Festival of Sails Passage Race celebrates 180 years

Geelong’s Festival of Sails will be celebrating a major milestone when it returns in January 2023, as it salutes the 180th anniversary of its Passage Race between Melbourne and Geelong.

The Passage Race normally attracts more than 200 entries as boats and yachts of all classes take to the waters of Port Phillip Bay for the opening challenge of the four-day regatta, which will run from Thursday, January 26 to Sunday, January 29, 2023.

According to incoming Festival of Sails Chairman, Paul Buchholz the proudly Geelong-based event is a firm favourite with sailors from all over Australia, and he expects the opportunity to be part of the 180th anniversary celebrations will be even more of a reason for many of them to head to Corio Bay.

“You can’t deny the importance of any event hitting such a momentous milestone and we are incredibly proud of how the Festival of Sails showcases not only the best of competitive sailing, but also the very best of Geelong and our region,” he said.

“After more than two years of waves of Covid-related restrictions and interruptions to businesses and events, we think the 180th anniversary is a pretty good reason to celebrate, and we’ll be inviting everyone to join us!”

Mr Buchholz also welcomed the ongoing financial support of the Victorian Government and the City of Greater Geelong saying, “An event like ours simply couldn’t exist without the consistent and generous support of the Victorian Government and the City of Greater Geelong.”

Member for Geelong, Christine Couzens MP said, “The Festival of Sails is a marquee event staged at Geelong’s iconic waterfront and will attract thousands of people to our town.”

“The Andrews Labor Government is proud to support major events like this because they support jobs and local businesses.”

City of Greater Geelong Mayor, Peter Murrihy said the Festival of Sails had played a significant role in Geelong’s event offering for many years and the 180th running of the Passage Race was extremely worthy of celebrating.

“As a local resident, there’s nothing quite like getting out and enjoying the January festivities along our Geelong waterfront. And having the Festival of Sails and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race both happening over the same weekend next January will bring an undeniable buzz to our fantastic city and region!”

The Festival of Sails is Australia’s oldest sporting event and the biggest keel boat regatta in the Southern Hemisphere and FoS Chairman Paul Buchholz said the organising committee was looking forward to adding some unique new offerings to the 2023 event.

“Included in the on-water racing program, we’ll be hosting the Melges 29 National Championship, along with the booming category of Double-Handed racing and some of the TP52 Super Yachts will also be heading to Geelong,” he said.

“On the waterfront, we really looking forward to welcoming our local and regional families with a mix of things they may have seen before – including the traditional fireworks and terrific entertainment – along with some exciting new additions. We are very much looking forward to delivering an event worthy of our 180th milestone.”


NAV at Home
JPK 11.80 July 2024
Jeanneau JY55
M.O.S.S Australia
Race Yachts