Hon. Justin Madden MLC, Minister for Sport and Recreation, State Government of Victoria tonight launched the 2005 Regatta saying, <I>"The Sail Melbourne International Regatta is recognised as one of the pre-eminent dinghy regattas in the world".</I>
Sail Melbourne is the sailing equivalent of the Australian Open for tennis players, the Melbourne Grand Prix for Formula One - it attracts the best of the best.
Sail Melbourne is held annually in December and January each year and since it's inception in 1994, has grown into one of only five ISAF Grade 1 events held annually around the world and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere. Sail Melbourne is known by sailors for the great sailing conditions prevalent on Port Phillip, the spirit and enjoyment with which the event is conducted and the professionalism of its race management teams - all of which are amongst the best in the world.
Sail Melbourne 2005 is sure to deliver some of the best sailing action in the world.
The premier event, the Olympic & Invited Classes ISAF Grade 1 Regatta will be held at Sandringham Yacht Club and will attract many of the Athens Olympic sailors for another show down right here in Melbourne.
Other high profile events to be held as part of Sail Melbourne 2005 include the spectacular Hobie 17 and Hobie 18 World Championships with fleets of high performance catamarans racing along the Port Melbourne beach to the delight and attention of spectators along on the shore. The Moth World Championships will be held at Black Rock Yacht Club and will include boats using revolutionary hydrofoils allowing them to 'fly' up to 3 feet above the surface of the water.
In a terrific display of sailing skill and water speed just metres from the Elwood Beach, the Formula Windsurfing Oceanic Continental Championships will be held at Elwood Sailing Club and will provide an outstanding precursor to the World Championships in December 2005.
To complete what is really a 'Celebration of sailing' around Port Phillip, Sail Melbourne will also host twelve other National Championships from 10 different Yacht Clubs as part of the 2005 event.
The Minister also announced the confirmation of the State Government of Victoria's ongoing financial support for the Sail Melbourne International Regatta over the next four years stating that, "Sail Melbourne includes a terrific range of events that provides opportunities for the greater Australian sailing fraternity, in particular young sailors. It also helps ensure our sailors become even faster, more professional and better experienced to take on the world."
Studies also estimate the Sail Melbourne regatta generates an economic impact of approximately $6 million for Victoria each year.
Sailing is a sport undeniably growing in popularity, recent examples being at the Athens Olympic Games where a windsurfer lit the flame, two female sailors put it out and an Aussie sailor led the team into the stadium carrying the flag!