Please select your home edition
Edition
MS Amlin 2017 Name Change 728x90

Dutch love of sailing united at Festival of Sails

by Festival of Sails Media on 13 Dec 2012 24-28 January 2013
The S80 Merak at the Festival of Sails © Teri Dodds

Dutchmen Bas Huibers and Eric Swaan reunite from opposite ends of the globe once a year at the place they first met. It's not a love story, but a love of sailing story that began when Netherlands based Swaan responded to a 'crew wanted' notice for Geelong Week in 2008.

The original arrangement fell through and Victorian yachtsman and countryman, Huibers, generously stepped in, offering Swaan a ride on his S80 called Merak. And so began an annual pilgrimage that will continue at next January's historic Festival of Sails, January 24 – 28.

"What initially looked like a once in a life time opportunity has now almost turned into a tradition, with this year being my fourth time sailing in the exciting S80 class," wrote Swaan in an email from the Netherlands.

"At first, I had declined the kind invitation but soon thereafter I experienced two very tragic situations which made me realise I should live life to the max as it might change dramatically or even end suddenly. Because Geelong Week sounded great, I got on the plane and flew over for a fantastic regatta."

Bas Huibers is the immediate past commodore of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria and has been an Australian resident since 1994 having emigrated from the Netherlands for work. He is heavily involved in the S80 class, an Australian designed eight metre one-design boat crewed by up to five, which is the largest and most active keelboat fleet on Port Phillip.

"Eric is a committed yachty. Back in 2008 he flew in for the week from the Netherlands and he had a lot of fun. So much that he has been back in 2011, 2012 and he has just booked his tickets to join us again for the 2013 event," said Huibers.

Despite being offered Vegemite every year by the jokesters on Merak, Swaan's decision to leave behind the cold weather each January is a simple one, made even easier by the fact he has a very understanding wife.

"When I came back home after the 2012 edition of the Festival of Sails it was extremely cold, minus 23 degrees Celsius with a wind chill factor taking it even further down. This is another great reason for participating in the regatta - I get a break from the cold weather, even if it is only for a week!"

A co-worker originally brought the Festival of Sails to Swaan's attention, likening it to the UK's longstanding Cowes Week of the southern hemisphere. Through the official crew bulletin board operated by organising club, the Royal Geelong Yacht Club (Crew Registration), Swaan signed on and is now Merak's international rock star, flying in a couple of days before the event starts and home shortly afterwards, but not before celebrating another ritual.

"After the regatta ends, we have a great tradition on the delivery back to Melbourne, which we call the Mussel Cup. We 'race', with all means of propulsion, to Portarlington for lunch at The Grand and after getting back to the city in the evening, I fly out the following day," said Swaan.

As well as catching up with the crew on Merak and other Aussie friends, Swaan espouses Geelong's great weather and sailing conditions, the exciting S80 class and a very well organised event with lots of shoreside activities.

"The S80 has its own division which makes for some very close and exciting sailing. Finishing the passage race within seconds of each other is quite spectacular!" he added.

Merak has been a regular entrant in the S80 class during the Festival of Sails since 1999, Huibers only occasionally missing the highly regarded regatta and major event for Geelong that is a drawcard for interstate and international entries, sailors and their families.

Related Articles

Nic Douglass wrap-up video
Of the Festival of Sails 2017 From the village, to the race course with everything from cruising cats to Sports Boats, and on the final day sailing myself on a Waszp as part of Discover Sailing Day, the Festival of Sails presented by Rex Gorell Land Rover was an incredible event! Posted on 31 Jan
Festival of Sails 2017 overall
Last day put wind into deciders Big winds tested all the cruising and classic divisions on the final day. Cool and fresh SW-SE breezes on Tuesday January 24 provided relief after Monday's scorcher that came with super funky winds, leaving 220 keelboat crews scratching their hot heads. Posted on 25 Jan
The Sailor Girl at the Festival of Sails
A ripper day on the water in Geelong! I was awake at sunrise watching the clouds rip over Corio Bay, knowing it was going to be a ripper day on the water (or maybe I am a little jet lagged, though I won't admit it)! Posted on 24 Jan
Festival of Sails 2017 day 4
Windy wind-up and trophy spoils Sunshine and the most wind of the series, 20-25 knots at times, drained the last of the adrenalin from the 220 or so keelboat crews who have spent four days competing on Port Phillip and Corio Bay for a slice of the Festival of Sails 2017 trophy spoils. Posted on 24 Jan
Festival of Sails 2017 day 3
Heating up in Geelong Geelong baked on day three of the Festival of Sails and the winds ground to nought then finally to a pumping 20 knots out of the sou'west for the late finish of the Rating Series' medium distance race in outer Corio Bay. Posted on 23 Jan
Glamour Super Sunday at Festival of Sails
Capped off with a twilight sail off the Geelong foreshore Super Sunday at the Festival of Sails capped off with a twilight sail off the Geelong foreshore, the perfect end to a blissful day's racing at Australia's oldest sailing regatta and Victoria's oldest sporting trophy, dating back to 1844. Posted on 22 Jan
Melbourne to Geelong Passage Race
Kicks off 2017 Festival of Sails Line honours in the 174th Melbourne to Geelong Passage Race was a repeat of the 2016 finish with Geoff Boettcher's TP52 Secret Mens Business (SA) the first monohull and Bare Essentials (VIC) the first multihull across the finish line. Posted on 21 Jan
Celebrity ProAm at the Festival of Sails
New event added to the already packed program The Royal Geelong Yacht Club has just launched a new event to be added to the already packed program of the Festival of Sails 2017 – a Celebrity ProAm race to be held on Wednesday, January 25. Posted on 17 Jan
Viper Worlds at Geelong overall
Jack Felsenthal and Shaun Connor wrap up the win They led from the outset and at the conclusion of the Viper Worlds 2017 Australians Jack Felsenthal and Shaun Connor (Charter World) beat the immediate past French world champion and took out the series by nine points. Posted on 15 Jan
Viper Worlds at Geelong day 5
Another day blown out A second day of high winds confined Viper Worlds crews to another long wait at the RGYC in Victoria, Australia, before the decision was made at 1500hrs to postpone racing until Sunday January 15, 2017, the final day of the world championship. Posted on 14 Jan