Cam McLeod was ringing me earlier in the year about a GPS speed event he was organising on a small island in the Great Barrier Reef in far north Queensland, the opposite corner of the country from where I live. He was extremely enthusiastic about the potential conditions due to the tide being at a seasonal low during the event week resulting in some serious reef exposure, strong wind and flat water. The thought of escaping to a resort on a tiny island in one of the most beautiful places in Australia that I hadn’t yet visited made my mind up.
Green Island is a small island off Cairns in Queensland, Australia and typically gets strong steady breezes for this time of the year, with temperatures around 27 degrees (no more, no less). It made wardrobe selection very simple.
Unfortunately an odd weather pattern moved in right on the start of the contest, dropping the winds for the contest. There was enough wind for most of the sailors to get some great coral cruising in, with speeds approaching double the wind speed.
I used my KA Koncept 7.5m sail and Carbon Art SP53 for the whole time. The combination was really efficient in the light winds, and although the volume was not quite there for floating my 90kg off-season beer gut in the glassy patches, once planing it stayed there. Gybing was also very efficient, with the explosive acceleration of the board and sail allowing plenty of planing gybes when the other fat boys struggled on floaty slalom boards.
One of the days offered some wind gusts to just under 20kts for a brief period during mid-tide, which corresponded to the most choppy time to sail with the reef already covered in the parts deep enough to sail. I managed the best speeds for the contest in this window with runs of around 32 knots. At low tide with a few more knots of wind, I’m sure we could have reached 40kts or more. On other days the wind barely hit 16kts and we were able to milk out speeds of ~30kts. The exposed reef offered some wonderful flat water.
After the first 5 days the wind died out completely so we spent a lot of time exploring the reef around the island, snorkeling with turtles, and checking out all the other marine life around the coral. One of the highlights was snorkeling around the jetty during the nightly fish feeding time, where island staff feed the local reef fish. We were hoping to swim around with some of the sharks but they only turned up after we got out.
Cam and Catherine went to huge efforts to get this event off the ground. It was an awesome job and I’m really looking forward to next year. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in a fantastic holiday on a tropical island resort with plenty of flat water sailing, with plenty of other activities available for non-windsurfers and light wind days.