Festival Of Sails

175th Festival of Sails attracts Kiwi Sailors

New Zealand skipper Brian Petersen and his Kiwi crew have enjoyed a huge summer flying their country flag at successive Australian east coast sailing races and regattas.

Petersen’s Elliott 50 yacht Ran Tan II was one of two New Zealand entries in the Royal Geelong Yacht Club’s historic Festival of Sails regatta that wrapped up at Geelong, Victoria, on Sunday January 28, 2018.

On Friday, Australia Day, they lined up for the Festival of Sails’ opening Melbourne to Geelong Passage Race, a 32 nautical mile sprint from Williamstown to Geelong with the rest of the Rex Gorell Rating Series division 1 boats.

In the drifter morning start, a minor bump with another competitor cost them time while they took two penalty turns to exonerate the infringement.

“It’s never happened to us before. That hiccup cost us a lot of time and we started off a bit behind the eight ball but eventually the breeze kicked in and nature took its course,’ Peterson said. “We finished fourth on line honours in that race.”

Ran Tan spent Saturday and Sunday on out Corio Bay matching it with the other Grand Prix racers but missed out on a trophy. Matt Allen’s slippery Ichi Ban won the division overall.

Petersen said the Festival of Sails is a fantastic event. “It is amazing to see so many boats coming down the harbour, across the finish line, pouring into the marina. It’s a wonder they all fit.”

This is Petersen’s third Festival of Sails experience but the first with his boat of three years Ran Tan II, which was built in Auckland in 2006. “It is good to be here again. I did the Festival of Sails in my boat Maverick II back in 2003 when we were prepping the boat for the Melbourne to Osaka double-handed (which they won).”

Petersen, 65, has been sailing for the past 40 years. When he was 35 he discovered offshore racing and fell in love with that side of the sport. “Despite having some pretty tough trips, I just keep coming back. It’s the camaraderie, the challenge of keeping a very technical piece of equipment at its peak, the competition between the bots and the friendships you make over the years.”

The Aucklander’s participation in the Festival of Sails follows his Sydney Hobart Yacht Race tilt, where his boat was one of two Kiwi entries. It was Petersen’s fifth Sydney Hobart race.

“It was perfect weather conditions and fantastic boat speeds but we broke the prodder with about 160 miles to go which cost us two hours overall. We were running 11th or 12th on line but finished up 16th I think. It was a fantastic race.”

“The crew then delivered the boat up to Sandringham Yacht Club in Melbourne for the Australian Yachting Championship where we finished second in PHS division 1.”

Ran Tan’s delivery crew will take advantage of a good weather window and head out of Port Phillip today for the return to Auckland and resumption of club racing from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, defending club of the next America’s Cup.

John Hatch’s Sydney 36cr from Norway was another international entrant in this year’s three-day regatta which included entries from all Australian states. M’s crew sailed a great series to finish on the podium in Rating Series division 2, second on IRC handicap.

The Festival of Sails is the largest keelboat regatta in the southern hemisphere and the anniversary edition attracted more than 2500 participants across 300 plus boats.

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