Wave of boats prepare to set sail for Corio Bay

January 20, 2022 BY

200 boats and close to 2,000 sailors will make their way to Geelong as part of the Festival of Sails. Photos: SALTY DINGO

IN just two days, the spectacular sight of more than 200 Grand Prix boats sailing into Geelong will kick off the 2022 Festival of Sails.

The Royal Geelong Yacht Club’s 2022 event will be held after a two-year COVID-19 impacted hiatus creating for a huge return to the race.

More than 200 boats will start off from Williamstown for Geelong on Saturday for the 32 nautical mile Passage Race, the official curtain raiser to the 2022 event, Australia’s oldest annual sporting event and the nation’s biggest celebration of sailing.

Now in its 179th year, the Festival of Sails is older than Wimbledon, the Ashes, the Melbourne Cup, and the modern Olympics.

The opening Passage Race fleet of Grand Prix boats will jostleoff two long lines for the largest single start of a yacht race in the Southern Hemisphere.

According to Festival of Sails Chair Roger Bennett, along with more than 200 boats, more than 2000 sailors will be descending on Geelong for the five-day program.

“There’s a real sense of excitement this year with the sailors really keen to get together for a reunion and get back on the water, despite the challenges we’ve all had in dealing with COVID-19,” Bennett said.

“We’re presenting two championship series, being the Melges 24 National Championship and the Double Handed Victoria Championship, along with at least a dozen other class series for boats of just about every shape and size.

“The past two years have been a significant challenge for major events like the Festival of Sails and in 2022, we’re delighted to be welcoming local and visiting crews back to our event.”

According to Bennett, while the festival’s sailing program will return to its pre-pandemic style, ongoing COVID restrictions will mean the traditional Waterfront Festival which normally attracts thousands of people to Geelong’s waterfront still will not be on the cards.

Organisers have instead developed a new initiative ‘Gigs by Festival of Sails’, a program bringing live music and local talent to businesses and venues across the Geelong CBD and supported by Geelong Connected Communities.

Maritimo will skippered by highly respected international competitor Ray Roberts, who has previously won the Geelong regatta numerous times in various yachts, all known as Team Hollywood.


“COVID-19 has forced us to innovate, and we think this revised program will really help drive the recovery of our live music, hospitality and events industry, giving a much-needed boost for Geelong businesses and artists,” Bennett added.

After Saturday’s Passage Race, the start of the 2022 Festival of Sails will be officially celebrated with a fireworks display starting at 9.30pm over Corio Bay, proudly sponsored by the City of Greater Geelong.