Australia’s largest keelboat regatta, the Festival of Sails, is modelled on the analogy of a set of wooden Russian dolls; the overriding regatta the largest doll and the small dolls inside the many class nationals and state titles that will be staged under the event umbrella.
Principal Race Office Denis Thompson says the appeal for classes wanting to conduct their summer championships at Geelong is due to the venue’s consistent sea breezes and flat water, the event’s reputation for first class race management and the “buzz” of being part of a dynamic existing regatta with a proud history.
“Geelong is a fantastic sailing venue, the infrastructure is already in place and Royal Geelong Yacht Club is known for its excellent race management, plus the classes can be part of the carnival atmosphere,” said Thompson.
Entries for the 2013 edition are way up on this time last year adds the PRO, “This time last year we had 10 entries and at my latest count we have 44. Owners have really responded to the early bird offer, which finishes in a couple of weeks, on December 1st”.
A new feature of the 2013 Festival of Sails, being conducted by the RGYC January 24th – 28th, is the Audi IRC Australian Championship. There’s an early show of hands from the Victorian Beneteau First 45 owners with four currently on the starters’ list, so far on par with the TP52 numbers.
The TPs are expected to feature heavily when the entry list is finalised, the class using the Festival of Sails as a warm-up for the opening event of a new three-part east coast series.
The Melges 24 class will hold its national championship and the Melges 32s will continue their Asia Pacific Series at the Festival of Sails.
“The Festival of Sails is the home of the first Australian Melges 24 championship,” said Melges 24 spokesperson Tracey Walters. “We really appreciate RGYC’s support of the class in Australia, from its infancy to the established and highly competitive fleet we have today”.
The 2013 Festival of Sails will mark the third Australian Melges 24 championship in Geelong. Kevin Nixon, runner up at last year’s nationals is looking to go one better this year. “Last year was such a good event; we had never been to Geelong but had heard about the regatta over the previous 20 years,” Nixon said today.
“As parents who race with children in their early twenties, it was great! There was something for everyone, a great atmosphere and plenty of onshore entertainment. In terms of racing, it’s a fantastic piece of water to sail on. The larger yachts go outside and the smaller keelboats race in Corio Bay. It’s got everything for us.”
The Nixon family sailing Accru will be heading off to San Francisco next year to compete in the Melges 24 world championships and racing in the Australian title on Corio Bay offers important training for their campaign.
The ability of the Festival of Sails to host and manage such a hugely successful event is behind their bid to host the 2014 Melges 24 World Championships. Australian Class President, Warwick Rooklyn, will travel to the IMCA AGM in Helsinki where the World Council is due to meet in a fortnight to announce their decision.
The SB20 class, currently preparing for the UON SB20 World Championship at Hamilton Island next month, will follow up with the Victorian state championship at the Festival of Sails in January.
New Australian Class President, Robert Jeffreys, has just stepped into outgoing President Rod Jones’ big shoes. Jeffreys says, “Over the years we’ve always had a great time at Geelong, lovely warm and windy weather, which has suited the SB20s to a tee”.
Open to all SB20s, Jeffreys is expecting the full Victorian complement and some Tasmanian entries to make up a potential fleet of 10 plus.
The A-Class Southern Championships will also be held at the 2013 Festival of Sails, story to follow.
As well the many national and state titles that make up the Russian dolls analogy, competition will be across the board with divisions within the many categories racing for top honours, right down to the one-on-one battles between similar sized boats and rum wagers between owners and crew within each division.