Entries for the 2013 Festival of Sails opened yesterday and within minutes the Royal Geelong Yacht Club had received its first applicant, the very keen Paul Lindemann entering his Victorian Beneteau 50, Biddy Hu II.
Top Yacht barely had time to boot up before Lindemann plugged in his details and was declared the first official entry in the Cruising Series, quickly followed by two fellow Victorians.
Biddy Hu II first entry for Festival of Sails 2013 John Curnow - copyright
Lindemann is an avid Festival of Sails fan. The regatta reminds him of his dinghy days but on a grand scale, a time when he and fellow Laser crews raced all day followed by the obligatory tall tales and camaraderie on the dock and back at the yacht club. He's noticed at other events some crew bypassing this long held sailing tradition and heading straight back to their apartment after racing, something he and his Altona Yacht Club mates won't be doing at Geelong!!
In 2013 and 2014 Australia Day falls on the weekend. Taking on board competitor feedback, the RGYC will wrap up racing on the Sunday to give crews an opportunity to attend the trophy presentation early on the Monday morning and still allow interstate and overseas visitors time to travel home on the public holiday before the school term starts (Tuesday for VIC and NSW schools, check your Department of Education website for other states).
Entries received by November 30th will be eligible for an early bird discount of $50 off the regular entry fee, which will apply from December 1st to January 11th, 2013, and a late entry fee of $100 thereafter. The message is, get your entry in this month before the price rises.
Entries for the Audi IRC Australian Championship, awarded in 2013 to Festival of Sails organisers to be staged in conjunction with the country's largest keelboat regatta, opened some weeks ago to strong interest.
In preparation for their standalone regatta at Sandringham Yacht Club following the Festival of Sails, Australia and New Zealand's growing fleet of TP52s is expected to stage one almighty battle while larger fish, such as the Queensland 66 footer, Black Jack, are also aiming to be right among the mix like they were at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August.
As Black Jack's skipper Mark Bradford cautions, to have another crack at the IRC championship at Geelong first they have come out the other end of the Sydney Hobart unscathed.
The RGYC welcomes other Rolex Sydney Hobart boats considering detouring or returning to Victorian ports and extends a warm invitation to enter the Championship or the Festival of Sails.
Stephen Ainsworth's pedigreed RP63, Loki, sadly won't be among the starters at Geelong with Ainsworth announcing he's hanging up his sea boots (for now) and taking a well-earned break after he attempts to defend his 2011 Sydney Hobart overall win.
With Marcus Blackmore's multi-year near-perfect scorecard with his TP52 Hooligan, and given he'll be seeking to vigorously defend the IRC champion's mantle awarded at Hamilton Island Race Week less than five months prior, there's the potential for back-to-back wins for Blackmore and his all-star crew.
The 2013 Festival of Sails will reach out to regatta participants and festival visitors in a new and exciting way.
It may be the oldest sporting event in Victoria and the history is proudly embraced, but equally organisers are moving with the times and even further into the wonderful world of social media.
The 2013 festival will see an even more active social media presence, enabling savvy yachties to share their stories and images through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and be part of competitions and promotions.
Event organisers are inviting all social media lovers to join the festival's online community and share their 2013 experience, as well as past experiences, with the chance to pick up a prize via the promotions which will soon be announced.
Following the Festival of Sails via social media will put fans in the heart of the action with up-to-the-minute information and updates from the water as well as reminders about upcoming entertainment and shoreside activities.
This will assist sailors and their families to plan their visit to Geelong and make the most of what's on offer.
If you aren't already following the Festival of Sails, here are the links;
Here you'll find lots of information on berthing (free for competing yachts), secure compound storage for trailers, opening hours, living aboard your boat on the marina during the regatta, special regs, and the register offered by the club's sailing office to match up owners short of crew and vica versa.
For enquiries regarding the Festival of Sails contact RGYC sailing manager, Rodney Hagebols, on +61 (3) 5229 3705 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We suggest you don't leave it too late to check out the wide range of nearby accommodation as it's a very busy time of year with the Australian Open on in Melbourne and other holiday delights on offer in and around Geelong.
More information to help you book your stay will be coming shortly, in the meantime it might be helpful to know that Avalon domestic airport http://www.avalonairport.com.au/ is the closest airport and you'll need to book flights with Jetstar http://www.jetstar.com/au/en/home. Tullamarine is the nearest international airport.
The extensive Shoreside Festival designed to complement the on-water program warrants an entire newsletter of its own. Keep an eye out for details of the heady program of activities guaranteed to keep your shore crew and family entertained all day, and running well into the evening for the grownups.
The traditional Australia Day celebrations and fireworks at night on Saturday 26 January will be a cracker!!