North Sails LOFT NEWS
IMPRESSIVE TURNOUT FOR SAIL PORT STEPHENS
Achieving High-End Results With North Sails Experts Onboard
North Sails mounted a huge turnout at Sail Port Stephens 2019, both in terms of clients achieving high-end results and staff crewing across the range of boats which made up two sets of record fleets. Now in its 12th year, the popular autumn series, which is broken into two halves and open for entry to either or both, had a waiting list of owners wishing to enter but unable to find a marina berth over the busy period – a good reason to enter early for the 2020 edition! Dates are yet to be announced.
The first-half Bannisters Port Stephens Commodores Cup – designed for cruiser-racers with a daily passage race making up the pointscore – enjoyed the best conditions of the week-long regatta, a light air opener for the stunning offshore islands course then two windier days for the record 100-strong fleet.
Conditions for the Pantaenius Yacht Insurance Port Stephens Trophy fleet of 150, also a Sail Port Stephens record, were tediously light and fickle on the opening Friday with marginal less hair-pulling on the Saturday. Finally Sunday brought enough wind, remnant from the overnight southerly change though peppered with rain squalls and significant shifts, to complete that day’s closing schedule of windward/leeward and passage races.
On-water postponements, shortened courses, mid-race course adjustments and overnight changes to the racing schedule kept the race committee, led by Denis Thompson, busy between Salamander Bay where the Australian Sports Boat Association national title and VX One state titles were playing out, to the offshore course area.
Results-wise, North clients and staff posted multiple regatta winning low scores across the divisions including the eventual IRC division 2 champion for the fifth consecutive year, Bob Cox’s DK46 Nine Dragons, with Michael Coxon aboard. The Middle Harbour Yacht Club entry staged a late steal in the stronger winds on the final day, Sunday April 14, having been beaten up by the Farr 40s in winds eight knots and less on the Friday and Saturday.
NSW IRC Championship division 1 second-placed Hooligan, Marcus Blackmore’s Pittwater based TP52, had Paul Westlake as part of its well-credentialled team, including Ben Lamb, Ed Smyth from New Zealand and Stacey Jackson, among other talent.
North’s Rob Greenhalgh added his expertise to Sam Haynes’ TP52 campaign, Celestial finishing third in IRC division 1 and taking out the TPR division which is a new Australian-based bespoke scoring system for the TPs based on AMS and the number of professionals aboard.
Rob Pitts’ Farr 40 Double Black remained on the IRC division 2 podium right across the long weekend, North’s Aaron Cole an integral part of the Victorians’ consistency coming off the back of the class’ summer-long season of racing.
Adding their name to the list of North Sails noteworthy results was Steve Barlow’s MC38 Lightspeed, both the Performance Racing division 1 and Super 12 victor. David Griffith and Doug Flynn’s stunning Marten 49 Yarrandi cleaned up Performance Cruising division 1 and Steven Proud’s MC38 Swish, with Sydney-based Billy Sykes calling tactics, picked up second in the Super 12 division and third in Performance Racing division 1.
North Sails staff also picked up Commodore’s Cup top three results crewing on Not a Diamond (Hamish Crossan), Mojo (Jeremy O’Donnell) and the TP52 Gweilo (Kyle Dodds and Andrew Parkes) – 12 staff in total across the week.
While there is a highly competitive thread across most divisions racing at Sail Port Stephens, particularly for the Port Stephens Trophy, another significant draw card for owners and crew is the fact the holiday destination is just 2.5hrs from Sydney by road, and it’s well situated between Brisbane and Melbourne for staging class and multi denominational championships.
Accommodation options are plentiful and varied for crews plus family and friends to join their favourite sailors, shops are handy and boat services are easy to access. The bay offers brilliant flat-water racing made challenging by the tidal flows, sandbanks and land influence, and sailing around the striking uninhabited islands just beyond the Port Stephens entrance resembles the Queensland Whitsundays.
Add in a colourful program of evening social gatherings, including the dress-up Commodore’s Cup prizegiving and sponsored drinks at Broughtons at The Bay where crews gathered religiously after racing for the obligatory debrief, and it’s no wonder record numbers are heading to the Hunter coast for the annual series.
Full results at www.sailportstephens.com.au