Bruce Taylor is what one would describe as one of the backbones of the Festival of Sails, having competed in every single one since 1979 – and he will be there again when the start gun fires on Port Phillip to send the fleet on its way in the 180th edition of the Passage Race, starting at 9.30am on Australia Day, 26 January 2023.
Taylor and his Caprice 40, Chutzpah, are among the current 100 plus Victorian entries that support the Royal Geelong Yacht Club’s (RGYC) annual event, to be held from 26-29 January. The Victorians are the body and soul of the Festival of Sails.
Chutzpah and her crew will arrive ready to race in the Passage Rating Series after Taylor sails his 41st Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which says a lot about his commitment to the sport of sailing.
Seven different Chutzpah’s have seen Taylor through 43 Festival of Sails and before that, he raced with the likes of the legendary Victorian, Lou Abrahams, before buying his own boats.
And the genial Taylor professes he loves the Festival of Sails so much, “One day it will be the very last regatta I’ll do; I reckon…”
“I wouldn’t miss it for quids. Generally, if we break gear in the Hobart, I’ve just jumped on someone else’s boat.”
Among the myriad positives of the regatta, Taylor says: “Royal Geelong is one of my favourite yacht clubs. They are very welcoming there and the volunteers are fantastic.”
He says the Festival of Sails is, “Well run by friendly people. The marina people are fantastic and so is the format of racing, especially the round the cans stuff on Corio Bay. It’s usually good weather and it’s just a great vibe. It’s a terrific regatta. And we can commute back and forth to Melbourne, but we usually stay in Geelong. It’s so easy for us.
Taylor continues, “It’s also an opportunity to blood youngsters, inexperienced people and sailing novices. Corio Bay is huge and a concentrated area with nice flat water.”
He chooses the Passage Rating division, because of the competition and the around the cans racing.
“The Passage Races are epic. Last year we toughed it out with Scarlet Runner (fellow Victorian Robert Date’s new Carkeek 43). There’s always someone to have fun with… The delivery trip back is fun too. Last year we had an absolute ripper. We hit 20 knots under spinnaker coming home. We had a couple of kids on board and they loved it!”
Taylor has reaped the benefits that longevity and lots of sailing brings: “We’ve won our division a few times. We were in the winning Royal Yacht Club of Victoria team many times too when they had the Teams Trophy for The Advertiser Cup,” but admits with a laugh, “Round the cans doesn’t really suit our boat!” The current Chutzpah was built with offshore racing in mind.
Other perennial Victorian devotees who mirror Taylor’s thoughts on the Festival of Sails include Phil Bedlington with the Hick 39, BKT Jamhu and Darren Pickering’s Farr 40, Larriken2. In other divisions are Alan Woodward’s Beneteau First 45, Reverie, Festival of Sails Chair Paul Buchholz’s Cookson 50 Extasea and Don McDonnel’s Adams 10 cruiser, Red Dog, among many others.
McDonnel, who is entered in the Passage – Spinnaker Series says, “We’ve done it for many years and we’ve placed quite well. The crew like it and it’s as much for them as anyone else.
“We like the vibe in Geelong and the Club is welcoming. I’ve become a bit disabled in the last couple of years and they’ve accommodated me with a special slip. We like the racing too. We had a new sailor with us, Louise McDonald, at the last Festival and she just loved it; the racing and the party atmosphere.”
It’s not too late to enter the Festival of Sails, with multiple divisions on offer. For NoR and to enter, please visit: https://festivalofsails.com.au/
Di Pearson/Festival of Sails media