Entries for this year’s Festival of Sails closed on Sunday and organisers, New Tack and the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, are delighted with the late surge of applications, which pushed the fleet size to a very respectable 316.
It’s another solid show of hands for Victoria’s oldest sporting trophy and one of Australia’s premier yachting regattas.
Event manager Jav Greaves said, 'Currently we have 316 boats entered for the Festival of Sails 2012 and with RGYC deciding to waive late entry fees, those latecomers who need a little more time to submit their paperwork could boost numbers even higher'.
The Festival of Sails will kick start this weekend with a key showpiece opening proceedings. The invitational two-day Premier Racing Series has been made a standalone event and Virgin Tea has thrown its support behind the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria hosted IRC regatta.
'With the great prizes on offer for the Melbourne Premier Racing fleet winners, we hope to see a larger fleet and some high end racing at the top of the Bay as a prologue to the iconic Passage Race,' added Greaves.
Principle race officer Denis Thompson will preside over a strong Victorian fleet, including primed Rolex Sydney Hobart handicap runner up and Festival of Sails regular, Michael Hiatt’s Farr 55 Living Doll, and the visiting teams from New Zealand, Western Australia and South Australia looking to take home some silverware for their efforts.
Jason van der Slot’s TP52, Calm, a top five finisher in the Boxing Day blue water ocean classic, is another Victorian boat in the groove. Both skippers will be keeping a close eye on Rob Hanna’s Shogun V, the replacement TP52 for his older generation TP, which is making its debut hit-out on local waters, and Jim Farmer’s well campaigned NZ Botin and Carkeek 52, Georgia.
The eight-strong Sydney 38 fleet will join the larger grand prix IRC fleet for this weekend’s windward/leeward series. Up to three races are scheduled on Port Philip for both fleets on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 January, 2012.
On Australia Day, Thursday January 26, the rest of the Festival of Sails entrants will amass off Williamstown, Melbourne, for the 34 nautical mile passage race to Geelong where the Festival will expand and continue through to the closing day, Sunday January 29.
A number of classes will contest their national championship as part of the Festival of Sails 2012, including the Melges 24s class which is lining up for its fifth Australian title bout. Among the Melges competitors will be local Royal Geelong Yacht Club champions, the Farrimond family of four brothers and their father, racing Vitesse.
For the first time, the Farr 1020s will hold their national championship in conjunction with the Festival of Sails while the SB3s class will be scored for their state championship. The well travelled one design SB3 class will be represented by north Queensland teams joining their NSW and Victorian classmates.
When the Festival is in full swing, Geelong’s Corio Bay will be bustling with multihulls, S80s, Super 30s, Sports Boats, Elliott 7s, J24s, classic and trailable yachts, among others, plus the many race management teams charged with running course areas and feeding results back to race HQ at RGYC.
'With over 3000 competitors expected to participate in this year’s Festival of Sails, and more than 100,000 visitors to the Community Shoreside Festival, Royal Geelong Yacht Club relies heavily on its great team of over 300 volunteers and staff,' said Greaves.
'The team of 150 plus on-water volunteers will ensure that all participants enjoy the safe, quality racing they have come to expect from Geelong Week'.
While standard entries have formally closed, RGYC is welcomes late entries and has generously waived late entry fees for 2012.
Entries will be accepted up until 1700hrs on Tuesday 25 January, 2012.
By Lisa Ratcliff/Festival of Sails media