Sail Port Stephens celebrates major regatta success

The Sail Port Stephens fleet at the heads. Photo: Hoover.

PORT Stephens was host to the second largest sailing regatta in the country over the past two weeks.

Just when it looked like the Sail Port Stephens (SPS) Passage Series couldn’t grow any further, the iconic regatta once again surpassed trends with a record fleet of 115 entries.

Among the entries were a large number of first-time competitors who didn’t have the advantage of rebooking from 2023.

The event was preceded by a race to the harbour from Newcastle.

No SPS would be complete without Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) member Greg Newton competing in a Beneteau called ‘Antipodes’.

He has done so without fail for the past sixteen regattas, aboard a 42s7, a First 47.7, an Oceanis 523 and most recently an Oceanis 45, all bearing the same moniker.

Newton is also a long-term regatta sponsor through his company, Rolly Tasker Sails.

“I believe I’m one of only two owners who’s done every regatta, the other being ‘Jeanneau’ sailor Peter Lewis from Middle Harbour Yacht Club,” Newton said.

“The initial attraction was that it’s so close to Sydney, and once you’re there you can set the boat up and enjoy five or six days of sailing – that’s the beauty of it.

“The blend of inshore and offshore sailing is also fantastic for cruising sailors because some days you think ‘geez it’s going to be rough out there’ and then they run an inshore course.”

The timing for the 2024 series coincided with the NSW school holidays for the first time since 2017.

“Our regatta dates change each year to avoid clashing with Easter and other calendar events, so falling inside the school holidays this year caused some initial trepidation,” Regatta Director Paul O’Rourke said.

“But in our 17th year it’s going to be the biggest and hopefully best ever, both on and off the water.”

Pittwater’s Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club had 18 starters in the regatta, ahead of custodians Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (twelve) and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (eleven).

Nine locals from Port Stephens Yacht Club were added to the mix.

Local yachts and their crews used their local knowledge and had strong results with Julain Bell’s ‘51st Project’ taking out sixteenth place with 66 points in Division One.

In division Two Dennis Hume and his crew on ‘Wubaray’ took out 22nd place and ‘Una Vita’ skippered by Peachey and Rundle came 24th on 87.5 and 92.5 points respectively.

They were followed by fellow Port Stephens Yacht Club members ‘Raptor’ under Richard Kerr on 97 points, and ‘She’s The One’ under Michael Kirby on 101 points.

In Division Three the local sailors also ranked well with Steve Liney’s Bellamy taking third place on 59 points and in the non-spinnaker divisions Port Stephens Yacht Club members rated with Graeme Ellis’s Adios in sixth place, John Booth’s Larceny in eighth place and Rick Pacey’s Elusive in tenth place.

Mr O’Rourke urged anyone thinking of coming to 2025 Sail Port Stephens to get in early and reserve a berth for the Passage Series, which will run from Monday March 31 to Saturday April 5.

At the event’s presentation night, Port Stephens MP Kate Washington confirmed that the NSW Government, via Destination NSW, will continue its long-standing commitment to the event.


The MV Tea Gardens, an Original Tea Gardens Ferry, crosses the bay with the regatta in the background. Photo: Salty Dingo and Pantaenius Australia.

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