|Sail away in Geelong - Quick Facts|
Geelong is 75 kilometres south west of Melbourne.
Skandia Geelong Week
More than just a yachting event, Skandia Geelong Week is the Melbourne Cup of the sailing world when weekend sailors, world champions and Olympians sail together in the largest pro-am sailing regatta in the southern hemisphere.
Victoria's oldest sporting event, the regatta was first held in 1844, evolving over the years to become one of the biggest events in the Melbourne sporting calendar that is just as exciting for those on shore as it is for those under sail. An estimated 100,000 visitors will head for the waterfront over the 2007 Australia Day week to watch Australia's largest sailing regatta.
The event is open to everyone from amateur sailors to Olympic and World Champions. The five-day racing program encompasses people from all walks of life, of all ages and abilities and with a range of boats as diverse as the crews participating. Approximately 500 yachts are expected compete in the 2007 event that includes 120 races, including two National Championships. Officially 'twinned' with Skandia Cowes Week, the largest sailing regatta in the world, there will also be numerous other vessels, including tall ships, passenger ferries and a cruise liner adding to the atmosphere.
What makes this sailing regatta so special is that Geelong waterfront provides a natural amphitheatre where mum, dad and the kids can watch the boats tacking almost off the foreshore. And now that the two events, the Geelong Waterfront Festival and Festival of Sail, have been combined under the umbrella of Skandia Geelong Week, the list of onshore attractions is bigger than ever before.
The shore side program runs from Friday January 26 until Sunday January 28, over the Australia Day weekend. There's the K-Rock Starshow, a fireworks spectacular that lights up the waterfront; amazing aerial displays from RAAF Roulettes and Pip Borman from Edge Aerobatics; the Taste of Geelong in Steampacket Quay, where you can sample the region's finest cold climate wines and taste the best in fresh local produce; a Geelong Art Society art exhibition featuring talented local artists with a marine theme; a Superscreen TV in Fairnie Park broadcasting the action both on and off the water, and more than 60 live acts performing across two stages and roving along the Geelong Waterfront.
There's plenty on offer for kids including a jumping castle, camel rides, train rides and face painting, the Power Corp Rescue helicopter and much, much more in a carnival like setting.
Wannabe sailors can sign up with Skandia Set Sail - a sailing program with free lessons that culminates in the Skandia Set Sail (Onboard) Challenge.
Cunningham Pier and Steampacket Quay: Temporary home to a range of vessels that regularly visit the event including; international cruise liners, square riggers, super yachts, passenger ferries and charter boats and the Taste of Geelong food and wine marquee. The Quay will be also be home to the Marine Expo with exhibits to include yachts, powerboats, Jetskis, kayaks, Winnebagos and Blokarts.
Customs Park: Customs Park will be home to a vintage car display hosted by the Western District Historical Vehicles Club.
Steampacket Gardens: The 'Gardens' is the hub of entertainment during Skandia Geelong Week. The main stage hosts a diverse range of widely appealing, family orientated live performances throughout the event. The Geelong Art Society Art Show will be located in Steampacket Garden with more than 300 outstanding works of art with a marine theme from local and regional artists.
Fairnie Park: Fairnie Park will feature a massive Superscreen TV which will broadcast the action both on and off the water. The 'Park' is a place where sailors and visitors can mingle whilst enjoying watching the days activities unfold without having to move a muscle.
Williamstown Water Festival: to celebrate the Melbourne half of Skandia Geelong Week, host city Williamstown and the traders association join with Royal Yacht Club of Victoria to provide entertainment for competitors and the general public. Royal Yacht Club of Victoria is open to the general public during the Melbourne end of Skandia Geelong Week. Live bands entertain and everyone is welcome to roam around the marina and view some of Australia's best racing yachts.
Article by Lee Atkinson, December 2006. Image courtesy Tourism Victoria.