Festival of Sails 2013 - Geelong lights up for Australia Day

Festival of Sails 2013
John Curnow ©
Festival of Sails 2013 is about to start on Saturday with thousands of visitors expected to pack the Geelong Waterfront to enjoy the free Australia Day celebrations.

Landlubbers and seafarers alike will revel in the festival’s offerings, from children’s rides and roving entertainment, to food and wine stalls and three stages of live music, including headline act Stonefield.

The band of four sisters from rural Victoria, who performed at the Glastonbury Festival, will take to the Steampacket Stage ahead of the BayFM Fireworks Spectacular that will light up the sky from sunset (approx. 9.20pm AEDT).

It’s the perfect backdrop for the largest annual keelboat regatta in the Southern Hemisphere.

More than 300 yachts are competing in the 170th Festival of Sails, across 20 divisions, including the national titles for IRC keelboats and the Melges 24s, and the Victorian state title for the SB20s.

2011 Australian of the Year and former world sailing speed record holder Simon McKeon, who is competing in the Gill International A-Class Catamaran Southern Championship, said taking part in the Festival of Sails was the perfect way to mark the national day.

'When any of us grow up in this country, we take it for granted,’’ he said. 'I feel blessed because I’ve been able to travel and that makes you realise just how lucky we are.

'If people aren't already aware of it, Australia is the most extraordinary country. It’s the lucky country for sure, the luckiest country even. The festival brings everyone together to celebrate this.'

The Australia Day celebrations will begin with an Australian Citizenship Ceremony at 11.00am on the Steampacket Stage, with the Mayor Cr Keith Fagg.

Thirty-five people from countries including India, Italy, China and Serbia will become the some of Australia’s newest citizens.

On the water, Yachting Victoria will offer a chance to learn the ropes of sailing through their Discover Sailing program. Keen sailors are urged to register at Eastern Beach for their chance to hit the water with professional instructors.

Yachting Victoria CEO Steve Walker said more than 700 people took part last year and urged everyone to give it a go.
'It’s a lifetime opportunity for people,’’ he said. 'Sailing teaches independence, capability, about looking after equipment, taking care of another person and keeping fit and healthy.'

Festival of Sails 2013