Big winds tested all the cruising and classic divisions on the final day of the Festival of Sails 2017 presented by Rex Gorell Land Rover. Cool and fresh SW-SE breezes on Tuesday January 24 provided relief after Monday’s scorcher that came with super funky winds, leaving 220 keelboat crews scratching their hot heads.
Tuesday made a lot more sense and most handled the conditions, though some spinnakers were sacrificed and there was the occasional unplanned gybe, or broach.
Saskia Clark, Rio Olympics 2016 gold medallist in the 470 class was in town for media duties with VRsport.tv and after going out on Rating Series 2 winner Ikon said this of her outing: “We were seeing 22 knots by the end of the race and we ripped our kite in half down the tapes. It was a really bandy breeze, we saw a couple of broaches and we experienced one very close up,” she smiled.
Cruising AMS division 1 & 2
It was hard to argue with Jon Lechte’s five firsts in five races with his Cookson 12 A Cunning Plan (SYC), winner of the Cruising AMS division 1 (AMS) from Jen and Brenton Carnell’s Phoenix.
“It was fun out there today, we had a good run with the guys from Phoenix over the four days,” Lechte said. “This is a big regatta. You race against different boats at this event, boats you don’t often see plus boats that come out just to race at the festival. More boats are always better!
“We’ll be back. This regatta and Hamilton Island stand out as being the best two.”
EHC handicap winner of the Peroni Wolf Blass Cruising AMS division 2 was Paul and Angela Woodman’s Bavaria 44 Summer Wind from Royal Brighton Yacht Club.
“Tuesday’s winds suited us but we also did quite well in the light,” Angela said. “What’s nice about Geelong is the flatwater, if we were at our end of the bay (Brighton) there would be a fair bit of chop.”
“We had 23-24 knots… lovely sailing conditions,” Paul said of the series’ concluding day. “The boats were alive, testing for the crews but exciting. We’ve really enjoyed the onshore entertainment this year; our crews have been up until all hours. We are pleased the numbers have been strong with the change of dates, the culture of competitive racing and tradition lives on,” he added.
Peter Russell’s Sydney 36r Wild Goats won the AMS handicap top trophy.
Club Marine cruising divisions 1,2,3, non-spinnaker, multihulls & classics
The largest contributor to the final fleet size, the good natured banter on the dock and the spectacle of the annual Festival of Sails hosted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club are the cruising boats.
Grant Anderson’s Beneteau First 45 First Passion received the winner’s trophy in Club Marine Cruising spinnaker division 2. “Another fantastic regatta, it’s something we enjoy every year and to take out the division 2 this year is a great feeling. We had a great time and always enjoy the Festival of Sails,” the Sandringham Yacht Club skipper added.
Mark Hanlon’s Noelex 30 Maitresse performed the best in Cruising Spinnaker division 3 and Rick Blanck’s Beneteau Oceanis 34 Suri was declared winner of the Marina YE Cruising Non-Spinnaker after five races, four passage and one twilight race on Sunday afternoon.
John Williams, better known among the keelboat fraternity, beat the rest of the Schweppes Multihull division that came into its own in Tuesday’s blow. Williams’ Tyee III, a Catana 431, was too strong for Dave Ruffin’s Cavala and Peter Strain’s It’s a Privilege.
Out-sailing the rest of the classy classic boat fleet was the Herlin classic sloop Lupa Wylo, skippered by Geoff Sadler.
Final words from the Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson
“It’s been pretty interesting weather-wise and the event delivered on the last day with breeze, which will be the lasting memory for the sailors.
“We had a good traditional Passage Race that began in breeze and glassed out in the middle before the sea breeze came in, which turns the results upside down and is typical for passage racing, whether it’s the Sydney to Hobart of the Melbourne to Geelong.
“The light middle section of the series was good for the low handicap raters and then we had a perfect sailing breeze to finish.”
Festival of Sails Chairman and Royal Geelong Yacht Club Vice Commodore Peter Alexander commended the race committee on another successful regatta. “Our north facing bay here in Geelong has some of the best sailing conditions in Australia, and our team of volunteers along with PRO Denis Thompson have once again delivered in 2017. We look forward to celebrating our 175th anniversary in 2018 and seeing these boats return for a repeat win or redemption.”