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Committee for Geelong's Weekly Addy Opinion Piece - Festival of Sails

As preparations continue for Geelong's Festival of Sails event taking place 22 - 26 January, it is timely to emphasise the importance of major events to our region.  Last year, the Committee for Geelong hosted a briefing at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club to highlight the opportunities available to Geelong in potentially hosting the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. 

The first Clipper Round the World Yacht Race was established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to perform a single-handed non-stop circumnavigation of the globe.  A record number of people now follow the race, with a cumulative audience of more than 3.3 billion people in over 200 countries seeing news coverage. Therefore, any opportunities for Geelong to be involved with the Clipper Race is a very exciting proposition.

In order to see first-hand the magnitude of the Clipper 2015-16 Race start, the Committee for Geelong was represented at the event in London.  It was a high profile launch, with a significant level of national media coverage, large crowds and a high impact launch programme.  Each boat slipped its lines and sailed into the river Thames. Families and guests were able to board a number of leisure boats and follow the boats along the river. The boat sponsors receive a huge amount of coverage with many organisations using their sponsorship to help build a global profile.  Race organiser Clipper Ventures worked hard to deliver a very professional event and use the launch to great effect for those involved. It provided a terrific spectacle.

The Derry-Londonderry-Doire sponsored boat is a good example of how a city has become a partner with the Clipper Race. The race called in there previously and, as a result, the city decided to sponsor a boat to promote the region on a global basis.  They used this partnership to support regeneration and attract businesses, as well as promoting its cultural offer to support tourism.

The Committee for Geelong will continue to advocate for major national and international events to come to our region. Feedback from our members confirms that organisations are interested in engaging with global opportunities presented by events such as the Clipper Race.  It may be a sporting event but it is also an economic, social and cultural vehicle for regeneration and development in the ports it calls into.  We have already witnessed this with the success of the fantastic Festival of Sails event, hosted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club each year.

For anyone questioning the investment made to retain and grow our major events, remember that every dollar spent is returned many times over.  The Derry City Council reported a return of 5:1 on its Clipper Race investment, meaning for every £1 spent, £5 was returned in economic value to the region. The potential in hosting these types of events should not be underestimated and, as Geelong transforms, these boosts to our regional economy will continue to prove vital well into the future.  For more information on the Festival of Sails visit

Rebecca Casson is the Committee for Geelong Chief Executive Officer. Follow the Committee for Geelong on Twitter @Comm4Geelong.



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