Last week of Sail Port Stephens a success

One of the competitors in the Port Stephens Yacht Club’s Point Score Series. Photo: Marian Sampson.

THE weekend saw the final instalment of Sail Port Stephens with the ‘Off the Beach’ competitors enjoying great wind conditions with gusts to 15 knots on Saturday.

More than 90 vessels comprising sports boats, J70s, International Canoes, RS Aeros, Finns, OK dinghies, windsurfers and other classes competed on three race tracks in Day 2 of the Sail Port Stephens Bay Series.

The event was hosted by Bay Sailing Centre, with the boats launching off George Reserve and the nearby beach.

Saturday saw four races for the off-the-beach classes and five for the windsurfers, who took full advantage of conditions.

Also racing on Saturday was the fleet of Port Stephens Yacht Club’s Division One, which saw strong competition and a tight finish in a race that avoided conflict with the Sail Port Stephens Regatta fleet.

The win for the Port Stephens Yacht Club race went to Una Vita followed in second place by Shere Khan with the trimaran Chilli taking a well deserved third place despite breaking in a new crew member on the day.

Sail Port Stephens crossed classes of boats however there were some competitors that participated in all three regattas.

Among them were Port Stephens Yacht Club member and Fifty First Project skipper Julian Bell and his fourteen-year-old son Arthur.

“I get so excited leading up to Sail Port Stephens, it’s my favourite time of the year and I’m already so keen for next year,” Arthur Bell said.

The Australian Sports Boat Association and J70 fleets also resumed their racing after completing three windward-leewards on the Friday.

The newly launched Don’t Panic, helmed by Nicky Bethwaite and designed and built by 49er designer Julian Bethwaite, scored two firsts and a fourth to lead the way from Malcolm Dean’s ever-consistent Shaw 650 Black Betty.

Steven Proud’s Swish was the overnight leader after also posting two wins along with a second placing.

Also consistent was Joust70, helmed by Rod Warren.

Those results remained the same after a further three races on the day, with Don’t Panic winning all three on line and handicap honours to step further clear of Black Betty, with Brett Davis’s The Cube moving into third.

Joust70 reeled in some points with two first placings and a third, while Karyn Gojnich steered Jabiru into third overall.
Leading lights in the Windsurfer class, with 26 starters, were Mitch Cooper, Greg Kay and Josh Green, with skiff legend Andrew ‘Dolly’ Divola holding down fourth place.

Matt Visser showed exceptional consistency in the Finns, posting three second placings and a first, with rival Rob McMillan taking the first three heats then being deemed OCS in the last race of the day.

Grant Wakefield leads the OK class, and Gary Ratcliffe the RS Aeros.

After the success of the 2023 Sail Port Stephens Regatta competitors no doubt will be looking to register for the 2024 event.

In 2024 the Commodores Cup (PHS) and Port Stephens Trophy (ORC) will run over five days from 15-20 April.

The SPS Windward-Leeward Series featuring the NSW Yachting Championships, TP52 Gold Cup Act 3 and Rob Hampshire Cup (ORC) runs alone from 26-28 April and the trailables and off-the-beach classes event will be held on 19-21 May.


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