Haunting regatta resurrected

THE haunting vision of vessels slowly fading into a foggy abyss is the allure that keeps the Latrobe Valley Yacht Club’s Sauna Sail afloat year after year.

Cancelled last year due to blue green algae in the Hazelwood Pondage and the Hazelwood mine fire crisis, LVYC’s premier event on the annual calendar is set to return this long weekend.

Characterised by the distinctive steamy waters of the pondage, exacerbated by the winter chill, Sauna Sail has been a popular drawcard since its introduction in the mid 1960s.

“That’s the unique setting… what they love doing is sailing out into the fog,” LVYC treasurer Bruce James said.

“There’s a lot of very good sailors that come along and get a sail in the middle of winter before they go off to Europe.

“There’s not a lot of winter events so this is one they like to get to.”

After a disrupted year, which saw LVYC lose use of the pondage for half the 2014 season, the club has experienced an upswing in 2015 with double the number of boats regularly competing.

James is hoping that will translate into a healthy showing on the water this long weekend, with a target of 140 plus entrants from Victoria and interstate.

“It’s very important for the club it’s our major fundraiser for the year… we’re a small club so everyone puts in 100 per cent,” James said.

“It’s probably about 300 or 400 people that come into the Valley for the event… they have a great time.”

Sauna Sail is open to sailors of all classes and abilities, from novice through to elite, while the recent introduction of Hansa Dinghy classes opening the way for sailors with a disability to take part in the program.

James said the key to Sauna Sail’s success was its family friendly nature, with a long standing tradition of kin competing both with and against one another.

“There’s been three generations of (the same) families, racing against each other or in different boats, all in the same regatta together which happens quite frequently,” he said.

“It’s a serious regatta but it’s more of a social serious regatta, a lot of people from a lot of different yacht clubs meet up every year.”

Sauna Sail will begin from noon on Saturday with a briefing, followed by races on Saturday afternoon, Sunday, and Monday morning.

Competitors are required to arrive by 10.30am on Saturday for preparation and entries will be accepted on the day.

For more information or to register for Sauna Sail visit www.lvyc.org.au