Skandia, the international long-term savings company, announced a four year title sponsorship of Australia''s largest sailing event, Skandia Geelong Week (SGW).
Formerly known as the Festival of Sail, the regatta is Victoria's oldest sporting event. Held annually to coincide with the Australia Day weekend, Skandia Geelong Week 2004 is 22 - 26 January.
Widely regarded as the Cowes Week of the Southern Hemisphere, the event attracts around 400 yachts and 4,000 competitors who race in the waters of Corio Bay around Melbourne and Geelong.
It is possibly the largest event orientated sponsorship in Australia yachting history and marks another step towards Victoria becoming the sailing capital of Australia. Commenting on the announcement Steve Bracks, Premier of Victoria said "Skandia Geelong Week is set to become one of the world''s premier sailing events. This is an excellent opportunity to promote the wide expanses of Port Phillip, the protected waters of Corio Bay and a wonderfully rejuvenated Geelong to a global audience."
Skandia, event organisers, the Royal Geelong Yacht Club (RGYC) and the City of Greater Geelong, share a vision of developing SGW to become an event of equal status and size to Skandia Cowes Week (SCW). Geelong has recently undergone AUS$170 million waterfront redevelopment and provides the perfect backdrop for a world class sailing event.
Skandia's Global Marketing Director, André Oszmann, says "Skandia Geelong Week represents a major addition to the Skandia Set Sail sponsorship programme we launched in March. The aim of our Set Sail programme is to make sailing more accessible and grow the sport's reach. We feel that Skandia Geelong Week is the perfect event to help us achieve this. With Skandia Geelong Week and Skandia Cowes Week we have a unique opportunity to develop Victoria's oldest sporting event alongside the world's largest and most famous regatta."
Along with the sponsorship, Skandia has instigated a 'twinning' of these two great sailing events that will see among many initiatives, the sharing of best race management practice, joint marketing campaigns, and the opportunity for competitors and spectators to compete for visits to each others events. An early outcome of the 'twinning' will see the RGYC benefit from the race management skills of Stuart Quarrie, Race Director at SCW during the 2004 event.
With Skandia as new title sponsors the event faces a bright and prosperous future.
"Skandia has been the title sponsor of Cowes Week for nine years. We have an exceedingly knowledgeable and experienced team who are looking forward to bringing their energy and expertise to Skandia Geelong Week. Matched with the obvious popularity of the event and the passion and vision of the RGYC, together we can create a truly spectacular event"
It is a view that is widely shared by the RGYC, and the local Geelong community as John Bertrand AM - Patron of Skandia Geelong Week confirms "The historic Geelong regatta pre dates the Americas Cup by several years, yet it remains a sleeping giant in global terms. Now, thanks to the assistance of Skandia, the sailing world is about to discover a fabulous regatta that is already widely regarded as Australia's largest sailing event. Port Phillip and Corio Bay are amongst the best competitive sailing waters in the world and this is an excellent opportunity to promote our waterways."