Festival of Sails 2013. Victoria’s homegrown talents will flood Geelong as they compete against top-notch sailors from different parts of Australia for the state’s most coveted hardware.
Victorians know how to champion a local event and the home team for this week’s Festival of Sails boats a whopping 87 percent of the 318 entries for the state’s oldest sporting trophy.
The large clubs such as Mornington and Sandringham yacht clubs, the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, and of course host club, Royal Geelong, will field the greatest number of entries for the four-day on water competition, which starts this Thursday and ends Sunday followed by Monday’s trophy presentation.
Smaller clubs, such as Albury Wodonga Yacht Club on the shores of Lake Hume, will be proudly represented by a lone member.
Boat owners from all over Victoria are preparing for either the IRC Championship or the traditional Festival of Sails, a three-day event this year starting with the 34 nautical mile Melbourne to Geelong passage race this Friday off Point Ormond, Elwood, for all but the IRC, off-the-beach, sports boats and A-Class catamarans.
New South Wales is sending 21 boats across the border into enemy territory. Three Queensland owners are making a huge effort to be part of the spectacle, as is the Western Australian Kaito and Chris Batenburg’s A-Class, Wild Thing, from the Northern Territory.
Four southerners are heading from Tasmania to test their luck against the top heavy Victorian fleet (278) with New South Wales the second largest representation, a healthy 21 entries, and South Australia third with eight starters sailing for that state.
The age-old Victorian/NSW sporting rivalry will play out most fiercely in the three classes contesting the Audi IRC Australian Championship. The class A crown is currently perched on the head of Sydney based vitamin king, Marcus Blackmore, and his well-oiled TP52 Hooligan. A couple of Victorians, in particular Rob Hanna’s Shogun V, which placed second to Hooligan by just one cruel point at the last Championship at Hamilton Island, have the weaponry and the motivation to remove it.
Cruising boat owners are the Festival’s biggest fans, and create the most fun and colour. Their numbers, 122, dwarf the remaining divisions with the Performance Series’ 41 entries the closest in terms of sheer size.
RGYC is delighted with the fleet’s diversity, 'the wide field from the mini maxi Black Jack to the Noelexs, a design that has been around since the 1960s, demonstrates that the Festival is eclectic and appealing to all manner of craft, and owner budgets,' said RGYC Commodore Andrew Nielson today.
'The club is ready for the influx of visitors who will join Geelong locals and other holidaymakers for this weekend’s party on the waterfront to celebrate Australia Day and another great Victorian event.'
The opening match of the Audi IRC Australian Championship on Geelong’s Corio Bay this Thursday will raise the curtain on the 170th edition of the Festival of Sails.
The passage race starting at 9.30am this Friday, January 25th, will open proceedings for the remaining divisions and bring the bulk of participants to Geelong. Their competition will continue on Corio Bay over the Australia Day weekend.
Racing for all divisions other than the International Cadets will finish Sunday afternoon, January 27th.
Monday January 28th marks the trophy presentation and Festival close.
A complementary shoreside family oriented program of entertainment and activities, which annually brings 100,000 people to Geelong’s waterfront, stamps the Festival of Sails as much more than a sailing regatta.
by Lisa Ratcliff
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7:47 AM Tue 22 Jan 2013GMT
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