Australia's largest regatta
"Once again the multi-faceted event has attracted a huge range of Australia’s best sailors chasing their share of the silverware, as well as those who come to enjoy the action on and off the water," said Regatta Chairman and RGYC Vice Commodore Andrew Neilson.
"As usual we have made a few changes to freshen things up including adding a production division to the Docklands Invitational event, and adding another off-the-beach class, the Formula 18s, with twenty five 18ft skiffs from around the country making their way to Geelong to add plenty of razzle dazzle.
"With Audi coming on board as the new naming rights sponsor of the event, this is the start of a new era. We acknowledge their involvement as well as all our support sponsors," added Neilson.
During the 166th staging of the longstanding regatta, Victoria’s capital city Melbourne and largest regional city Geelong will host more than 4000 sailors and their families.
The weeklong event comprises the Docklands Invitational (five race series, 21-22 Jan), an invitation-only event, King of the Docklands (21-22 Jan), a knock-out event aboard the SB3s for all divisional winners from the past two year’s, and finally the Audi IRC Series starting with the colourful passage race from Melbourne to Geelong on Saturday 23 January.
Among all the other classes starting in the Passage Race are the big multihulls that normally beat the IRC yachts to Geelong. The ‘multis’ start their series in the lead-up to the Passage Race.
Once in Geelong, 19 classes will race in their own divisions with two state championships, the McConaghy-KA Sails International Moth Victorian Championship and the William Angliss SB3 Victorian Championship, plus a national title is up for grabs, the Club Marine Formula 18 Australian Championship. The event is also the first leg of the Audi IRC Australian Championship.
The largest cruising fleet ever, 212 when entries closed last night, has added plenty of weight and colour to the Audi Victoria Week starting list.
Amongst the Classics contesting is Granuaile, an Irish 18m James Edward Doyle design that was built in the early 1900s as a transatlantic racer. More recently she has worked as a charter boat on the Franklin River in Tasmania.
While the classics are about history and grandeur, the International Moths and the Formula 18s are about the latest in design and construction, and will be the fastest of the classes as they skim across Corio Bay starting Saturday week.
Ten Sydney 38s will race in their one design format with the first over the finish line taking the win, making for spectacularly tight racing amongst a very competitive fleet. The mostly Victorian entries will be looking for the home advantage over the Andrew Corletto’s South Australian Shining Sea and Ray Sweeney’s Queensland entry Mondo.
The Sports Boats division is the biggest on record, 23, and boasts a super strong Melges contingent of seven as well as seven Thompson designs for what should be a tight National Championship series.
The absence of the 60 footers such as Loki and Limit has paved the way for the 50 footers to add their touch of grand prix glamour to the line up, Audi Victoria Week sailing administrator, Rob Hampshire describing the fleet as "about as red hot as you can get anywhere in the country".
A huge team of yacht club staff, volunteers, and sailing administrators are gearing up to host the massive event, which last year attracted 457 entries. Hampshire estimates close to 250 people will be involved in race administration and logistics at Docklands and Geelong.
In addition to a great racing program, the shoreside program boasts a bumper mix of entertainment and activities.
Over 60 live acts with artists including Darryl Braithwaite, Wendy Matthews, Brian Mannix, Scott Carne and Sean Kelly will perform across three waterfront stages.
The annual Bay FM Fireworks Spectacular will light up the sky on Monday 25, choreographed to music and are always a highlight. There is also the free William Angliss ‘Go Sailing’ program, allowing people of all ages and abilities a chance to test the waters with the aid of a qualified instructor off Eastern Beach.