The Festival of Sails fleet has cracked the 300 mark with only a few hours left for boat owners to submit entries. Tonight at midnight, Monday 20th January 2014, the gates close and tomorrow the week-long on-water program commences.
Steven Carey’s Victorian boat Dejavu was the 300th entry and that figure has since risen to 309, just three shy of last year’s final figure with still time left to be part of the 171st edition.
A passage race for the Multihull Division opens the curtain tomorrow, Tuesday 21st January, and on Thursday 23rd January the Melges 24 Australian Open National Championships begins with the first of 10 windward/leeward races, a precursor to the ensuing Gill Melges 24 World Championship 2014.
On Friday 24th January its anchors away for the greater part of the mammoth fleet for the 34 nautical mile Melbourne to Geelong passage race. The Hon. Hugh Delahuny, Minister for Sport and Recreation will fire the start cannon at 9.30am off Point Ormond to signal the largest single start of a yacht race in the Southern Hemisphere.
Back on Geelong’s Corio Bay on Friday the Sydney 38s will join the sports boats and Melges 24s for the start of their respective series.
Carey was delighted to be named 300th entry. After suffering a knockdown in the Sydney Hobart yacht race in 16-18 metre seas and 70 knot winds the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria member has booked in for some Festival therapy.
'We were one of four yachts caught out to the north of Flinders Island, said Carey. 'We were hove to when we were knocked down. After we had recovered we took a secret vote whether to head to St. Helens or Hobart. One hundred percent of the motley crew wanted to continue on.
'We’ve done several Festival of Sails and given what we’ve just been through, we thought it would be good therapy.
'The sailing at Geelong is comfortable and the hospitality is good. It’s a great series and we wouldn’t miss out.'
Carey noticed the huge interest in the cruising with spinnaker division and the pedigree of boats being entered, and decided that was the company for him.
The Festival attracts 100,000 people to Geelong’s waterfront and is regarded a Victorian major event that brings thousands of additional visitors to the region over the Australia Day long weekend.
From Tuesday 21st to Monday 27th January 2014 an extensive sailing program will cater for all levels, with 14 different classes open to keelboats and multihulls from Australia and overseas.
The event will conclude Monday 27thJanuary, the Australia Day public holiday, with the trophy presentations and the final Shoreside Festival program of activities.
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by Lisa Ratcliff
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5:05 PM Mon 20 Jan 2014GMT
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