It’s been an amazing winning streak for Geelong sailor Paul Bucholtz and his eXtasea crew over the last few weeks. Now the question is ... can the offshore champions keep it up?
Bucholtz and crew won the prestigious Boxing Day Dash on Port Phillip and then took line honours and the handicap victory in the 40th Heemskirk Melbourne to Hobart Westcoaster. Not content with that, they won the King of the Derwent in Hobart against a 41 boat fleet, including a number of Sydney Hobart winners, and the win delivered them the overall Sovereign Offshore Series victory.
Now the offshore champion's next challenge is Victoria’s Festival of Sails.
Paul Bucholtz explains. ‘We have had a sensational year but now our focus is on the Festival of Sails. We race on both Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd on Port Phillip from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, Williamstown and then there is the traditional Australia Day Festival of Sails passage race from Williamstown to Geelong’s Corio Bay on January 26th. We then race right through to Sunday 29th January at Royal Geelong Yacht Club.
‘There will be good competition in all the Festival of Sails IRC divisions.
‘In 2011 we were a close second in our IRC division but we are on a roll, so we are looking to going one better. We have had great offshore success with our DK46 but many consider them an even better around the cans racing boat, so we have no excuses this year.'
‘We have a core crew of Geelong sailors who have been sailing together for about 20 years. We are all getting old together but we still know how to manage the boat and know each others ins and outs, so that's good.
‘We have introduced a lot of the young guys that are now guns around the world to offshore sailing. So for this event we have a mixture of old core and more young, new guys coming on.
‘Last year we had the famous American sailor Dave Ullman on board and he was fantastic. Dave took us to another level and many of those things he taught us we used all year.
‘We are a bunch of amateurs and we just excel at having a great time together.’
For the Festival of Sails 2012 the organising club, the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, has announced that with confirmation of a number of new sponsors they have been able to reduce the entry fees very significantly and there has been a flood of entries in the last two weeks.
Event organiser Jav Greaves commented ‘We are pleased that with support from new sponsors we have been able to bring entry costs down, so the event continues to be affordable and accessible for a wide range of competitors.
‘This year we have a really strong onshore program with key acts inside the yacht club precinct including Frankie J Holden and Wilbur Wilde and the ACDC tribute band Thunderstruck.
‘We are looking forward to another successful regatta.'
With the close of entries extended until 5:00pm on Sunday 15 January, skippers still have time to enter.
All entrants will go into the draw for a chance to win two places on the Mariner Boating Holidays 2013 Aegean Yacht Rally, the annual rally through the Greek Dodecanese Islands and along the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.
This 168 year old multi award winning event is a permanent fixture on the Victorian Major Events calendar, attracting up to 400 yachts and 4,500 competitors to Melbourne and Geelong over the Australia Day holiday period.