The Festival of Sails is being held from Thursday 23rd until Monday 27th January 2014. The Royal Geelong Yacht Club is humming with the final preparations before the start of racing tomorrow for two divisions and the mass influx of sailors arriving Friday 24th January with the Melbourne to Geelong passage race.
Regatta village construction is in the final stages, stock is being delivered and the fridges filled, Melges 24 crews weighed, signs and flags are being hung and hoisted and the race buoys that will be the starting, finishing and turning marks for the massive on-water program that is about to roll out, inflated.
The Gill Melges 24 Australian Open Nationals commence tomorrow and most of the class heavyweights are in town for the lead-in event to their world championship starting Wednesday 29th January to Sunday 2nd February, 2014.
Over the next four days teams from the USA, Germany and Italy will familiarise themselves with the course area and local conditions. The Australian teams already acquainted with Corio Bay will take the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the more fancied international teams, and maybe learn a thing or two about their battle plan.
Festival of Sails event chairman and Royal Geelong Yacht Club Rear Commodore Paul Smart says, 'We’ve had a great response in an environment where entries are tending to decline. We are very pleased with the uptake.'
The Festival of Sails fleet stands at 310 and is a melting pot of cruising boats, production boats, off-the-beach, classic yachts, multihulls, sports boats and one-design classes.
Nine Sydney 38s will kick off their Australian title on Friday and the Beneteau First Australian Championship and Victorian IRC and AMS Championships will be contested under the Racing Series banner.
Running the business of getting that many boats out racing each day is Sydney based Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson, chief of almost 90 on-water volunteers and officials allocated to six race management teams working across six different courses spanning the inner and outer harbour of Corio Bay and further offshore for the long races.
Thompson foreshadows easterlies for the first day of competition for the Melges 24s and Sports Boats which, depending on tomorrow’s daytime temperature, could pull around to a SE sea breeze.
On Friday a spinnaker start in light northerly breezes is the likely scenario for the Melbourne to Geelong passage race starting off Elwood at 9.30am for a fleet of 230 yachts. A mid-afternoon sou’west change may meet those still tracking across Port Phillip to Geelong to join the Australia Day long weekend party at RGYC.
Saturday is looking like 15 knots out of the SW, which may be reinforced by the sea breeze.
Friday and Saturday are looking like good weather days.
The event will conclude Monday 27th, the Australia Day public holiday, with the trophy presentations and the final Shoreside Festival program of activities.
Results and Entry List available here
Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions available here
by Lisa Ratcliff
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12:17 PM Wed 22 Jan 2014GMT
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2014 Festival of Sails
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