Back in 1998 Airlie Beach's Pioneer Bay was the scene of the Hobie 16 catamaran World Championships. A spectacular event and a great venue, the locals enjoyed the excitement and the visiting sailors enjoyed the venue.
The Hogs Breath Café founder Don ALGIE has a great love of the flying catamarans and so has his management team. A younger Brett DRYLAND, now the MD of Hogs Breath Café, placed third at the '98 Worlds.
Since then Hogs Breath Race Week fleets have regularly included multihull divisions, until rapid growth of the event over the last two years forced event organisers to restrict the event to monohull yachts.
At Hogs Breath Race Week 2005, from 12-18 August, the catamarans are back, bigger and much faster than ever before! The Australian Formula 18 National Championships are being sailed for the first time ever in conjunction with a major keelboat regatta.
The Australian catamaran racing scene is one of the best in the world with champions like Darren BUNDOCK, Glen ASHBY, Mitch BOOTH, Steve BREWIN and Greg GOODALL often returning to their roots, to race in the box rule Formula 18 class.
Formula 18 World Champion, Australia's Glen ASHBY, won the 2004 Australian titles on a sometimes cold and very wet Wallis Lake at Forster last October, when factory teams from Hobie, Capricorn and Nacra showcased the latest from their stables, hoping to grab the highly-prized winners trophy.
Glenn ASBHY, fresh from winning the World title in Europe with Tornado Champion Darren BUNDOCK, sailed with Tim KIRKHAM and won the Australian titles with a Hobie Tiger.
Greg GOODALL, sailing with son Liam, also back from Europe with his Capricorn F18, was second overall in the 34 boat fleet.
This year's Formula 18 Nationals will head north to warmer climates. Hog's Breath Race Week will host the event at Airlie Beach, so it's T-shirt sailing for the highly competitive and skilled F18 crews.
Ideal racing conditions for the powerful catamarans are 15-18 knots, just the kind of breezes that mid August Whitsunday south easterly trades can produce, so sailors, spectators and visitors alike are likely to see Formula 18 at its best.
Two-string reaching and blast running under spinnaker with only metres between boats travelling at high speed, produces spectacular sailing.
The modern spinnaker snuffer system pulls a single line and hoists the 21sqm asymmetric spinnaker on its fixed pole and retrieves it for a last minute dousing as the skipper steers the flying machine around the leeward mark.
Exciting racing for onlookers, but frightening for the crew who have their head down pulling strings while the skipper drives a five and a half metre long pitch fork into a crowded mark-rounding.
The Formula 18's will be launching off the beach at the Whitsunday Sailing Club and sailing close by on beautiful Pioneer Bay and the competition is certain to be hot.
As prominent Queensland catamaran sailor Mal GRAY explains 'Formula 18 Catamarans in Australia are continuing to attract the top level competitors from within and outside the Catamaran scene. '
'The formula rule allows sailors to stay with their preferred manufacturer whilst becoming part of a much larger recognised international class. F18 sailors from Hobie, Capricorn, Nacra and Blade are looking forward to defending class honour at the 2005 Hogsbreath Formula 18 Catamaran Nationals at Airlie Beach in August.'