Please select your home edition
North Sails 2021 Innovation - LEADERBOARD

Festival of Sails Overall: Winners declared at another successful event

by Di Pearson/Festival of Sails 28 Jan 23:38 PST 26-29 January 2023

A grey sky, light breeze and showers prefaced the final day of Royal Geelong Yacht Club's 2023 Festival of Sails, but nothing was going to wipe the smiles from competitors faces, particularly those who were still in the running for trophies and divisional top three places.

The Passage Spinnaker Series attracted the largest numbers, while the Passage Rating Series was next best. The event also hosted the Melges 24 Australian Championship and the S80 Series.

In all, there were 297 boats split between 13 series and multiple divisions, while the VIC Sailing League held its two-day final and the Cadet dinghies, synonymous with the Festival of Sails, also raced.

It was no walk in the park, the weather threw challenging conditions at competitors - shifty winds that bent in all directions and light winds from 1 to 10 knots for the most.

Passage Rating Divisions

The grand prix yachts of the fleet raced in these divisions. Gordon Ketelbey's Zen, from Division 0, was hot from the opening day when the NSW based TP52 took line honours in the 180th Passage Race and ended the IRC overall winner from Tasmanian Andrew Smith's Cockwomble and Sebastian Bohm's TP52, Smuggler (NSW).

Damian Thomas' PPI, a Cape 31 one-design from Melbourne won AMS overall, the predominant scoring system used in Victoria. Cam McKenzie and Nigel Jones' Ginan and Robert Date's Scarlet Runner filled out the top three.

Division 1 came down to three boats in IRC; Bruce McCraken's Ikon, Alan Woodward's Reverie (she won the Passage Race) and Bill Barry-Cotter's Maritimo, with Michael Spies at the helm. And that is how it finished.

Under AMS, it was Ikon again. McCraken and Ikon are the reigning Division 2 Australian Yachting Championships victor. Mark Nicholson's Javelin was second, while Phil Bedlington's BKT JAMHU claimed third place.

Division 2's results were clear-cut. Ari Abrahams' X-Yacht, Xpresso, cleaned up in IRC with five straight wins and AMS, winning four from five races. Paul and Sally Neilson's Northshore 33, De Ja Blue, won Division 3 under AMS by 11 points.

"We had a great series. We had a ball. We had great racing with Pompette; Ryan's (Blackstock) always great competition. And the Sydney 32's. The conditions were fantastic. It was fairly light, which suited our boat, so we were lucky," Paul Neilson, the Hobsons Bay Yacht Club Commodore said.

Melges 24 Australian Championship

Banta is the 2023 Melges 24 Australian Champion. Chris Links and his solid crew from NSW were a force to be reckoned with. Banta hardly faltered, scoring victory in eight out of nine races. Second was a past champion in Kevin Nixon's Accru crew, also from NSW. Peter Kendall's Amigos crew were third and the only ones to take a race from Banta.

Passage Spinnaker Series

These divisions produced the most entries (and therefore the most colour) across the board, making it harder to win.

Division 1: John Chipp's Dehler 46, Hot Chips, was the eventual winner after a four-day battle, mainly with Steven Fahey's Cartouche. The latter led into the day, but finished third overall, letting Peter Russell's Vincintore sneak past them into second.

Division 2: Went to Robert Hare's Holdfast after a series-long battle. Mark Cunnington's Panacea rose to second, with Cam Rae's Barracuda taking third.

Division 3: Don McDonell's Adams 10 Cruising design, Red Dog, flirted with the top of the leaderboard throughout and won from Graeme Jones' Razzle Dazzle.

"It's fantastic to win," an elated McDonell commented. "We blew a race yesterday and lost the overall lead, so we got onto it today and fixed it," he said after winning the final race. It's not easy to win this event or to run it. The Club did a fantastic job running these races.

"We've never won before. We've come close, but never quite got there. The crew is stoked. Red Dog and the crew will come back every year we can."

S80 win goes to... Intrusion

Intrusion put her best bow forward yet again. Luke Reinehr and crew won five of the six races on the back of victory at the 2023 Victorian Championship - their 15th S80 title.

"A great week," Reinehr said. "it's always a lot of fun at Geelong - it's good to be back. The crew did a really good job and we had really close racing. I will always come back to the Festival of Sails. We've got it sorted on the calendar every year."

Bas Huibers and the Merak crew were runners-up, as they were at the Victorian Championship. Huibers had this to say: "It is really hard to beat Intrusion. Today we led them, but they caught us in the end and pipped us by a second!

"You can occasionally get ahead of them. We've beat them a handful of times over 20 years, but this year was not one of them. Intrusion has consistent crew that have sailed together for many, many years. That's why they're so good.

"The Race Committee set great courses for us," he said. "We'll definitely be back. We have great camaraderie among the S80 fleet and families enjoy sailing them."

In other results, Gordon Beath's Chamberlin 14, Roamance, overcame challenges from Ross Hines' Lu Lu and Dave Ruffin's Kavala in Multihull EHC - and that is how it finished.

In the Guyon Wilson Trophy Series sailed in Etchells, Chris Manton's Tiger could not beaten, winning all but one race. Stalwart of the regatta, Brendan Garner, settled for second and Blake Robertson's Matilda placed third.

Festival of Sails Chairman, Paul Buchholz, said Royal Geelong Yacht Club was thrilled to see numbers up again, following two years where Covid restricted numbers.

"In this regard, I would like to thank Royal Geelong Yacht Club's Steve Harper for his vision and his assistant, Fleur Morrow and their teams," Buchholz said.

"We had fantastic racing. Competitors were happy with the courses, although there was a bit of confusion with the start lines.

"A major part of our event was the 180th Passage Race. There were 259 boats on the start lines all headed to Geelong for the rest of the series. It was pumping at the Club and in Geelong over the entire weekend.

"I think it's one of the best Festival of Sails we've ever run with the set-up of the stages, villages, food outlets and entertainment in general.

"None of this would be possible without the support of the Victorian government, City of Greater Geelong and our loyal sponsors. Without their help, we wouldn't be able to showcase the waterfront as well as we have," Buchholz said.

"Underpinning the success of the Festival are the unsung heroes and that is our volunteers: From the race management team, who were exceptional throughout, to the lady who ran around with a trolley watering all the plants and the ladies constantly emptying the rubbish bins. They are all invaluable.

"The first night in Geelong there were over 4500 people here enjoying the hospitality and catching up with old friends.

"Our entertainment extended to Eastern Beach and included three volleyball courts that were active for three days and Fairnie Park, where we had a mixture of entertainment for adults and children.

"Finally, we'd like to thank all competitors for coming to compete. Without their active participation, the Festival of Sails would not be possible. It's our intention to continue to grow this event and foster relations with kindred clubs and their sailors, along with interstate boats and their guests."

Due to the sheer magnitude of this event, we could not cover all classes and divisions. For full results and more, please visit:

Related Articles

Festival of Sails' back bigger and better in 2023
Celebrating 180 years of the iconic passage race and ready to party! Geelong's Festival of Sails will be celebrating a major milestone and is ready to party when it returns in January 2023, as it salutes the 180th anniversary of its iconic Passage Race between Melbourne and Geelong. Posted on 19 Dec 2022
Festival of Sails 2021 cancelled
Royal Geelong Yacht Club Board make the difficult decision The Festival of Sails Executive Committee and the Royal Geelong Yacht Club (RGYC) Board have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 Festival of Sails, which was scheduled for Saturday 23 - Tuesday 26 January, 2021. Posted on 15 Oct 2020
Shutters come down on MacGlide Festival of Sails
The TP52 division offered spectacularly close racing Some of the thousands of MacGlide Festival of Sails sailors weary from three days of racing and partying over the Australia Day long weekend are fortunate to be heading home with a trophy for their efforts. Posted on 27 Jan 2020
MacGlide Festival of Sails wraps up
RGYC sets its sights on 2022 Youth Worlds As the MacGlide Festival of Sails wraps up for 2020, the Geelong Yacht Club has its sights on winning the rights to host the 2022 Youth World Sailing Championships - the world's ultimate youth sailing regatta. Posted on 27 Jan 2020
MacGlide Festival of Sails Super Sunday
A chance to blow away the cobwebs from a long opening day passage race For thousands of sailors gathered at Geelong, Australia Day was also 'Super Sunday' at the MacGlide Festival of Sails and a chance to blow away the cobwebs from a long opening day passage race down from Melbourne. Posted on 26 Jan 2020
RGYC announces FOS naming rights partnership
RGYC is proud to announce the 2020 Festival of Sails naming rights partnership Royal Geelong Yacht Club (RGYC) is proud to announce the 2020 Festival of Sails naming rights partnership between the club and MacGlide, by Mactac, a world leading biocide-free fouling release film manufacturer. Posted on 2 Dec 2019
Aussie rock performers set for Festival of Sails
Free, live entertainment from Richard Clapton and more Australia's biggest celebration of sailing Festival of Sails will have a distinctive rock 'n' roll flavour in 2020 with renowned Aussie singer/songwriter Richard Clapton headlining the line-up for the Australia Day long-weekend event. Posted on 16 Nov 2019
Separate TP52 division at the Festival of Sails
TP52s will be granted their own start line and scored under IRC and TPR handicap systems The TP52s will be granted their own start line and scored under IRC and TPR handicap systems, the latter a class rule developed by the Australia owner's group that takes into account different generations of the popular design. Posted on 8 Nov 2019
Festival of Sails long-range forecast Extreme
Two Queensland based Extreme 40s will head to the event in January 2020 Two Queensland based Extreme 40s will head to Geelong's 2020 Festival of Sails in January to unleash on idyllic flat-water, powered by the local and very reliable afternoon summer sea breeze. Posted on 1 Oct 2019
Festival of Sails signs partnership with Musto
Three-year partnership with premier sailing brand The Royal Geelong Yacht Club is delighted to announce the Festival of Sails has appointed Musto as technical apparel and merchandise partner for the next three years. Posted on 26 Sep 2019
J Composites 2022 - J45 v4 FOOTERZhik 2022 Choice of Champions FOOTERSailGP_Technologies_Foil_1456x180 BOTTOM