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Southern Spars

Last chance to enter the Festival of Sails

by Lisa Ratcliff on 17 Jan 2013
Festival of Sails 2013 © Festival of Sails http://www.festivalofsails.com.au
January is known for grabbing a bargain at the traditional post-Christmas sales. In the sporting world the homophone ‘sails’ spurs 100,000 people to the shores of Geelong and 300 plus boats and crews to Corio Bay over the Australia Day long weekend for the annual Festival of Sails.

Entries close tomorrow for this month’s Festival and the host club, Royal Geelong Yacht Club, won’t be offering an extension of entries. This means time is fast running out to be part of Australia’s largest keelboat regatta, January 24-28.

To join the Audi IRC Australian Championship fleet, the Performance Series, Cruising with or without spinnaker, Melges 24, SB20s, Classic boats, Multihulls, Noelex and other trailerables, S80s, Farr 1020s, Sydney 38s, plus others, enter here by midnight tomorrow, Friday 18 January.

A year is a long time to wait for the next Festival of Sails!!


Event history

Before the America’s Cup in 1851, before Australia won The Ashes in 1891-92, before the first Davis Cup in 1900 and before the first Melbourne Cup was run in 1861 and later won by Phar Lap in 1930, there was the Festival of Sails.

First held in 1844, the Festival has consistently attracted the highest calibre of sailing craft and crew, while being inclusive of all the different reasons for competing, and budgets.

In 1997, after the successful merger of the Geelong Waterfront Festival and the Royal Geelong Yacht Club’s historic Australia Day Regatta, a new Victorian Major Event was born, the Festival of Sails. For a time the regatta was split between Docklands and Geelong but this year, once the passage race fleet arrives on Friday 25th all the action will be centralised at Geelong.


The organising club, Royal Geelong Yacht Club takes great pride in its role as host of a family friendly regatta with a solid international reputation that attracts a majority local fleet as well as those who make the effort to travel from interstate and overseas.

Start of the passage race - Friday 25th January

Organises are running around making final preparations, competitors are checking their rides are shipshape, the bar at Royal Geelong Yacht Club is being stocked to the brim and the trophies are being polished until gleaming for the Festival of Sails.

The passage race from Williamstown to Geelong next Friday, January 25, is when most of the 300 plus boats entered in Victoria’s premier regatta, formerly Geelong Week, will gather for the largest mass yacht race start in the southern hemisphere.

Without the IRC fleet, they will have settled into their Audi IRC Australian Championship points scramble, the large multihulls are likely to lead the pack off the forward starting line on the eastern shores of Port Phillip Bay at 9.30am and take line honours in the traditional 34 nautical mile passage race to Geelong.

There will a separate multihull and monohull line honours trophy for the passage race, but no Lou Abrahams Trophy for IRC overall results given the IRC fleet will be on Corio Bay.

Audi IRC Australian Championship

The RGYC and Festival of Sails were granted the right to host this year’s national IRC championship as a single event, the new format introduced last year and again sponsored by Audi, a long-time supporter of Australian sailing.

As always, prizes supplied by luxury German car manufacturer will enhance the appeal for those teams planning to challenge for the national title.


At the conclusion of racing, the winners of classes A, B and C will be presented a letter confirming their prize of an Audi branded Code 2 spinnaker, proudly produced and supplied by North Sails Australia, along with a custom designed Audi IRC Australian Championship trophy.

Second placegetter's receive an exclusive dinner or lunch for two people at either Matt Moran's Sydney or Brisbane restaurant ARIA or Shannon Bennet’s Vue De Monde in Melbourne.

Third placegetters in each class will receive an Audi Sailing Sport team ‘uniform’ including sailing jackets, polo shirts and sailing Click here for further information on the Audi IRC Australian Click here to enter.

Melges 24

The Melges 24 class is preparing for next year’s world championship. Testament to the international standing of the RGYC and Festival of Sails was the recent announcement that next year’s class world title would be conducted by RGYC on Corio Bay off the back of the 2014 Festival of Sails.

Next week the class with gather for their nationals with Warwick Rooklyn aiming for a hat trick with Bandit. Other pedigree sailors on the starter’s list include Julian Plante, Chris Links, Gary Shanks and Kevin Nixon.

Melges 24 Australian Championship

A-Class Catamarans: http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=105643

Great entertainment program

This year’s Festival of Sails will be stepping up the wow factor with fantastic entertainment complementing the historic sailing regatta and five-day event taking place off Geelong’s Corio Bay.

Launching with a party for the sailors on Friday 25th to welcome the arrival of the Melbourne to Geelong passage race fleet and for competitors in the Audi IRC Australian Championship midway through their series, Oz Made will kick-off the Festival with a tribute to classic Aussie Rock.

Marking the end of racing on the Sunday will be the incredible Aussie rock guitar legend, Diesel.

Monday is prizegiving day for competitors and family day on the Steampacket stage with performances from Bob the Builder, the Melbourne Rebels players, balloon making, face painting and pirates, followed by some more fantastic local artists.

With over 60 free performances, including an extensive array of roaming entertainment across the entire Australia Day weekend, the Festival of Sails offers something for Click here to view the Festival Guide.


Do you have a story to tell?

The onsite media team will be working hard to sniff out and cover all the fantastic stories and identify the characters integral to this historic major event. A regular flow of press releases to the world’s media and via more interactive forums such as Facebook will give competitors the chance to have their story told and achievements – human interest or results based - highlighted.

If you haven’t already done so, please like the Facebook page where the discussion and excitement is building. Go to http://www.facebook.com/#!/Festival.of.Sails to join the group, have your say and post your fabulous feedback and photos.

If you have a story relating to the Festival worth retelling in the lead-up or during the event, please email the details to lisa@occ.com.au

For further information on the 167th Festival of Sails visit the official regatta website.

We look forward to seeing you at Geelong next week!

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