When regattas become community events

Published on January 20th, 2014

Celebrated annually on January 26, Australia Day is the official national day of Australia. Initially to mark the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by its commander Captain Arthur Phillip, the holiday now marks the occasion when the country gathers to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian.

It is estimated that over half of the nation’s population of 21 million will attend either an organized community event, or gather with family and friends on Australia Day. It is on this premise that the largest annual keelboat regatta in the Southern Hemisphere – Festival of Sails in Geelong, Victoria (Australia) – continues to thrive since its launch in 1844.

With over 300 entries competing, the regatta caters to the highest performance grand prix racers through to trailable cruisers, and is further enhanced by the inclusion of the 2014 Melges 24 World Championship. But the racing is just one of the many events during the Australia Day Long Weekend as over 100,000 people flock to the picturesque Geelong Waterfront to take part in the excitement.

With stage and roving entertainers; live music; art and craft market stalls; a family friendly kids’ zone; gourmet food and wine; on and off-water come & try activities; fireworks; a dedicated marine trade and boating lifestyle exhibition and much more, the Festival of Sails is much more than a sailing event. It is a community event.

To weave sailing events into the fabric of a community helps both the event and the growth of sailing. What are some of the other examples of this type of collaboration?

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