Geelong pips Cowes for party honours


Skandia Geelong Race Week is Australia’s oldest and largest keelboat regatta and is renowned for both its on and off water action. With a record 448 yachts entered in the event this year, there was no shortage of dockside fun, reports Lulu Roseman.

Audi joined the event this year as the official car partner, sponsoring the Audi Series, previously called the Scotchman Hill Series. The Victorian State Government announced a three-year funding agreement in July last year with Victorian Premier Steve Bracks firing the starting gun.

The Dockland Invitational saw 20 of the nation’s most well-known yachts invited to do battle at Waterfront City.

Richard Parkes brought his Elliot Escape 780 Dry-Deck,over from Adelaide to compete against one of the most competitive fleets in Australia.

‘It’s hard physical work throwing these sports boats around in these conditions and the partying is just as bruising. Fortunately, we managed to get them all back home to begin their recovery for next year.’

David ‘Hightower’ Sampson who does the sewer on Wild Oats says you can only really compare Skandia Geelong Race Week with Cowes Week.

‘The entertainment is fabulous and the way the community gets involved in the event is cool. Even though we spent the bulk of the time racing in Melbourne, the festivities around the Royal Geelong Yacht Club takes the spirit and excitement of this regatta to a whole new level.’

The live music was impressive with Diesel, James Blundell and Joe Camille and The Black Sorrows whipping the crowds into a frenzy. A spectacular fireworks display, the RAAF Roulettes and
Farr 40 yachtsman Matthew Chew says Geelong is always an awesome regatta: ‘The sailing is full on, the party circuit rocks and the locals make a real effort to make us all feel welcome. The girls are also pretty hot.’

For round-the-world tactician Adrienne Cahalan, the event was a very different experience from the previous year when she raced on a rather low-key Elliott 7, reminiscent of her early sailing days. After the recent success of winning back-to-back Sydney-Hobart's and Pittwater-Coffs Harbour races aboard Wild Oats, she says there was a lot of pressure on the crew to do well.

‘The team really enjoyed the racing, particularly the trapezoid course from Williamstown. That was quite challenging instead of the usual straight-forward windward-leeward course. The racing on the Saturday was neck and neck with Skandia,’ Cahalan says.

‘I really enjoyed all the corporate hospitality and we were pretty busy in Melbourne at Pier 35 in Docklands. There are really few regattas that integrate the town that they are held in, and Geelong really gets behind this event. It was a pretty intense week for us and it was great having Bob and Val Oatley on board.’

Docked next to Wild Oats, the Skandia crew kicked back with a few cold bevvies and had a surprise visit from a local copper who was granted permission to step aboard with his non-white-soled shoes and a few fortunate kids came aboard to chat with Skandia's crew. Crewman Matt Pearce welcomed the distractions and said the whole party scene added a fun, laid-back element to such a competitive event.

‘It allows the crews to hang out and mingle after racing before attending team dinners.

‘We race pretty hard, always pushing the boat and the equipment and Wild Oats gave us a real run for our money this year.”

Audi and Skandia both hosted soirees at their chalet marquees on the hill overlooking the yacht club and Corio Bay. The who’s who of the yachting fraternity was out in full force enjoying the sponsors’ hospitality.

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