For the Royal Geelong Yacht Club’s 2014 Festival of Sails, January 21st-27th, a German based Melges 24 with a multinational crew is the first international entry. Entries opened last month at midnight on a Tuesday and German owner Bent Dietrich’s Czech tactician, Martin Trcka took advantage of the convenient time difference to lodge early paperwork.
Festival of Sails
'We were always committed to doing the worlds and Geelong week as preparation for it,' said Trcka. 'We got in early to get some jobs off the agenda, also entries opened midnight in Australia which is around midday in Europe, so it was no hassle.'
Dietrich’s Kleine Rainbow is one of six Melges 24s now entered for the class’ Australian Open Nationals, which fall under the Festival of Sails banner. The national title is the perfect polish up for the 2014 Melges 24 World Championship RGYC will host January 27th- February 2nd, 2014, immediately following the Festival of Sails. The majority of Melges contenders readying for the worlds are likely to sign on for the one-design shakedown and opportunity to eye off the competition.
'Flat water is easy to get use too, but Geelong is very shifty as I remember,' said Trcka. 'Also it’s good to get back in a boat and do all the mistakes before the worlds and not during them. Our last regatta was the 2013 worlds in San Fran in September so we will need some practice in general.'
On his long awaited return to Geelong and the Festival of Sails Trcka added, 'When I was there for the 2003/4 Laser nationals, personally I have never seen so crowded event anywhere in the world. I hope it’s the same these days. It’s great for Bent to finally come and sail in Australia, his Rainbow team has always had Australian crew so it’s like coming to one of the boat’s many homes.'
The Aussie among the truly global crew, Brett Filby, is kite trimmer, mid bow/floater Noah Blacker is from the US and bowman/boat captain Jerry Eplett is from Cornwall, England. That’s five crewmen and five nationalities.
Filby assures that when the crew and languages combine 'the technical jargon is the same,' adding, 'when we are telling stories it’s probably good Bent doesn’t understand everything we are saying. On the flipside it’s maybe an advantage for him to make out he’s not cottoning on when we are yelling in his direction'.
The second international entry is another Melges 24, Makoto Nagahashi’s Esprit from Yokohama, Japan.
Victorians have come out in force early to underpin their state’s oldest sporting trophy and annual Australia Day celebration, and New South Wales entries are steadily climbing alongside.
For the wider Festival of Sails fleet, currently at 40 and expected to swell to 300 plus by event time next January, all skippers will benefit from the RGYC’s revamped and simplified scoring system.
The entire fleet, bar the one design classes, will be essentially split into either cruising or racing divisions. Entrants in the racing divisions can choose to be scored under IRC, AMS or PHS, but they will still all compete on the same race track. In other words there won’t be separate race courses for differing rating/scoring systems, a major initiative for the 171st edition of the Festival of Sails.
Entries received by midnight November 30th will be eligible for an early bird discount of $50 off the regular entry fee, which applies from December 1st to January 10th. A late entry fee of $100 will apply after thereafter.
In 2014 the event will host three Australian Championship events; the Melges 24 Australian Open Nationals, the Australian Teams Racing Championship and the Sydney 38 One Design Australian Championships.
From Tuesday 21st to Monday 27th January an extensive sailing program will cater for all levels, with 17 different classes open to keelboats and multihulls from Australia and overseas.
The event will conclude Monday 27th, the Australia Day public holiday, with the trophy presentations and the final Shoreside Festival program of activities.