The Sailing Champions League – which is a ‘club versus club’ sailing competition that has taken off across the globe – made its Geelong debut on the closing day of the Festival of Sails.
Launched in 2013 and now being run in 24 countries around the world, teams of four sailors race in supplied one-design boats, in short races over a standardised course. The concept of the league was introduced into Australia in 2019 by Olympic sailing gold medallist, Mark Turnbull.
“We’ve been really pleased with the reaction by Aussie clubs since we introduced the concept and sailors seem to love the fact that they don’t need any gear and can just jump in the RS21s we provide and away they go,” he said.
“Victoria and South Australia are the first two states to host active state leagues, but we’re confident the competition will continue to expand with clubs from all over Australia getting involved, and we’ll soon see our best sailors competing against the best clubs in Asia Pacific. It’s pretty exciting!”
On Australia Day, eight teams took to the waters of Corio Bay, with each team made up of two men and two women, carrying 64.6 sqm of sails.
The racing was fast and furious in 10-to-15-minute bursts, with no fewer than 48 races over just two days in predominantly light, but varied conditions.
Ultimately the winning team was Mornington Yacht Club‘s youth team of skipper James Jackson, along with Jack Eickmeyer, Lily Richardson and Matilda Richardson, who led after the qualifying races and sailed consistently well.
Following the exponential growth of the popular league format overseas, it has expanded to now include young sailors competing in a specific Youth SAILING Champions League and also a Women’s SAILING Champions League.
“We’re hoping to see the same sort of growth here in Australia and then throughout Asia Pacific,” said Mark.
“We currently have 50 teams signed up and more than 200 sailors and interest is definitely growing.”