Elite sailors from across the globe have started arriving in Geelong for crucial training sessions ahead of four sailing world championship competitions, which are expected to inject more than $6.8 million into the local economy.
In a major coup for Geelong, Royal Geelong Yacht Club (RGYC) will be the epicentre of world sailing this summer as it welcomes more than 400 sailors from 35 countries, with many vying for selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
They’re competing in the 49er, 49erFX and the Nacra 17 World Championships, being held from February 6 to 15, 2020, followed by the Laser Masters Worlds in March.
The unparalleled program of events – being held simultaneously for the first time in Geelong and supported by Major Events funding by the City of Greater Geelong – will showcase Geelong to an international audience and has attracted some of the world’s best sailors to Corio Bay, many for the first time.
The three classes are Olympic categories of sailing and the World Championships in Geelong will be the final selection rounds for many of the countries set to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, starting in July. The classes also act as a ‘feeder’ for the America’s Cup and Sail GP events, regarded as the highest level of performance sailing.
The championship vessels set to compete at Geelong are the highest performance one design boats in the world. The 49ers are single hull skiffs with two crew members. The 49er FX is the female class and the Nacra 17s are two-person mixed crew catamarans with two hulls and foils which spectacularly lift them out of the water.
Sailors have begun streaming into Geelong this week to start training ahead of the regattas.
Dozens of boats have arrived into Avalon Airport, many following on from New Zealand, which hosted the 49er and 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships last month.
From next week, around 170 boats will be housed at RGYC and the western end of Eastern Beach for training and racing.
RGYC Commodore John Kint said while he appreciated Eastern Beach would be busy during the championships, these events would deliver a huge bonus for the city and a spectacular sight on our waters of Corio Bay.
“Showcasing our beautiful city to hundreds of new visitors who will drive almost $7 million into our economy is a huge benefit for Geelong,” he said.
“The public will also have the unique opportunity to come down to the RGYC and Eastern Beach and see some of the best sailors in the world in action, right here on our bay.”
Ahead of the World Championships, RGYC will also host the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 Oceania Championships, incorporating Sail Melbourne and the Australian Nationals from January 30 to February 3, 2020.
The best sailors from countries including New Zealand, Holland, Brazil, Spain, United States, Great Britain, Denmark, France and Germany, as well as Australia will compete in the world championships.
This will include New Zealanders Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who won the world championships in Auckland last month and were part of the Emirates Team New Zealand which won the 2017 America’s Cup.
Other participants will include 2016 Rio Olympic gold medallists (49er FX) Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze, from Brazil. Meanwhile, Sydney cousins Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin are set to battle it out with Lake Macquarie siblings Nathan and Haylee Outteridge for Olympic selection in the Nacra 17s.
Closer to home, RGYC sailor Ollie Manton, 20, and Melbourne’s Jack Lloyd, 25, will be out to gain valuable experience in the 49er championships.
Geelong’s massive ‘Summer of Sailing’ will also include the historic MacGlide Festival of Sails from January 25 to 27, the Wooden Boat Festival from March 6 to 9 and the Laser Masters World Championships, from March 19 to 28.
For more information about the world championships, please visit www.49er.org or download the app ‘49er Geelong’ on the App Store.