A fleet of more than 270 boats will compete in the 2019 Festival of Sails, Australia’s biggest celebration of sailing, which kicks off with the Passage Race from Melbourne to Geelong on Australia Day.
Entries for Australia’s oldest sporting event closed at midnight, Wednesday, January, 16. Event organisers, the Royal Geelong Yacht Club said they were delighted with the result, which is on par with entries for last year’s event which marked the 175th anniversary of the Melbourne to Geelong Passage Race.
Festival of Sails Chairman Stuart Dickson said 276 keelboat entries were confirmed starters for the Festival of Sails which runs from Saturday, January 26 to Monday, January 28, 2019.
About 20 boats are expected to participate in Off the Beach (OTB), the RGYC’s dinghy sailing section. Entries for this category close at midnight on Friday, January 18, 2019.
“It’s fantastic to see so many keelboat entries with participants coming from every State and Territory of Australia, except Northern Territory and international competitors heading to Geelong in coming days from Malaysia and the United States.”
“We expect about 3000 participants will take part in the event and we are already seeing interstate boats arriving at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club in preparation for the Festival of Sails,” he said.
“We are looking forward to welcoming more competitors over coming days, ahead of what is looking like three spectacular days of sailing on the beautiful flat waters of Corio Bay,” he said.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to the Geelong waterfront over the Australia Day long weekend.
Complementing the sailing is the Waterfront Festival, presented by Geelong Connected Communities, which will provide visitors with a smorgasbord of activities, live music and the Regional Artisan Fair, showcasing local produce.
The Royal Australian Airforce’s elite formation aerobatic display team, the Roulettes, will also make a stunning return to Geelong. They will perform a breathtaking 15 minute aerial display in their PC-9/A aircraft, over the Royal Geelong Yacht Club and Eastern Beach Reserve, from 1pm on January 26.
The Royal Australian Navy Band, one of Australia’s most recognised and valued military bands, will also entertain crowds on Australia Day, with two sets starting at 12:30pm, from the Eastern Beach Reserve stage.
A fireworks display, proudly sponsored by AirAsia, will be held at 9.15pm on Australia Day. The best vantage points will be from Eastern Beach Reserve and Ritchie Boulevard.
Meanwhile, Mr Dickson said the RGYC was delighted to announce Optus Business Centre Geelong had come on board as a sponsor of the 2019 Festival of Sails.
Optus Business Centre will provide a power station at the Festival of Sails so competitors will be able to recharge their phones/iPads and tablets after a big day sailing on Corio Bay and update their friends and families on their progress.
We are very excited to have the support of the Optus Business Centre Geelong for this year’s Festival of Sails and ongoing support for the Royal Geelong Yacht Club,” Mr Dickson said.
For details about the 2019 Festival of Sails, visit festivalofsails.com.au.
by Jessica Gabites