The 2016 Festival of Sails started off in subdued fashion, two divisions squeezing in one shortened race off the Royal Geelong Yacht Club while ashore the site was taking shape for the huge influx of sailors and visitors due to arrive tomorrow with the holiday long weekend and the Melbourne to Geelong Passage Race finish.
As the muffin and calamari food vans rolled in to set up for the four day Shoreside Festival thanks to Geelong Connected Communities, the Bausele VX One Australian Championship and Hogs Breath Sports Boat series commenced in light drizzle and winds at 5 knots out of the NNE, and fading. PRO Ted Anderson waited patiently for conditions to brighten then gave up and called it a day.
Two national titles will be decided at the Festival presented by Rex Gorell Land Rover, and the two-up crew of Alan Moffatt’s VX called Ovi One Kenobi from Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron are pleased to have fought back from a poor start to snaffle an early handicap win from Andrew York, the two-time Australian VX One champion.
“We had a terrible start that forced us out to the left, where we wanted to go anyway, and on the run to the finish we stayed out to the right in better breeze,” said Moffatt. “We are sailing light at 170kgs. Brendan Matthews and I have been together for two seasons and we have a good understanding on the boat. We don’t have huge expectations here at Geelong; we know light air isn’t our forte and we’ll go OK in breeze.”
A lighter crew weight this year, in terms of shared kilograms, suited Julian Newton’s Adelaide based Thompson 8 called Game On, sponsored by local Geelong bar Edge. Though they carry six bodies on board, Newton’s proven in the past that on Corio Bay the leverage of having plenty of guys on the rail to flatten out the hull is a faster race mode, and he confirmed it again today with a top point-earning score in the Sports Boat division.
“A win is a nice way to start!” Newton said back at RGYC during the pack-up. “It was a tricky day; our strong opening leg is what gave us the break. We’ve been doing this regatta for probably eight to 10 years, previously in Game Over and now in Game On. We love the flat water and tricky conditions; you have to have your wits about you.”
More favourable sailing conditions are on the cards for the Festival’s full complement of 276 competing crews tomorrow, Saturday January 23, 2016. South to south-west winds 10-15 knots building to 15-20 in the afternoon and a reasonable chance of showers is still welcome news for those gathered in Melbourne and specifically the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria preparing for the 0930hrs start of the Passage Race off Williamstown for at least 225 starters, carrying around 2,000 sailors to Geelong.