Sebastian Bohm’s NSW based TP52 Smuggler is among the latest entries received by Royal Geelong Yacht Club (RGYC) for the 2023 Festival of Sails, Australia’s oldest and largest keelboat regatta, to be held from 26 to 29 January 2023.
Campaigning his TP52, Smuggler, consistently over the last three and a half years the boat and crew are in top shape. They finished sixth overall and second in division in the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race and third overall in the Brisbane to Gladstone race at Easter. Bohm and crew are ready to have a good crack at the Festival of Sails.
“We are ready and pumped to come down to Geelong for the Festival of Sails,” states Bohm.
The NSW yachtsman is the first of the TP52s entered in the Windward/Leeward Rating Series, where he is looking forward to racing alongside other TP52s and the likes of the Cookson 50, Extasea, among others.
“I’ve competed at Geelong twice before. Once I crewed on Shining Sea from South Australia and we won. The second time I did the Sydney 38 Nationals on my boat, Slipknot. This will be the first time with my TP52. We’ll do the Hobart and then head to Geelong.”
Smuggler will have local help: ‘We’ve got a few Geelong people on board for this. They’re regulars on Smuggler and they’re good sailors. The sailing is really good in Geelong too,” Bohm explains.
“With the Sydney 38, I didn’t get to do the Passage Race, so I’m really looking forward to that,” says the Sydney yachtsman who is pleased the 180th anniversary Passage Race marks his first.
We’ve had a great time there in the past. The atmosphere, activities and the whole social side is very good,” Bohm ends.
Extasea, which Bohm will sail against, is owned by Paul Buchholz, who doubles as the Festival of Sails’ Chairman. He has his work cut out on land and on the water.
Buchholz says: “I plan to race in the Windward/Leeward Rating Series, but I may not be able to sail every day because of my other duties. We’ll see… We are hopefully looking forward to a big Rating Series, including some TP52s from Sydney and South Australia, with a lot of interstate entries in other divisions too.
“The Festival of Sails is going to be bigger and better than ever with a vast program of racing.”
And aware of how quickly accommodation books out during January, he warns perspective entrants, “Book your accommodation now. It’s a busy time in Geelong and we don’t want to see anyone miss out.”
Of the other divisions, the Passage Rating Series is a popular one. It is gaining momentum with a dozen entries featuring a vast array of designs and sizes. Among them is Sal Balharrie with No Man’s Land. She will sail her Sydney 38 with a split of nine female and male crew.
“This is the sixth or seventh time I’ve done the regatta and the third time with No Man’s Land. We just love it. It’s in summer when Geelong comes alive. I’ve grown up sailing around that area all my life. There’s a lot of excitement. It’s Victoria’s Hamilton Island Race Week,” Balharrie enthuses.
“While there are a lot of races, we don’t get many opportunities to do day-on-day regattas in Melbourne. And the Passage Race is a really interesting race. It has challenges – and it’s the 180th – so special. The shipping channel brings challenges, but Corio Bay is a lovely, protected piece of water to sail on.
“It’s particularly special for a young crew, like mine, who hasn’t had the experience. To come ashore with sore muscles, is actually a good feeling,” ends Balharrie, who will face competition from the likes of the Archambault 35 Archie, the Hick 39, BKT Jamhu (Just a minor hickup) and the Northshore 33, Deja Blue.
The Victorian yachtswoman shares a distinctive memory of the Festival of Sails: Last year we were matching it against another Sydney 38. We held them off and held them off. It was exciting. The finish was in front of the marina. I looked up and there on the breakwater was Bruce Taylor (one of Australia’s pre-eminent yachtsmen with runs on the board with his Sydney 38, Chutzpah). He doffed his cap to me with a smile. That was so special.”
Over 70 entries have so far been received for the Festival of Sails from NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and of course, Victoria. Some of those will arrive in Geelong having recently been crowned champions from other recent major regattas and races, while others will leave the Festival of Sails with a new trophy to add to the cabinet.
A variety of divisions include Passage – Spinnaker Series; Passage – Non-Spinnaker Series; Guyon Wilson Trophy Series, Passage Mini Series and others.