Former Olympian and America’s Cup hero Sir James Hardy, will return to the Festival of Sails in 2019, as ambassador of the three-day regatta.
The world champion yachtsman, businessman, winemaker and community leader was a special guest at the 2015 Festival of Sails.
Sir James will be a guest speaker of the Royal Geelong Yacht Club at the Skipper’s Breakfast on Sunday, January 27, 2019, during the Festival of Sails which runs from January 26 to 28, 2019.
The Festival of Sails is Australia’s biggest celebration of sailing and the largest keelboat sailing regatta in the Southern Hemisphere. The regatta attracts hundreds of yachts and thousands of participants from around the world to Geelong’s Corio Bay.
“It will be an honour to welcome Sir James back to the Royal Geelong Yacht Club as the ambassador of the 2019 Festival of Sails,” Festival of Sails Chairman Stuart Dickson said.
Sir James represented Australia at two Olympics (1964 and 1968) and was an America’s Cup skipper three times (1970, 1974 and 1980). He also competed in four Admiral’s Cup Ocean Racing Championships.
In 1983, when Australia 2 won the America’s Cup, finally breaking the New York Yacht Club’s 132 year hold on the Cup, Sir James was the back-up skipper and mentor to skipper John Bertrand. Bertrand had been in Sir James’s crew in each of his three earlier America’s Cup challenges.
“Sir James is an icon of Australian sailing,” Mr Dickson said. “It will be an absolute privilege to welcome him to the Skipper’s Breakfast during the Festival of Sails. I am sure his stories and anecdotes from a remarkable sailing career will be inspiring for all of the guests before Day Two of sailing begins,” he said.
Sir James was made an officer of the order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1975 and a Knight Bachelor in 1981 for his service to yachting and the community. In 1981 he was named the Australian yachtsman of the year and in 1994 was inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame.
Hardys Wines will be the official wine sponsor for the 2019 Festival of Sails.
The global wine company was started in 1853 by Sir James’ great-grandfather Thomas Hardy.
“The Festival of Sails is a wonderful event and I am looking forward to being a part of the 2019 celebrations in Geelong. I love Corio Bay,” Sir James said.