Sydney To Hobart Yacht Would Rather Be In The Whitsundays


Sydney to Hobart contender "Merit" has unveiled its true colours and a bit of Queensland humour by setting sail in this year's Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race with a sail that says they'd rather be in The Whitsundays.


Sydney to Hobart contender, 'Merit' Tourism Queensland CEO Anthony Hayes said Tourism Queensland and Tourism Whitsundays had partnered with Merit, the Volvo 60 round-the-world racing yacht owned by Whitsundays locals Leo Rodriguez and Ian Bishop, to send a clear message to viewers that they'd rather be sailing The Whitsundays. 

"To celebrate the launch of The Whitsundays new tourism brand, The Whitsundays 74 Island Wonders, earlier this month, we decided the timing was perfect to partner with Merit and put some Whitsundays wind into the Sydney to Hobart race's sail," Mr Hayes said. 

"The trade-mark Queensland-style stunt has been designed to grab some attention and create a real desire amongst viewers to want to visit The Whitsundays. 

"Merit is a record-breaking yacht and has every chance of winning their division, but I know the crew will be thinking they'd rather be in The Whitsundays' calm, blue waters when they hit expected blustery conditions during this year's race. 

"The crew from Australia's premier sailing region are accustomed to sailing in an aquatic playground, where the biggest challenges are navigating around 74 island wonders, avoiding humpback whales and concentrating on the task at hand." 

Mr Hayes said the stunt would be supported by print advertisements in Sydney and Melbourne promoting a range of Whitsunday holiday packages in partnership with Blue Holidays (Virgin Blue's package holiday division). 

"Tourism Queensland will roll out a national tourism marketing campaign centred on the new brand - The Whitsundays, 74 Island Wonders in February 2011 which will include online and high-impact outdoor advertising tempting holiday makers to the region," he said. 

"Then, in May and June we will undertake another round of promotional activity for the region during the winter months. 

"With experiences such as sailing through the 74 islands, the silca sand of Whitehaven Beach between your toes or encountering tropical fish of the Great Barrier Reef up close, The Whitsundays is undeniably connected with the word 'wonders'." 

Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer Peter O'Reilly said The Whitsundays was Australia's sailing mecca, with calm protected waters and endless islands and beaches to explore. 

"Of course the crew would rather be sailing in The Whitsundays, than battling the big seas" Mr O'Reilly said. 

"The Whitsundays is truly a sailor's paradise, and everyone who lives and visits here has sailing running in their blood. 

"Sailing is something that everyone must try at least once in their lives, and the Whitsundays offers such a beautiful location for learners all the way through to experienced yachtsmen to explore by boat." 

Mr Hayes said Merit would be remembered by most for demonstrating the friendly spirit and hospitality of The Whitsundays during the 2008 Rolex Sydney to Hobart when the crew rescued a troubled competitor and its 14 members. 

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