Geelong’s Festival of Sails returns

After a two-year Covid-related hiatus, Victoria’s historic Festival of Sails will be roaring back into life from Saturday, January 22 to Wednesday, January 26, 2022.

Australia’s oldest sporting event and the biggest keel boat regatta in the southern hemisphere, the event was first held in 1844 and the 2022 event will mark the 179th running of the iconic Melbourne to Geelong Passage Race which is expected to attract up to 250 entries.

According to Festival of Sails Chair Roger Bennett, the 2022 event is shaping up to be a very welcome reunion for more than 2,000 competitors and sailing enthusiasts from all over Australia.

“The past couple of years have been extremely difficult for major events and we have been understandably frustrated by not being able to deliver Geelong’s much-loved event,” he said.

“While the 2022 event will look a little different, we’re delighted to be back out sailing and racing and importantly, welcoming the public back into Geelong to celebrate the long weekend.”

Yacht sailing upwind.
The event is expected to attract up to 250 entries. Pic – Salty Dingo

With the ongoing impacts of restrictions related to COVID-19, this year the organisers have made the difficult decision to revise the traditional Waterfront Festival and replace it in 2022 with a sponsored live music and entertainment program in venues across Geelong’s CBD.

“This year will be all about the reunion and getting people back together and as part of that, we’re delighted to be sponsoring some of our key live music venues in Geelong and encouraging people to come into Geelong over the festival period and celebrate by supporting local artists and local venues,” said Mr Bennett.

“Of course, we’re looking forward to getting back to our traditional Waterfront Festival, hopefully for the following year in January 2023!”

Competition will be fast and furious on the water with the 2022 event featuring the high-performance sport boats Melges 24 National Championships, the Double Handed Victorian Championships, the Victorian Sailing League, the Sailing Champions League and the Deakin Cadet Championships.

“There will be plenty of sailing action and we’re delighted to also be hosting the new Sailing Champions League which is a four-member team challenge with everyone sailing the same supplied boats in a new style of racing which is currently taking Europe by storm,” said Mr Bennett.

“Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, we are still expecting a strong fleet to attend FoS in 2022, with entries already exceeding 100 vessels from across Victoria and New South Wales and we’re hopeful that as state borders continue to open up, that we will see further entries from around Australia.”

Mr Bennett said the organisers are also keen to encourage visiting sailors to stay and support local tourism businesses.

“We’re keen to encourage our visitors to ‘stay a little longer’ in our beautiful region by offering some free moorings after the event, so they can explore our food, wine and tourism offerings.”

“We’re still finalising our full program and hoping to be able to offer something to make the Festival of Sails a fabulous celebration we all look forward to, particularly after such a tough couple of years for Victoria,” he said.

The 2022 Festival of Sails is proudly supported by Visit Victoria, the City of Greater Geelong and Geelong Connected Communities.

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