beach, followed by a special breakfast hosted by the PCFA and the iconic Shag Islet Festival – a party at the club’s namesake, only accessible at low tide.
Saturday, August 24 sees ‘Shaggers’ join hands across the blue – making the shape of the PCFA logo with their dinghies in a symbolic gesture denoting the underlying spirit of the event.
The Abell Point Marina Parrot Head Party that night is a must for any Jimmy Buffett fans, with live music by the Barbary Coasters at the Cape Gloucester Resort.
Costumes are also mandatory for the Pirate Party on Sunday, August 26, proudly sponsored by Captain Morgan Rum.
Also hosted by the Cape Gloucester Resort, this event sees one lucky man and woman crowned the best-dressed pirate and pirate queen.
To become a vice commodore or for more information, visit www.sicyc.com.au.
The Pirate Party at the annual SICYC Rendezvous is always a hoot. Photo Sharon Smallwood/iTalk Communications
How to combine your bareboat charter with an August event
Just as there is arguably no better way to enjoy the Whitsundays than by boat, there is also ample opportunity to combine your charter holiday with a unique experience of one or more of these August events.
Bareboat charterers have the option of staying at our Shute Harbour base or booking into the Abell Point Marina for a night or two during this event.
The Abell Point Marina is also a great place to berth during Airlie Beach Race Week when the atmosphere is electric.
As this is understandably one of the marina’s busiest times of year, prior bookings are advised to avoid disappointment.
Subject to berth availability Hamilton Island Marina is a similarly vibrant spot, but again prior planning is advised.
For a ring-side seat on all the action, nothing beats a sail out to one of the race starts.
Maintaining a safe distance off the course, spectators are continually wowed by the spectacle of more than 100 boats jostling for position as the gun goes off.
Airlie Beach Race Week starts are in Pioneer Bay and Hamilton Island Race Week starts are advised daily via the website.
For those who don’t want to be at the helm when the action is on, both events offer spectator vessels.
Meanwhile a sail up the Whitsunday coast to the Gloucester Passage for the SICYC rendezvous is an experience in itself.
Taking in the mainland anchorages of picturesque Woodwark and Double Bay, as well as the outlying islands of Armit, Grassy and Olden, this is a side of the Whitsundays less frequently explored and where you will truly get off the beaten track.
To book your next bareboat holiday in the Whitsundays contact us today on 1800 075 000.
Reef Festival's fireworks on the foreshore. Photo Andrew Pattinson/Vampp Photography