A 20-knot sou’easter propelled a record fleet in record time from Newcastle to Port Stephens, as the feeder race for – you guessed it – a record 2017 Sail Port Stephens regatta in Nelson Bay NSW.
More than 40 yachts crowded the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club start line on an inky grey Harbour then enjoyed a 22-mile two-sail dash across Stockton Bight in steep 2-3 metre seas.
The packed feeder race augured well for Sail Port Stephens, running April 3-9.
The regatta is celebrating its 10th anniversary with its biggest ever fleet of grand-prix and high-performance yachts, along with a packed social calendar.
An estimated 900 competitors, sailing aboard around 110 yachts, will take part.
Uniquely for this event, all levels of sailing and age demographics are engaged. The racing also attracts a strong spectator following to Port Stephen’s shoreline.
A mixed fleet of 70 yachts spread across two divisions will enjoy three days of lower-key racing on Port Stephens.
Among them will be 15 Jeanneau entries, 14 Beneteaus, seven Northshores and a handful of Hanses, as it’s their time to rub gunwales with some of the bigger names in yacht racing.
The ‘No Vacancy’ sign is up at D’ALBORA Marina Nelson Bay, regatta central, and at the nearby Anchorage and Soldiers Point marinas.
“One of our objectives is giving this audience an unforgettable and unique holiday experience while visiting Port Stephens and enjoying the family-friendly environment,” Regatta Director Paul O’Rourke says.
“That’s been one of the key messages from our competitors – don’t mess with the sailing and don’t mess with the socialising.”
The Junior One-Sail dinghy division breaks away from the keelboat series to remain in the first week of the NSW school holidays (11-12 April) as part of an off-the-beach training program.
Regatta patron Matt Allen, President of governing body Australian Sailing, believes there’s something unique about Sail Port Stephens.
“I was talking to some people the other day and asked them to name their favourite regatta – most of them said ‘Port Stephens’, which is interesting,” he says.
“The sailing waters are among the best in Australia and you get some terrific tactical racing against a good fleet of boats. You can also enjoy a couple of beers and have dinner, which brings the friendship and the camaraderie together. You’re not that far away from Sydney … but you’re far enough.”
Organised by Corlette Point Sailing Association, Sail Port Stephens is also supported by Destination NSW, Port Stephens Council, Pantaenius Insurance, Garmin, Port Stephens Accommodation, Port Stephens Strata and more. See the event website www.sailportstephens.com.au.