News & Events

UNSW med students hit QLD's high seas for Airlie Beach RaceWeek

TWELVE medical students from the UNSW's Wagga Wagga Rural Clinical School will join the crew of Helsal 3 for the 26th edition of Airlie Beach RaceWeek next week.

The students were invited by the famous 31 year-old yacht’s co-owner, Dr Paul Mara, who has entered the Cruising class as Helsal 3 Northern Exposure.

Mara, a rural doctor in Gundagai, said inviting students had proved successful at past events.

“It’s a great way to build teamwork and show students that living and working in rural Australia does not in any way limit opportunities,” he said.

“It also provides some sailing experience and gives the Wagga Wagga clinical school a national profile.”

Last year the students raced at Hamilton Island under the guidance of Helsal 3’s other owner, Rob Fisher, a veteran of 19 Sydney Hobart’s.

They learned basic sailing skills, but at the same time competed against experienced sailors, gaining confidence and showing how important it was to work
together as a crew.

Helsal 3 will also host Wagga Wagga doctors Charles Oliver, Adrian van der Rijt and John Currie.

Oliver sailed on the yacht in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart and will do so again this year, when van der Rijt undertakes his maiden Hobart race.

Mara said he hoped to make racing with the students and doctors an annual event.

“(And) hopefully we can bring back some trophies, but the emphasis is on building teamwork, having fun and giving the Rural Clinical School a national profile,” he said.

Helsal 3 was launched in 1984 as The Office for Queenslander, Arthur Bloore.

She has twice since been owned by the Fisher family, who has raced her with success throughout the years.

She will represent Tasmania, where the Fishers live.

Rob Fisher’s father, DrTony Fisher, has owned a long line of Helsals.

The most effective took line honours and broke the race record in the 1973 Sydney Hobart.

The 26th edition of Airlie Beach Race Week, to be held from August 7-14, has so far attracted 100 entries across eight classes and numerous divisions.

Berths are filling fast at the Port of Airlie and Abell Point Marinas and competitors are urged to book now. The entry form, notice of race and all other information pertaining to the Whitsundays’ “Tropical Festival of Sailing” can be found at

Original article published in Whitsunday Times, Airlie Beach QLD on 30 July 2015