The countdown to the 2020 Festival of Sails has well and truly begun with 100 days to go until the regatta.
Entries for the largest keelboat regatta in the southern hemisphere are on track with 3000 competitors, on 300 boats, expected to flock to Geelong’s Corio Bay over the Australia Day long weekend.
Hosted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, the regatta will be held from January 25 to January 27, 2020.
The event, which will celebrate its 177th anniversary, is expected to attract sailors from most states and territories as well as an overseas contingent. Early entries include crews from South Australia and New South Wales.
Skippers who enter their boats in the Festival of Sails before midnight November 30 will go into a draw to win a seven-day Sunsail yacht charter experience in Phuket, Thailand.
Early-bird entrant Bill Newman says the 2020 regatta is shaping up to be a family reunion of sorts, on-board Goggo.
The Festival of Sails stalwart has competed at every Festival of Sails regatta since 1987 and says he and his family look forward to it each year.
Bill usually sails with his wife Julie, sons Jake and Bart, daughter Phoebe and son-in-law Daniel, as well as a number of close friends. This year they have thrown cousins into the mix.
“It really is a family event. My kids are slowed up with babies now, but they will all be there for the Festival of Sails in January.”
Bill says he loves the action both on and off the water including the live music.
“I love the atmosphere. It is fantastic. It’s always great to find out what new entertainment acts they have performing. I have lots of friends outside of the yacht club who always want to be there to celebrate Australia Day. It’s just a great event.”
In 2019, Newman and his crew sailed on Goggo for the first time at the Festival of Sails, coming in third in Cruising Spinnaker Division 1. They will be back again on the 50ft yacht and pushing hard for line honours.
“We had 16 crew on-board and we all had shirts made up. There was a great pile of us – it was a thrill to be part of it,” Bill remembers.
Festival of Sails Chairman Stuart Dickson said the Australia Day long weekend regatta was an “exciting event which many families look forward to each year”.
“We look forward to welcoming back our regular competitors but also hope to introduce the event to others competing for the first time.”
In 2020, Festival of Sails Waterfront Festival, presented by Geelong Connected Communities, will return to Steampacket Gardens with a strong focus on on-shore activities for the whole family. A full entertainment schedule will be unveiled over the coming months.
All Festival of Sails entrants get free berthing when they enter the regatta, and all crew members receive entry to Regatta Village and access to live entertainment.
Photo Credit: Passionfolk