Christmas has come early to the Royal Geelong Yacht Club with the news its keystone event has reached the 200th entry milestone, well ahead of the same time last year.
The 2014 January Festival of Sails is generating a significant upswing in interest and the perfect festive gift was local yachtsman and club member Casey Slater, pushing the fleet to the highpoint when he entered his Magic 25, Twist-n-Shout, in the Sports Boat division yesterday.
“I entered the last Festival and broke gear. It would be good to complete the series next January with my first sports boat,” said Slater.
“This year I’ll skipper, my father Gary is on main sheet and younger brother Dale is for’ward hand. We are still looking for a fourth crewman; they’ll have to fit in to the team of course. I’ve got a couple of cousins…”
Greg Sinclair, RGYC Club Captain and member of the Festival of Sails organising committee, has crunched the numbers for the past five Festivals. Among the emerging patterns for the 2014 event, to be staged January 21st – 27th, is a swell in cruising entries and return in droves of local boats.
“I had a seven hour airport stop-over and graphed all Festival of Sails entries since 2008,” said Sinclair. “What’s obvious is that many boat owners, particularly those from Geelong and nearby yacht clubs, who were regulars a couple of years ago have returned to the event.
“I also keep a record of entries at other major events and the pattern across the board is the growth in the cruising fleet, the mainstay of the Festival of Sails.
“In terms of interest in the Southern Hemisphere’s largest sailing regatta, we’ve never been at this stage ever. We are about 30 up on this time last year,” said Sinclair, who has bravely anticipated at final fleet of 290.
The regular entry fee now applies until January 10th when a late entry fee of $100 will kick in.
The regular entry fee for the 2014 Festival of sails, conducted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, applies to January 10th and a late entry fee of $100 will apply after thereafter.
In 2014 the event will host four Australian Championship events; the Melges 24 Australian Open Nationals, the Australian Teams Racing Championship, the Beneteau First Nationals and the Sydney 38 One Design Australian Championships.
From Tuesday 21st to Monday 27th January an extensive sailing program will cater for all levels, with 17 different classes open to keelboats and multihulls from Australia and overseas.
The event will conclude Monday 27th, the Australia Day public holiday, with the trophy presentations and the final Shoreside Festival program of activities.