The love of sport in Australia is undeniable and Victoria has long been held as the ‘Sporting Capital’ of this country. Before the America’s Cup in 1851, before Australia won The Ashes in 1891-92, before the first Davis Cup in 1900 and before the first Melbourne Cup was run in 1861 and later won by Phar Lap in 1930, there was the Festival of Sails.
Imagine being part of an event on water that combines history with tradition; heritage with technology; tactics with teamwork; while music and fine food waft across the ocean from a festival of shore based entertainment. First held in 1844, the Festival of Sails has consistently attracted the highest calibre of sailing craft and crew, family and friends, attracting over 110,000 visitors.
In 1997, the successful merger of the Geelong Waterfront Festival and the Royal Geelong Yacht Club’s historic Regatta, saw the beginning of a new Victorian Major Event – the Festival of Sail.
Despite numerous name changes over the years, thanks to generous corporate support, the essence of the event has remained true, as the largest annual yachting regatta in the Southern Hemisphere and Geelong’s Australia Day Festival.
The Festival of Sails has evolved over many years culminating in its’ current position as the foremost competitive keelboat regatta in Australia. The event has consistently attracted both brilliant yachts and a public keen to soak up the essence of the event and Royal Geelong Yacht Club takes great pride in its role as host of a regatta whose reputation as a global player expands each year.
1844 – First running of the Passage Race from Melbourne to Geelong
1859 – Royal Geelong Yacht Club is officially founded
1897 – His Excellency wins the Regatta
1901 – Fireworks to celebrate the inauguration of the Commonwealth
1909 – The Jubilee Regatta
1925 – Regatta is hosted by RGYC for the first time
1946 – The Geelong Advertiser Trophy is introduced
1986 – With 361 yachts, the regatta is now the largest keelboat regatta in the Southern Hemisphere
1997 – Event name officially changes from the Australia Day Regatta to the Festival of Sail
1998 – The event receives International television exposure
2001 – Tallships and Classics add to the festivities
2003 – Joint Venture between City of Greater Geelong & the Festival of Sail sees growth of event to include a Shoreside Festival
2004 – The event becomes known as ‘Skandia Geelong Week’
2007 – Expansion to Melbourne, with part of the event held at Docklands
2010 – New sponsor Audi Australia sees the event takes on a new name, ‘Audi Victoria Week’
2012 – A ‘new’ name & brand; the event embraces its history & once again becomes known as the ‘Festival of Sails’
2015 – Rex Gorell Land Rover become the naming rights sponsor for the Festival of Sails
2015 – Geelong Connected Communities partner with the Festival of Sails to sponsor the waterfront activities for the wider public
2018 – We will celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Melbourne – Geelong Passage Race
We invite you to share in our history, and to become a part of our future!