The Royal Geelong Yacht Club (RGYC) has appointed a new Chairman to the helm of the 2019 Festival of Sails. Stuart Dickson, who has been chairman of the Wooden Boat Festival since its inauguration in 2005, takes over the role from Peter Alexander.
Mr Alexander was the Chairman of the Festival of Sails for the past two years. This included the event’s 175th anniversary in January this year.
Mr Alexander will remain involved in the Festival of Sails, the largest keelboat regatta in the Southern Hemisphere, as a member of the executive committee. Mr Dickson is the Vice Commodore of the Royal Geelong Yacht Club and has been a member of the club for more than 30 years.
He said he was delighted with the announcement and excited by the challenge of building on the success of the past few years.
“The Festival of Sails is a fantastic event for Geelong and Victoria and I am excited to be taking on the challenge. I’ve been chairman of the Wooden Boat Festival for 12 years now so I hope I can add some of that experience to the new role.”
Mr Dickson, who has been sailing for more than 35 years, said he was looking forward to adding a fresh perspective and continuing to invigorate the event.
A focus will be on improving the already popular onshore activities along the waterfront and increasing the profile of the event among sailors overseas and interstate.
“I think there are huge growth opportunities in Asia and New Zealand,” Mr Dickson said.
“We can’t just keep producing the same event year on year we need to be innovative and introduce some new ideas to make it even more vibrant and appealing to the broader community.”
Victoria’s oldest sporting event injects millions of dollars into the Geelong economy each year. In January 2018, thousands of people flocked to the Geelong waterfront to celebrate the historic Festival of Sails.
This year’s event returned to a three-day format over the Australia Day long weekend, with entries well up on previous years.
The 2018 event attracted 300 boats of all sizes to Geelong with entries representing all Australian states and participants from New Zealand and Norway.
While there was plenty of action on the water, huge crowds of locals and visitors alike enjoyed the free waterfront festivities including roving performers, markets and ‘come and try’ activities such as discover sailing, stand-up paddle boarding and the Range Rover Terrapod Experience.
In 2019 the Festival of Sails will once again be held over the Australia Day long weekend, Saturday January 26 to Monday January 28, 2019.