Highlight of Regatta Week is the iconic Milang to Goolwa Freshwater Classic Yacht Race

CALM WATERS: Racing action from the 2019 Milang to Goolwa Freshwater Classic.
CALM WATERS: Racing action from the 2019 Milang to Goolwa Freshwater Classic.

Goolwa Regatta Week is proudly organised by the Goolwa Regatta Yacht Club (GRYC) and starts on January 18.

In 2020, the GRYC is conducting the 50th edition of the iconic Milang to Goolwa Freshwater Classic Yacht Race and the club will celebrate it Golden Anniversary event.

Over the years the club has expanded the program of events to run for the preceding week with strong community support.

The highlight of the week will be the 2020 Milang to Goolwa Freshwater Classic on Sunday, January 26, with the large fleet starting at Milang and first away being Vintage Riverboats at 9am.

Goolwa Regatta Week will provide lots of reasons for yachties, casual sailors, families, friends and holiday-makers to spend the week in this beautiful part of Australia.

The iconic race, 50 kilometres from Milang across Lake Alexandrina to Point Sturt, Clayton with its cliffs, downstream on the Murray River to Goolwa is a sailor's dream.

The Classic is sponsored by Coorong Quays on Hindmash Island and Finniss River Vineyards

GRYC spokesperson said there were many excellent public viewing points at Milang, Point Sturt, Clayton town cliffs and along the riverside on Liverpool Road, Goolwa and Hindmash Island.

"Regatta Week activities start on Saturday, January 18 with the Marina Challenge, a sailing race through the canals of Coorong Quays. It is great fun to sail in and the residents all get involved with advice to the competitors, as they go past and a bit of friendly banter as each yacht crosses the finish line," the spokesperson said.

"Presentations are at The Islander's Tavern after the two races, while on Sunday, January 19, is the Aqua Spectacular with Vintage Boat, Sailability and Dinghy sailing all out on the water, while on land there is a sand castle building contest, pool toy race and radio controlled yachts with food and refreshments available."

During Regatta Week the one of the big draw cards is the Kies Home Hardware 'Dash For Cash' on Friday, January 24 at 6pm.

Fast yachts on a tight course, no quarter or favours given, as some of Australia's best Trailer Yacht sailors swing into action. The races are short, fast and sometimes loud and is a great spectator event.

The activities continue right throughout the week, as on Saturday, January 25, is the Big Breakfast at GRYC, Barrage Road, Goolwa.

"All your favourite breakfast dishes, bacon, eggs, toast, cereal and maybe some delights by Darcy and Nicole. Then for most competitors, it's a leisurely sail to Milang and a catch up at the Milang Regatta Club with old and new friends before a good night sleep before the big race," the spokesperson said.


From friendly wager to iconic Regatta Week, it is all part of Goolwa's rich sailing history.

There were originally two of the more colourful characters of the Goolwa community, Bill Appleby and Bill Ballard, who owned the yachts 'Esther' and 'Edith'.

They were constantly arguing about whose yacht was the fastest on the river.

In order to settle the argument a 'decent' race was planned and sailed on December 27, 1966 - originally raced from Goolwa to Milang, it was destined to become Australia's biggest freshwater race.

The two yachts were very evenly matched in those days and for the first three years the biggest winning margin was only three and a half minutes, while the closest margin was just 12 seconds.

'Esther' won the first two, while 'Edith' the third.

As the race went on, more and more sailors joined in and eventually the schedule was changed to allow for the race to finish in it's original home of Goolwa.

It has since established itself as a South Australian yachting classic, the Milang to Goolwa Freshwater Classic.