Counting down days to Marlay Point Yacht Race

The annual Marlay Point Yacht Race is coming up. Photo: Contributed

UNLIKE many annual events on the sporting calendar, and with great lateral thinking on the part of the organisers, the Marlay Point Yacht Race has been able to continue unhindered, despite strict COVID regulations over the past couple of years. Both Lake Wellington Yacht Club and Gippsland Lakes Yacht club boast expansive and picturesque grounds, which enabled all aspects of the event to be undertaken in the great outdoors when regulations banned internal gatherings.

This yacht race, organised for 50 years by the Lake Wellington Yacht Club, is now a joint collaboration between Lake Wellington Yacht Club and the Gippsland Lakes Yacht Club, based in Paynesville. It is supported by a number of Gippsland businesses, as well major sponsor, Keeley Marine Supplies.

The overnight race was designed to give sailors with an overnight race experience in the relative safety of sheltered inland waters. As such, it provides an excellent training program for less experienced sailors and is great fun to boot. So much so, that many sailors come back year after year.

With just over a month to go until the 55th Marlay Point Overnight Yacht Race, the organising committee is deep into final preparations for the event, which is held on the Victorian Labour Day weekend in March. This year, there will be no restrictions on social gatherings, which means that sailors will be able to enjoy their hearty breakfast, or a social beverage (but not too many) at the yacht club in Paynesville after they cross the finish line.

The starting gun sounds at sunset just off Marlay Point, and the yachts sail across Lake Wellington, through the McLennan Straight and into Lake Victoria. From there, competitors continue on to Paynesville, with the smaller, slower yachts finishing at the yacht club, while the faster boats continue on their way through the McMillan Straits to circumnavigate Raymond Island, before rounding Montague Point to also finish at the yacht club.

With more than 100 boats expected to enter, the race creates a great spectacle for visitors and residents along the shores of the Gippsland Lakes, especially if the wind is from the west, enabling the yachts to hoist their colourful spinnakers.

Entries are now open through

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