Just 10 Days To Go for 175th Anniversary Festival of Sails

On Australia Day, Friday January 26, a fleet of up to 300 yachts big and small will take off in a mass start of the largest keel boat regatta in the southern hemisphere, the Festival of Sails.

The iconic Passage Race from Williamstown to Geelong is an unforgettable opportunity to see hundreds of boats racing on Port Phillip Bay, in the dramatic opening event launching a weekend of racing and celebrations for sailors and public alike, at one of Victoria’s premier major events.

This year’s 175th Festival will deliver three days of sailing and a fabulous line up of shoreside entertainment and activities, which is expected to attract a crowd of more than 110,000 people.

The 2018 Festival of Sails will also coincide for the first time with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, and the combination of these two stellar sporting events will see an unprecedented amount of sporting activity and entertainment on the Geelong waterfront.
Once again, the Festival of Sails has attracted some of Australia’s elite yachts and crews, with Ray Roberts returning with Team Hollywood and Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban, fresh from their triumph as winners of the 2017 Sydney to Hobart race competing for glory. Mixing with these grand prix racers on Corio Bay during the Festival will be a diverse range of other vessels from family cruising boats to multi-hulls and dinghies.

The Passage Race is the oldest ocean race in Australia and the Festival of Sails is the largest annual yachting regatta in the Southern Hemisphere.

The regatta which became known as the Festival of Sails in 1997 is older than Wimbledon, the Ashes, the Melbourne Cup and the modern Olympics. It is even older than the America’s Cup. In fact, the Regatta Race had been held 139 times before Australia 2 won the America’s Cup in 1983!

Festival of Sails Chairman, Peter Alexander says the Festival is an event that combines history with tradition, the very best of sailing and fabulous entertainment and activities to deliver a truly world class event for Geelong.

“Our 175th year is an amazing milestone that we’re both proud and excited to be celebrating,” he says.

“The racing is always spectacular and each year we’ve worked harder to make sure there’s also plenty of excitement for the public as well as sailors.

Headlining the 2018 Australia Day entertainment line-up are Aussie music legends Ross Wilson and Mental As Anything, before the Geelong waterfront explodes with the traditional Australia Day fireworks display.

“Our shoreside entertainment is free, although after 5pm you’ll need a wristband to enter the yacht club precinct and the Regatta Village, and as we have a limited amount of space we’re recommending that people get their wristbands early through Trybooking,” says Mr Alexander.

“The countdown is well and truly on and it’s only a few days to go now until the 175th Festival begins, celebrating both our heritage and our future.”

1844 – First running of the Passage Race from Melbourne to Geelong 1859 – Royal Geelong Yacht Club is officially founded
1897 – His Excellency the Governor of Victoria Thomas Brassey (and Club Patron) wins the Regatta 1901 – Fireworks to celebrate the inauguration of the Commonwealth
1909 – The Jubilee Regatta
1925 – Regatta is hosted by Royal Geelong Yacht Club for the first time
1986 – With 361 yachts, the regatta is now the largest keelboat regatta in the Southern Hemisphere 1997 – Event name officially changes from the Australia Day Regatta to the Festival of Sail
2001 – Tall ships and Classics add to the festivities
2003 – City of Greater Geelong and the Festival of Sail join together to include a Shoreside Festival 2010 – New sponsor Audi Australia sees the event takes on a new name, ‘Audi Victoria Week’ 2012 – The event embraces its history and once again becomes known as the ‘Festival of Sails’ 2015 – Rex Gorell Land Rover become the naming rights sponsor for the Festival of Sails
2015 – Geelong Connected Communities partner with the Festival to sponsor waterfront activities for the public 2018 – The 175th anniversary of the Melbourne – Geelong Passage Race

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