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181st Festival of Sails concludes with a parade of colour

by Nic Douglass 28 Jan 02:59 PST 26-28 January 2024

Festival of Sails 2024 concluded its 181st edition with a day of shifty, lighter winds that saw some big jumps in standings across all nine divisions. Corio Bay was awash with colour as the courses spread the fleet across the inner and outer Harbours.

Out on the water it was a tight tussle between the three high-profile TP52 class boats, 'Hooligan', 'Secret Men's Business' and 'Smuggler' which won its division in the 2023 Sydney to Hobart.

Ultimately, it was Marcus Blackmore's new 'Hooligan' which won the grand prix TP52 Division at this weekend's regatta, the oldest keelboat sailing regatta in the Southern Hemisphere.

"I built the Blackmore's vitamins business on culture and this boat and team are also built on culture. With this new boat, I thought we had built the world's lightest and fastest TP52, but you don't know that until you get to race it, now I know that we have!" said Marcus.

"A fast boat is nothing without a fast crew, so my thanks to them and I dedicate this win to my good friend Lang Walker who passed away last night and gave so much to our sport."

The W L Curtis Cadet Sprint Series was won by current National Champion Joshua Garner and Jack Benyan on Ringo, over the six races sailed, with Leo Church and Zachary Cross on Pepsea in second and Cate McCoy and Jack O'Brien in third on Mustang Sally.

In the Passage Rating Division 1, it was Team Hollywood, skippered by Ray Roberts who were the big winners, on both AMS and IRC. ORC was taken out by Sandringham based Fargo, skippered by Ari Abrahams.

In Passage Rating Division 2, ORC and IRC was won by Michael Spies and his team on Maritimo 54, Bruce McCraken's IKON took out the AMS.

Passage Rating Division 3 ORC Executive Decision, William Sheers, AMS Aileron, Leo Cantwell and IRC, Scott Robinson on How Bizarre.

Passage Rating Division 4, on ORC and AMS, David Suda & Herschel Landes on Watermark II.

Passage Spinnaker Division 1 was won by Ian Fankhanel on Salt, Passage Spinnaker Division 2 was taken out by Mrs Overnewton, skippered by Doug Charters, the Passage Spinnaker Division 3 winner was Marg Neeson's Wild Child, and Passage Spinnaker Division 4 was won by Ron Brown's Buck.

Passage Non-Spinnaker was won by John Strahan's True Colours, who stood in for the winners of the Geelong Advertisers Team Trophy, Scarlet Runner, Fargo and Archie on behalf of the Sandringham Yacht Club.

The One Design section of the regatta was closely fought. The Melges 24 Nationals were won by Chris Links and his team on Banta over the eight race series, and the Guyon Wilson Class Series sailed on the Etchells class was won by Blake Robertson's Matilda. The S80 Series was won by Bas Huibers' Merak on Scratch and IRC.

The Passage Mini Series was convincingly won by Goggo, owned by William Newman.

The Classic Yacht Series was won by the most beautiful yacht in the RGYC marina, KA1 Marie Louise III, the stunning 8 Metre owned and skippered by Scott Taylor.

The Multihull Series was fought by Tiger and Medosa, with Tiger taking out OMR and Medosa prevailing in EHC. The Passage Mornington Peninsula Series was exceptionally well received for its return in this edition with 15 boats across three divisions making their way through four races throughout the weekend.

The outgoing Festival of Sails Chairman, Paul Buchholz said he was delighted with this year's event despite some challenging sailing conditions over the three days.

"The opening Passage Race was pretty testing on all involved, with 200 boats battling fierce conditions in some tight and fast racing," he said.

"On the waterfront, we've had 100,000 visitors and participants and big crowds enjoying some fabulous entertainment and hospitality, we've had people trying sailing for the first time, we've had beach volleyball, markets and plenty to see and do."

"We've also given the club site and our entertainment and hospitality areas a major makeover and really brought the party atmosphere to life!"

"And now after two years in the role, I'm proud to be handing over the baton to the next Chairman of this fabulous event and can see it continuing to blossom even further for the 2025 event. Can't wait!"

The Festival of Sails is proudly supported by the Victorian Government and the City of Greater Geelong.

Video on Facebook here...

Full results for all divisions at

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