Grand Prix Series proposed for 2017 Festival of Sails

FoS 2015 Shogun V

The 2017 Festival of Sails is getting a remodel with the addition of a new Grand Prix Series to open the timetable and a mass Saturday finish of racing preceding a huge closing party for thousands of sailors and their supporters.

Expressions of interest for an invitation-only Grand Prix Series, from Tuesday January 24 to Saturday January 28, are being sought by Festival of Sails organisers, Royal Geelong Yacht Club.

The Grand Prix fleet would kick off the 174th edition of the Australia’s largest and oldest yachting regatta. After two days of high calibre competition on Geelong’s Corio Bay, the flotilla would join up with the larger Festival fleet for a leg of the historic passage race back to Geelong on Australia Day, Thursday January 26, and series continuation.

In 2018 the Australian Yachting Championship will play out on Port Phillip, and RGYC feel hosting a Grand Prix Series in the build-up is the perfect way to showcase the Victorian waters and give recognition to owners who invest in order to compete at the upper level of the seaboard circuit. A proposed hospitality component is likely to include concierge pick-up and black-tie function where Grand Prix Series owners can mingle.

Festival of Sails spokesperson and RGYC Vice Commodore Peter Alexander said, “We hope this invitation-only event will bring together the cream of Australian IRC yachts on some of the best racing waters. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the bay and for interstate skippers to test the conditions prior to the national championship at Sandringham in 2018.”

Geelong sailor Rob Hanna, past owner of the successful TP52 Shogun V now being campaigned by Sydney skipper Matt Allen and called Ichi Ban, is fulfilling an ambassadorial role with his home club and making contact with fellow skippers to gauge their interest.

“I think it’s great that the Festival of Sails organisers have considered the concept and I hope it is a huge success,” Hanna said from overseas. “Geelong is a great place to sail and the facilities are very good. I wish them every success; the concept deserves our full support.”

Invitations are being distributed by the club and expressions of interest for the Grand Prix Series sought. For more information contact the club’s sailing manager Mike Williams on 0437 689 928 or email mikew@rgyc.com.au

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