Entries are rolling in and d’Albora Marina is near to being fully occupied in terms of temporary berthing for this year’s Sail Port Stephens, April 13 –19, 2015.
Event manager Dom Grundy says “a lot of familiar names and faces are returning to Sail Port Stephens, plus we’ve taken many enquiries from new owners who have heard the rumours. They are keen to be part of the ideal combination of day racing then linking up with crew and family each afternoon to sample the local eateries and many other activities away from the marina.
“D’Albora might be close to capacity however Anchorage and Soldiers Point marinas both still have plenty of room,” Grundy advises.
Owners of the 45-footer Colortile, Warren and Kristy Buchan, and their fun loving Cronulla Sailing Club team embody the regatta’s essence. At the end of series trophy presentation last year the sailors from the Shire were announced recipients of the Spirit of Sail Port Stephens trophy. “We didn’t know about the spirit trophy, it was a great way to share the rum prize with the other crews and meet the wives on the dancefloor,” Kristy said. “We are a happy bubbly crew; we don’t take things too seriously.”
Not content with one Cronulla entry, the Buchans are doing a great sales job on other CSC members and reckon they have one maybe two first timers heading north from Port Hacking in autumn. “It’s like a mini Hamo [Hamilton Island Race Week] only much easier for us to get to, that’s why we love it,” Kristy says. “We have the same crew with us every year, plus extras. They ask six months in advance!
“We love that there’s so much available accommodation at a good price and it’s flat and easy to walk to the yacht club from the apartments. We really enjoy the bands and the presentations, but we want more crews to go out for dinner and drinks in the evening. The more the merrier…. and then the restaurants and pubs will stay open longer for us!”
Warren is the helmsman and Kristy handles the pit, meaning she’s the puppeteer with the thick skin standing in the companionway pulling on and letting off the ropes that hoist and lower the sails. “Warren likes to rev me up,” she admits. “I’ve offered up my position, but not many want to do it. Plus they can’t multitask as fast as I can.”
Colortile is entered in the Commodore’s Cup and Performance Racing Series, the crew preferring the picturesque courses around Nelson Bay and the islands just outside the entrance over the short IRC courses off the beach in open water. Inshore there are navigational challenges and it’s shallow in parts. Last series Colortile suffered a public grounding, stuck firm on its three plus metre keel in the middle of the bay mid-race. “We know to be more wary this year of a certain inshore sandbank,” Kristy promises.
Adrian Walters has enjoyed multiple Port Stephens regattas crewing for others. This year he’s ranked an owner and is bringing his new Rob Shaw 11m canting keel harbour racer called Little Nico to the start line in the Performance Racing Series, where he’ll meet up with the Buchans.
Carrying the nickname of Walters’ now grown up daughter, Little Nico is due to be launched from Middle Harbour Yacht Club at the end of the month. If all goes to plan the Sydney Harbour Regatta is where the day boat will debut, followed by Sail Port Stephens in April.
Drawn up by successful sports boat designer Rob Shaw and built at Morisset on the NSW central coast by Van Munster Boats, Walters describes his toy as “a brand spanking new out-and-out harbour racer with no accommodation; a little bit like an MC38 only smaller. It’s more of a downwind boat and we should get a planing hull happening. We’ll sail at Port Stephens with eight on board. I’ve been to Port Stephens many times as crew and for fishing tournaments. I really like the place; it’s perfect for sailing, fishing and relaxing.”
Four divisions and two regatta halves means crews can make a choice on how serious their campaign, and how long they wish to spend at the popular seaside holiday destination.
The first stage Commodore’s Cup Cruising series April 13-15 precedes a layday for the keelboat fleet and the second and final day of the Junior Off the Beach One Sail on Thursday April 16th. On Friday 17th the Port Stephens Trophy events and NSW IRC Championship commence and run through to Sunday April 19, 2015. One design racing returns to Sail Port Stephens, this time the Sydney 38 class contesting its NSW state title over the closing weekend.
Pantaenius’ major sponsorship continues for the second year and Sail Port Stephens is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.
The Notice of Race and other regatta documents are available here
– Lisa Ratcliff