Festival of Sails 2014 - Cruising success

Festival of Sails 2014
Guido Brandt
In the Festival of Sails 2014 the second round of trophies were presented this morning on the lawn of the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, the longstanding regatta recognised for being an enduring and loved event at a blessed location, Corio Bay, which is a rare north-facing and protected inner harbour.

All of the Cruising and Cruiser-Racer divisions wrapped up their racing with last night’s twilight race off the front of the RGYC and today the sailing fraternity recognised the winners and the effort and sportsmanship of all participants in the 310 boat Festival fleet, a 10 per cent increase in entries on last year.

The two huge cruising with spinnaker divisions attracted significant interest, 33 in division one and 30 in division two. Kim Beveridge’s Sandringham Yacht Club Beneteau 38.5 Firefox was named winner of the Club Marine Spinnaker division two.

unnamed (2) - Festival of Sails 2014
Guido Brandt

‘‘This is my 22nd year, missed last year which we were very disappointed about, otherwise we’ve been competing consecutively and we’ve had a ball each year,' said Beveridge.

‘‘We won five years ago and we were lucky enough to come back and win it again, thanks to my crew and a great two last races. We’ll definitely be back next year. Second was John MacKay’s Farr 36 Gentlemens’ Relish and third was Gary Davison’s Clipper III.

Racing in the same division was Cameron Dickson who was bemoaning changing his Thunderbird’s name to Cracked after they were hit by a big boat in the prestart of yesterday’s Australia Day race, the second last of the four part series. The heavy hit was a major shock to the crew on the smaller 26-footer.

Bought for a few hundred dollars but with thousands spent not only in money but also hours over two years, Cracked’s restoration was complete and the boat looking a million bucks. Now it’s got a major dent in the side that will need to be repaired, but worse was the collision cut short Dickson’s Festival of Sails and the disappointment was felt by the crew.

unnamed (1) - Hobie 16 World Championships 2014

Paul and Angela Woodman’s two month-old boat Summer Wind, a Bavaria 44, has already proven its merit with a clear win in Club Marine Cruising with Spinnaker division one. When the final points were tallied there was a comfortable nine point separation to David Stoopman’s Samskara in second.

Paul has been coming to Geelong’s Festival of Sails since he was 15. This weekend brings his tally to close to 40 having missed only three, and heralds his best result in many years.

‘‘Conditions have been very good this weekend with a fresh and light wind mix and sailing on Corio Bay has been terrific, as always,' said Paul. 'It was a very interesting passage through the channel with the ships coming and going which provided a lot of excitement and variation.

On the changes over four decades he says, ‘‘It’s still a lot of fun and there’s always been a large number of boats. The spirit is very much alive at this classic Victorian yachting regatta.’’

On the team that raced Summerwind to the top spot at its first major regatta Angela elaborated, 'We had three couples plus a couple of individuals who joined the crew.' Peter Bone’s Baltic won the Coca-Cola Cruising Non-Spinnaker division.

The Cruiser-Racer division was a new initiative this year designed to separate out like boats, and the response was very encouraging.

Stuart Lyon, winner of Boags Draught Cruiser-Racer division one by three points, said 'I think it’s worked very well. We were going to sail in the Racing Series but we are only 36 feet and we find we are penalised on handicap in that division. To sail in this new division with similar boats was great. We love the flat water of Corio Bay, our boat’s designed for it.'

Sarah & Mike Wallis (Jahmali) flank Rear Commodore Sailing Karen Henderson-Williams at the Harken May Regatta Prizegiving. - Harken May Regatta 2014
© Michael Austen

Going into last night’s final twilight race Lyon and his crew knew they had to finish in the top six with their J111 from Royal Brighton Yacht Club. ‘‘We finished fourth after a restart, everyone was pushing it,' he said.

'This is our seventh festival with two boats and our second with this boat. We’ve always had good fun down here.' And on the shoreside program he was very complimentary, 'That’s a big part of the reason for coming to Geelong,' he smiled.

Adam Robinson’s Dark Energy placed second in C-R division one and Sportscar third. My Sailing Cruiser-Racer division two honours went to Kevin Curtis’ Sea Eagle by a mere half a point from Jurgen Pfeiffer’s Take Five.

The Festival of Sails’ Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson thought the new Cruiser-Race division worked really well.

‘‘It was the program they wanted and the numbers were big. ‘‘Normally we have a lot of entries in the cruising divisions and they’d only do the long race down from Melbourne then 50 or 60% would stay on for the rest of the series. This year it’s more like 80%.

‘‘It’s always hard to know what mix to offer because trends change through the years. I think we have the mix right here and that is reflected in the entries. It’s one of the few regattas around the world that is going up in entries.'

‘‘I was really happy with the race management team and the weather always helps, if it behaves itself things flow along.'

Victorian Bas Huibers’ yacht Merak claimed victory in the Geelong Taxi Network S80 Class Series, with a slim two point lead over Outlaw, raced by a syndicate of owners.

Thirty years after the first S80 hit the water, the fleet is still going strong and the competition is hotly contested with just three points separating Huibers in first place and Bill Feore’s Skipjack in third.

Four yachts took the finish gun throughout the five race series including Merak, Outlaw, Skipjack and David Collins Flying Circus, which finished fourth.

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