Festival Of Sails

Reverie declared overall winner of 180th Passage Race

Alan Woodward’s Reverie has been declared the overall winner of the 180th Passage Race, the opener for Royal Geelong Yacht Club’s 2023 Festival of Sails.


The win means a lot to Woodward, as his and Reverie’s names will be added to the Lou Abrahams Memorial Trophy. Abrahams was a Victorian yachting legend admired by yachties from around the world, including Woodward.


“Louie was a wonderful man and a great yachtsman and I’m very happy to win the trophy and this race,” Woodward said.


The Brighton yachtsman is a fixture at the Festival of Sails: “I’ve done about 30 with various Reveries,” he said.


“I didn’t realise we had won,” he said with genuine surprise in his voice. “I think we’re very lucky to win today – and very lucky to win after 30 tries. I think it was our turn,” he said with a laugh.


“The crew has been with me 30 years, some the whole time, others come and go, so the win is good for them too.


My son started racing with me at five years old and he’s 43 now. Everyone’s been with me so long we all have grey hair!”


However, the Reverie crew has enjoyed division wins here in the past, just not the Passage Race.


Asked why he keeps coming back, Woodward explained, “The camaraderie is good, the Royal Geelong (Yacht Club) puts on a great event and we always have lots of fun.”


Racing in a huge fleet of 242 boats, Reverie, a Beneteau First 45 from Brighton, overcame challenges from some of the cream of sailing, including the TP52s Zen and Smuggler from NSW, Maritimo (Qld), which recently won the recent 50th Melbourne Hobart, 2022 Australian Championship winners such as Ikon, which is also a Beneteau First 45, among others.    


Woodward and his crew are hoping to keep the dream alive in Passage Rating Division 1 when racing begins on Corio Bay tomorrow and ends on Sunday 29 January when the winners will be decided in each of the race series. With 22 boats in Division 1, all here to win, Reverie will be up against some tough opposition.


Racing starts from 10.25am tomorrow and continues throughout the day in the various series and divisions.


A total of 271 boats from Tim Bardon’s 5.9 metre Cirrus up to Roy Nicholson’s 17.5 metre Nautor Swan 56, Apsara. Victoria, NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory and ACT are in Geelong to race on Corio Bay over the next three days.


Held since 1844, the Festival of Sails traditionally takes place from 26-29 January, with the 180th Passage Race kicking off racing.


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