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The 2019 Festival of Sails "goes green" joining global push for clean regattas

by Jessica Gabites 21 Jan 2019 21:58 PST 26-28 January 2019
2018 Festival of Sails © Salty Dingo

The Festival of Sails, with the support of Barwon Water, has joined an international campaign to provide "clean regattas" in a bid to protect our local waters.

The Festival of Sails, which starts on Saturday, has registered with the Sailors for the Sea Clean Regatta program, to provide a more environmentally friendly event and better protect local waters.

Event organiser, the Royal Geelong Yacht Club (RGYC), is aiming to achieve Silver Status for this year's event, held in Geelong from Saturday, January 26 to Monday, 28, 2019.

Sailors for the Sea is the world's only ocean conservation organisation that engages, educates, inspires and activates the sailing and boating community toward healing the ocean.

The Clean Regatta program was established in 2009 and is the world's leading and only sustainability certification for water-based events. It provides a step-by-step system for regatta organisers to benchmark what their environmental footprint is today and set goals for the future. It also empowers sailors with tips and resources to implement sustainability initiatives.

Since it started, the voluntary, self-assessment tool has been utilised more than 1,365 times in 36 countries.

The Festival of Sails will partner with Barwon Water to provide 3500 free re-usable drink bottles for competitors and volunteers. Barwon Water will also provide a refill station inside the Regatta Village (inside the Royal Geelong Yacht Club grounds) for competitors and volunteers.

This new initiative aims to cut down on more than 1500 plastic bottles of water that are normally purchased. Barwon Water will also provide their Hydration Station for the public on Eastern Beach Reserve, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own reusable drink bottles.

As part of the commitment to reducing plastic that ends up in the ocean, all market and food vendors taking part in the Festival of Sails have been asked not to provide plastic straws or plastic bags with their products and to provide alternatives to plastic plates and cutlery.

According to Clean Up Australia, Australians spend $500 million on bottled water each year. Although plastic bottles are recyclable, many end up in landfill and take up to 1000 years to break down. Australians also use about 10 million straws every day, or 3.5 billion a year.

Festival of Sails chairman Stuart Dickson said "the sailing and boating community is 12 million strong, and in running the Festival of Sails with a Clean Regatta focus, we believe it can become a catalyst to better engage with boaters and encourage them to protect our waters".

"We are proud to announce that we have joined the campaign to restore ocean health with Sailors for the Sea's Clean Regattas program and we are delighted with the support of Barwon Water to achieve this. Obviously, protecting our local waters is a primary concern for our regatta."

The criteria for achieving silver status in the Clean Regatta includes public engagement, water bottle reduction, water refilling stations, recycling and eight more "best practices".

Some of the initiatives the Festival of Sails will be aiming for this weekend, as part of the Clean Regatta checklist, include recycling (1:1 ratio of rubbish to recycling) and eliminating single use bags (removing plastic bags from market stalls).

The RGYC has also removed the requirement for bow stickers for Saturday's Melbourne to Geelong Passage Race, removing a significant amount of plastic (about 500m2 of printed decals), some of which peel off and end up in the water.

Barwon Water General Manager Customers and Community Jo Murdoch said "Barwon Water was proud to support the festival to reduce its use of single-use plastics".

"Barwon Water shares the festival's commitment to preventing plastic pollution by encouraging people to drink tap water instead of bottled water, which can end up in landfill or in our oceans, threatening precious marine life," Ms Murdoch said.

"With one litre of bottled water costing about the same at 6,000 glasses from the tap, it not only helps the environment, but the hip pocket too."

For details about the 2019 Festival of Sails, visit

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