Australia’s biggest celebration of sailing, the Festival of Sails, will introduce a new Tall Ships series to the 2017 event, with three spectacular tall ships to join in the Melbourne-Geelong Passage Race which marks the official start of the festival.
The news follows the announcement of British vessel STS Tenacious – the largest operative wooden ship in the world – as the official starting boat for the Passage Race. Tenacious will be joined by Enterprize and SV Alexander Stewart for the race which will see a flotilla of more than 200 boats of all shapes and sizes, representing all divisions competing at the festival.
As well as participating in the Passage Race, the ships will remain in Geelong for part of the Festival, offering the public on-board tours and sailing journeys, with a fourth tall ship – the Young Endeavour – also anchoring in Geelong from 24-29 January. The Enterprize and SV Alexander Stewart will sail together, offering participants a unique opportunity to be on board a tall ship while also seeing another alongside in full sail. Festival of Sails Chairman Peter Alexander said inclusion of the tall ships into the Festival was a true coup, adding even more spectacle to the event and offering visitors a rare glimpse into the world of multi-mast vessels.
“Festival of Sails is already established as an elite sailing event with a long, esteemed history, and the tall ships joining us for 2017 bring together the best of both worlds, modern day technology and racing as well as old-world charm. It symbolises the event’s heritage as well as sailing racing in the 21st century – the perfect lead up to the Festival’s 175th anniversary in 2018,” said Mr Alexander. Run almost entirely by volunteers, Melbourne tall ship Enterprize is a replica of the schooner that was purchased by John Pascoe Fawkner in 1835, and sailed from Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) to the Port Phillip District with the first permanent white settlers to found what became the city of Melbourne.
Today’s Enterprize is the only traditionally rigged ship operating in Australia and New Zealand waters. Built with recycled timbers, the vessel weighs 72 tonnes, is more than 16 metres long and almost 18 metres high in full mast, offering a unique 1830s sailing experience. The SV Alexander Stewart is a family-owned traditional sailing boat, hand-built over 20 years by a family of builders who began the process in the late 1960s. The beautiful Melbourne-based wooden yacht is a cold moulded construction with exceptional attention to detail, 24 metres long and 22 metres high. Its lines were taken from Joshua Slocums ‘Spray’ who visited Melbourne in 1896 on the world’s first solo circumnavigation. STS Young Endeavour is the gift given to the people of Australia by the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland on the occasion of the Bicentenary in 1988.The Royal Australian Navy operates and maintains the ship, which, through the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme, provides challenging sail training voyages for young Australians aged 16-23 years. The brigantine weighs 239 tonnes, is 44 metres long, and her main mast is 32 metres high.
Young Endeavour will be open to the public to visit in Geelong on Saturday 28 January 2017. “The Passage Race already attracts huge crowds but with the three tall ships we now expect it to be even more popular and visually spectacular. It’s a truly unforgettable experience to watch hundreds of boats of all sizes charge into Corio Bay,” said Mr Alexander. The Festival of Sails is one of the 11 major events of Victoria and Geelong’s largest annual event, bringing the country’s largest sailing community together with more than 110,000 spectators at an on and off water festival that showcases Geelong at its best.
In 2017 the celebrations will extend through the entire week, including Australia Day. The event sees a feast of first class racing as Australia’s finest sailors battle for trophy honours on Corio Bay and thousands of people flock to the Geelong foreshore for the Shoreside Festival’s live entertainment, market stalls, family activities and carnival atmosphere.
The 2017 Festival of Sails, presented by Rex Gorell Land Rover, will be held from Saturday, January 21 to Friday, January 27. The RGYC will once again host the traditional Australia Day festivities and fireworks display on Thursday, January 26, from 9.15pm onwards. For Enterprize and SV Alexander Stewart sail bookings or more information.
Applications to sail Young Endeavour are open at youngendeavour.gov.au – apply now to set sail for the voyage of a lifetime!
For more information, please visit festivalofsails.com.au
by Silvia Knoppien