Offshore racing at Sail Port Stephens

Flying spinnakers in strong winds proved risky business for some competitors. Photo: Salty Dingo.

WILD weather proved challenging for the crews participating on the last day of the NSW Yachting Championships and Act 3 of the TP52 Gold Cup at Sail Port Stephens.

23 yachts contested the three-day Windward-Leeward Series, which made for some great sailing off the coast with vantage points from Box to Bennetts Beach being enjoyed.

Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson said, “I was watching the weather models all night and we were not expecting the weather to get fresh until around 1pm.”

Warm and waterproof sailing gear was the order of the day, and everyone was on time as all involved geared up to get two quick races in to round off the IRC handicap focused event that is part of one of the most popular sailing regattas on the calendar.

The start line was off Bennetts Beach at Hawks Nest, with the top mark close enough that those in the surf club could sit back and enjoy the action.

As the start time drew closer the short chop and white caps increased, which saw some entries withdrawn, including the local boat 51st Project which unfortunately suffered some gear failure.

Owner of 51st Project, Julian Bell, was a little disappointed with having to pull out of the third day as the Beneteau First 50 would have lapped up the stronger winds.

“We had a great regatta, unfortunately we had to pull out of day three with equipment failure, otherwise it would have been great conditions for us,” he said.

Bell however stayed positive, adding “Sail Port Stephens is such a big part of our sailing calendar, for us it’s a family event, and socialising is also a huge part of that.”

For the second race winds were gusting to over 30 knots.

At this wind speed boats can start to broach, sails start to tear, and gear starts to break.

The yachts punched through the chop to the top mark, rounded, then it was a spinnaker run back to the finish line.

The TP52s were recording over 20 knots of boat speed on the way home to the finish.

Some of the smaller boats decided to run with headsails rather than spinnakers, and a few crews had a bit on their plate as sails blew out.

IRC Division 3 winner was the consistent performer So Farr, the Farr 31 of Dale Sharp out of Lake Macquarie Yacht Club. Sydney 36 Stormaway from Middle Harbour Yacht Club took second place, with another Sydney 36, King Tide, rounding off the podium.

ORC results were almost the same with So Farr on top, then Stormaway and King Tide swapping places.

IRC Division 2 had two Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club boats continuing their battles as Keiran Mulcahy’s King 40 Soozal took first place, and Sail Port Stephens stalwart Gerry Hatton’s Mat 1245 Bushranger second. Nine Dragons, the DK46 from Middle Harbour Yacht club was third.

Again, the ORC results featured the same boats with a slight change in order – Bushranger, Soozal, Nine Dragons.
The TP52s conducted the Pallas Capital TP52 Gold Cup Act 3 in conjunction with Sail Port Stephens and the competition was fierce.

Consistent performer Matador secured the first-place trophy in both IRC and the class TPR rating, Matt Donald’s Gweilo also took second in both.

Third place under IRC was Geoff Boettcher’s Secret Mens Business from South Australia, and third place in TPR was Craig Neil and his crew on Quest.

The whole team at Sail Port Stephens look forward to welcoming you when you next choose to sail at one of the best regattas in Australia.


Heading off on the windward leg. Photo: Salty Dingo.

Leave a Reply