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VIDEO: Natural performers

Sailors participating in Australia’s annual Hamilton Island Race Week got some added excitement when humpback whales began breaching as the fleet passed through Whitsunday Passage off Queensland.

A mother and baby humpback were a pleasant distraction, delighting crews with a close-up nature show during the mid-August race.

Ron James, aboard his Beneteau 41 named Synergy, said the duo entertained them for as long as 45 minutes.

"It was incredible. We were sailing along and it was tracking us and then it swam parallel to us and breached,” James said of the huge whale launching skyward next to his boat. “There was a massive bang when it hit the water. You could see the barnacles."