Next Saturday morning, 24 January, Premier Steve BRACKS will fire the starting cannon from the Tall Ship Young Endeavour, for the 09.30am start of the Williamstown to Geelong race, a feature of Skandia Geelong Week.
The 2003 Sydney to Hobart line honours winner Skandia is expected to lead the massive 300-boat fleet away from the start line. Accompanied by tall ships and a large spectator fleet, Port Phillip will be witness to an Australia Day long weekend sailing spectacular.
Australia's super maxi Skandia is expected to be the first yacht to reach Geelong. Conditions will determine the race duration. The mono hull record for the 34 nm course stands at 2hrs 32 mins 13 seconds and is held by Australia Skandia Wild Thing.
First held in 1844, Royal Geelong Yacht Club's Skandia Geelong Week is Victoria's oldest sporting event and is part of Geelong's maritime heritage and proud waterfront history that started when Geelong was a working port for the Tall Ships, 160 years ago.
The climax of Australia's summer sailing program, Skandia Geelong Week is widely acknowledged as Australia's largest sailing event - 55 yacht races over five days. This year's event is expected to attract in excess of 400 yachts and over 3,500 sailors.
Skandia Geelong Week is a combination of the former Festival of Sail and the Geelong Waterfront Festival and it is truly a total entertainment package... the Melbourne Cup of the sailing world! An estimated 70,000 visitors will head for the waterfront precincts over the 2004 Australia Day-long weekend.
The event has an extensive and diverse shore based program that includes 48 live performances on four waterfront stages, two aerobatic displays, two spectacular fireworks displays, street performers, buskers, art exhibition, sand sculptures, tall ships and more.
In many ways, the rapidly developing Geelong Week is the Cowes Week of the southern hemisphere. Skandia Cowes Week is the second largest participant sporting event in the UK. Australian sailors and yachting media have realised that with the Skandia sponsorship commitment, this event is set to become one of the world's leading sailing events.
Skandia Geelong Week is unique being held in two locations - Melbourne and Geelong. It starts in Melbourne on Thursday with two days of sailing based out of Williamstown's Royal Yacht Club of Victoria and then moves to Geelong for the Australia Day long weekend. The Williamstown Water Festival forms part of the five-day program.