THE 10th anniversary Sail Port Stephens in April 2017 is set to gain an even greater injection of IRC royalty following the announcement that the Australian Yachting Championships will be held in Sydney just a week or so earlier.
We last saw the national titles in NSW in 2014 when hosted by the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club. Since then they moved to Hamilton Island in late August, however the new March 23-26 timing will give blue-ribbon competitors good reason to stay on.
From there it’s a leisurely margarita cruise to the NSW IRC Championship and Port Stephens Trophy series hosted annually by the Sail Port Stephens regatta, which was fortuitously moved to an earlier timeslot of April 3 to 9.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia will host the Australian Yachting Championships, with Australian Sailing chief executive officer Matt Carroll saying the club is well equipped to deliver.
“Hamilton Island has been a wonderful host for the past two years, treating competitors to an array of racing conditions in the warm Queensland waters,” Carrol said. “We expect the CYCA will deliver another exceptional event for competitors across the divisions.”
CYCA commodore John Markos said the club was keen to see how the fleet handled conditions outside Sydney Harbour. “We look forward to welcoming many local and interstate competitors to our club for what promises to be a great competition,” he said.
The event showcases racing for IRC, ORCi and PHS. In 2017, it will comprise two days of windward/leeward courses and two days of passage racing.
Sail Port Stephens regatta director Paul O’Rourke is confident many of the competitors will be looking for more action while still in top racing shape.
“Interstate boats will be able to stop over on their way home while for the top international entries like Beau Geste there’s a doubly good reason to sail the two regattas,” O’Rourke said.
“Our race track has been called the best in Australia and the social life second to none, so we have plenty to offer.”
Sail Port Stephens has left its traditional NSW school holiday timeslot behind to avoid a clash with the peak Easter period, freeing up more marina berths at d’Albora Marina Nelson Bay, The Anchorage and Soldiers Point Marina.
This year’s NSW IRC Championship attracted 27 yachts, spearheaded by five TP52s, while in total there were 130 entries and 850 competitors across the board.
The Super 11 division staged its inaugural NSW titles and is keen to expand in 2017 while the sports boats are also considering holding a national title under the regatta banner.
The Junior One-Sail dinghy division remains in the first week of the holidays (11-12 April) so it can serve as a complementary event for the Combined High Schools regatta on Lake Macquarie.
Several other class and industry events are also planned for an ‘endless summer of sailing’ throughout April, supported by Port Stephens Council. The Women Who Sail group will also link with Sail Port Stephens.