Classics to Gippsland

Paynesville set to become a boating paradise as hundreds of boats are expected to line up for two major boating events in March 2018.

24 July 2017


Paynesville set to become a boating paradise as hundreds of boats are expected to line up for two major boating events in March 2018

Two iconic boating events will go back to back on the Gippsland Lakes in March next year, with the Paynesville Classic Boat Rally taking place 3 and 4 March and the C.H Robinson 50th Marlay Point Overnight Race on Labour Day weekend.

The two events are expected to attract hundreds of boats to the Gippsland Lakes, from classic, vintage vessels through to high-performing race yachts, promising a spectacular two weeks of onwater entertainment.

Organisers of both events are hard at work arranging a schedule of events, working on the understanding that many boaties who have had the Gippsland Lakes on their bucket list will take advantage of these two great events to make the trip to the south eastern corner of Victoria.


The Classic Boat Rally will be a celebration of the rich and vibrant marine history found on the Gippsland Lakes. All boats over 30-years-old are eligible to enter. The rally, with over 200 boats expected to take part, takes place through McMillan Strait, with the beautiful Raymond Island as the backdrop. There will also be a maritime dance and a classic parade of sail. There are many shore based activities on offer, including a trade expo, static boat displays, entertainment and workshops throughout the weekend.

Six days later, the C.H Robinson Marlay Point Overnight Race celebrates its 50th race. The Marlay Point is considered Australia’s best-known trailable yacht race, and boats travel from far and wide to take part. To make the most of the events running back-to-back and to encourage boats to stick around, organisers of the Marlay Point are working towards including a classic division. 

The race starts on Lake Wellington at sunset, and boats race through the night to finish in Paynesville the next day. Entry numbers are expected in the hundreds and competing yachts encounter varying conditions, as they race through broad lakes and narrow straits, all under the cover of darkness, adding its own extra challenges and excitement. 

Commodore of the Lake Wellington Yacht Club, Michael Clark, did his first overnighter 45 years ago and has competed in many since. He is looking forward to welcoming sailors to Marlay Point in March, 2018. Over the years, approximately 11,000 boats and over 40,000 sailors have participated in the race. Michael said he expects a lot of them will see the 50th celebration as a reason to return to race again, as well as the many who want to tick the race off their bucket list. 

For those who are making the trip, he recommends sticking around to explore the Lakes. 

“The Lakes are the perfect cruising and racing ground, and the two events, combined with Easter just weeks after, will make the journey all the more worthwhile.”

As for the racing, Michael says it never disappoints and every one of his races has provided a different experience.

“The start line is a visual spectacular, as hundreds of boats motor out, red and green and white lights going every which way… the smooth ripples on the water. Sometimes it seems like molten gold, and that in itself is worth experiencing.”

Raymond Island is once again the backdrop at the finish line. Spectators are invited to watch from the shore as the boats trickle in just after daylight and the Gippsland Lakes Yacht Club are organising a huge celebration afterwards for family, friends, locals and tourists to enjoy.

For more information about both events, follow them on the Paynesville Classic Boat Rally and the Marlay Point Overnight Yacht Race Facebook pages.

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