Crews tired but happy after an exciting final day at Sail Port Stephens
“I was watching the weather models all night and we were not expecting the weather to get fresh until around 1pm.” Denis Thompson, Principal Race Officer.
The third and final day of the NSW Yachting Championships and Act 3 of the TP52 Gold Cup at Sail Port Stephens was an exciting one for competitors, and for the race team. Everyone had been watching the weather carefully, determined not to be caught out after the sublime conditions of the previous two days.
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.
With a confirmed 1125 start time most boats were on the course by 1045 to check the conditions and get into rhythm. 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 with a few boats using discretion and calling it a day early. TP52 Zen went home, the big blue RP52 Virago opted out, and the local boat 51st Project unfortunately suffered some gear failure on the way out and had to do a u-turn for the dock.
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.”
Time to start racing. First off the line was Division 1 with most of the TP52s itching to harness the stronger wind. Zen was out, and Frantic was having some sail issues, but the rest of the fleet were neck and neck powering for the start with First Light across first followed very closely by Smuggler and Secret Mens Business.
Mains were being ‘feathered’ and crew hiking for all they were worth as the conditions continued to get stronger. PRO Thompson again “We had a good course set. Course 2 at 240 was the call and we sent them away. Just as they started, we recorded 20-22knots, and then after the start we were getting gusts of over 30 knots.”
At over 30 knots of wind speed boats start to broach, sails start to tear, and gear starts to break. Thompson called it a day. All three divisions got a race start. They 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. A good call from the race committee, and a lot of sailors with tales to tell.
The final presentation for the NSW Yachting Championships and Act 3 of the TP52 Gold Cup was held in the afternoon and was a crowded affair as the sailors gathered with their war stories.
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 Donalds Gweilo also took second in both. Both boats are out of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. 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.
David Doherty, owner of Matador, and boat captain James Corrie were rightly pleased with the wins telling us that they “just want to thank our crew, they’re a great group of guys, they all pitch in, they’re all invested. We’re grateful to have some of the most talented sailors in the country and in the world that enable us to lift to new heights.”
Then the last word from once again from PRO Denis Thompson. “A great range of courses, a great range of boats. Sail Port Stephens is always good sailing, and always has a terrific atmosphere.”
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.
Story: Sail Port Stephens Media Team
Photos by Salty Dingo