Set to take place from April 8-14, Sail Port Stephens returns this year bigger and better.
Sail Port Stephens 2019 will accommodate everything from IRC, Super 12 and Farr 40 yachts to cruising boats, trailer sailers, 16-Foot skiffs and junior dinghies.
As always, the Commodores Cup will be held over the first three days, followed by a lay-day to allow crews to enjoy the region’s many attractions. Racing then heats up for the final three days, both inshore and off, with the Pantaenius Port Stephens Trophy.
One of the highlights will be the Garmin NSW IRC Championship, which attracts one of the largest and most competitive fleets on the domestic IRC scene. The Super 12 division, for PHRF-rated boats between 9.1 and 12.2 metres, will also conduct its state titles in conjunction with Sail Port Stephens.
Following consultation with competitors, there are new divisions including a TP52 Class under the IRC banner. Marcus Blackmore, on his Botin-designed Hooligan, will look to defend his NSW crown.
“When you look at the sailing calendar, this is one of the outstanding regattas for IRC boats in Australia,” Blackmore says. “I love coming here because it has great sailing and a real holiday atmosphere, while my wife gets to play golf while I go off sailing.”
There will also be a Cruising Non-Spinnaker Class and Jeanneau Class (spinnaker and non-spinnaker) for the Commodores Cup. That means more prizes up for grabs and an easier task for the handicapping committee.
The 2019 event will welcome the Farr 40 One Design fleet, and in another change of format, racing for the trailer yachts, skiffs and junior dinghies will be staged during the main event.
Separate divisions and courses have been created for trailer sailers, including the Junior Regatta on April 13-14, which is open to competitors under the age of 18 sailing one-sail dinghies such as Optimists, Bic O’Pens, Spirals and Lasers. Port Stephens Sailing and Aquatic Club (PSSAC) in Salamander Bay will be the host club.
It ensures Sail Port Stephens has a new brigade of customers coming through while exposing the local juniors to some outside competition.
The 16-Footers series is a chance for ‘skiffies’ to race competitively in a family-friendly atmosphere.
Newcastle sailmaker Scott Beeby, a 16s sailor and boat sponsor, says: “We race all these hard-core regattas throughout the year but some of the venues aren’t the greatest place to stay for young families.
“We reckon Port Stephens is perfect. You can’t beat the waters for this kind of sailing, and there’s great accommodation and onshore activities.”
The skiffs will sail a mixture of windward-leeward and passage races on the Saturday and Sunday.
“Last year’s inaugural 16-Footers series had 11 starters and they were blown away by the hospitality they received,” Sail Port Stephens regatta director Jennie Hughes said.
“This year we’d love to welcome a few more from Sydney and even Queensland.
“There’s whispers that Port Stephens may get to host a 16's nationals in coming years, so the smart competitors can gain some local knowledge, and I guarantee they’ll have a great time.”
Meanwhile, trailable yacht classes get three days of racing, April 12-14, which includes a long inshore passage race on the Super Saturday under Category 7 safety. Their start line will be off the d’Albora Marina Nelson Bay breakwall, the same as the rest of the Sail Port Stephens fleet.
Early bookings are encouraged for those seeking marina berths.
The social calendar is equally packed, starting with a Monday welcome party hosted by Wild Oats Wines.
The Commodores Cup presentation night has a beach-themed ball.
Jack O’Rourke is a contributor to Ocean Media
Setting the mood
Moody Yachts has revealed its new deck saloon yacht, the DS41. The yacht represents Moody’s focus on luxurious ambience and sense of space, usually only seen on multihulls.
Totally barrier-free, the elegant deckhouse with 360-degree panoramic glazing provides a great deal of living comfort.
The DS41 is designed for safe and sporty sailing. The walk-around deck, the high freeboard and the double forestay guarantee safety and comfort, while the high rig together with the sail plan of 83 square-metres offers the best conditions for an impressive sailing performance.
NSW Roads and Maritime Services have focused on lifejacket safety after running a series of free clinics around the state to help educate boaters about looking after their inflatable lifejackets.
“Everyone needs to know how to conduct a simple pre-wear check every time they use an inflatable lifejacket. It only takes a minute to check the basics like cartridges good to go and screwed in hand tight, and the emergency pull cord is out and ready to go,” said Angus Mitchell, NSW Maritime executive director.
Inflatable lifejackets are required to be serviced every year or in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions.