As Australia commemorated Anzac Day, there were battles aplenty on the water in an action-packed finale to Sail Port Stephens 2021, which saw some surprise victors in a number of divisions.
The two-year break due to 2020’s COVID-enforced cancellation made the contests more willing than ever, yet when the spray settled the winners were grinners and the vanquished vowed to return next season to do it all again.
Dates for 2022, incidentally, are April 4-10.
Ichi Ban owner Matt Allen was delighted to be back at a regatta where he has enjoyed considerable success, taking home the prestigious NSW title for IRC Division 1 along with ORC honours.
Two wins on Sunday (25 April), when it mattered, put an emphatic exclamation mark on the result.
“It was another good day’s racing out there, and everything worked out well. It was a good test of boat speed and tactics,” he said.
“We wanted to hit our straps this weekend.
“We have one more regatta in Newcastle next weekend and that’s it until the Gold Coast Race, so it was nice to get the mojo back and get the boat into top gear.
“I’ve also been busy off the water with what’s going on in world sailing.
“It made it even nicer to get out there and switch the brain to sailing mode.
“Everything else evaporates.”
Keiran Mulcahy’s King 40 Soozal, representing Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, maintained its consistency on the scoreboard despite a few shifts in the breeze, winning IRC Division 2 by four points from the DK46 Khaleesi and Farr 40 Goodform, which overtook Bushranger.
Soozal also achieved the ORC double.
As expected, Dale Sharp’s Sofarr claimed its second consecutive NSW title after finishing the six-race series on 15 points – 11 ahead of runner-up Stormaway, with third-placed Get it On a further point adrift.
The smallest boat in its division, the Farr 31 was muscled out of the first start but recovered to finish third and effectively wrap up the series.
It then posted a seventh in the final race when the pressure was off.
The Italia 11.98 Cicero took home the ORC title for the division.
“It was good to get some breeze again today and we had two excellent races,” race officer Denis Thompson said.
“Really, it has been pretty smooth sailing this week.
“The protest committee was a little busier than normal, but that’s probably to be expected when you have 130 yachts in close quarters.
“We have a lot of happy customers out there, and that’s the main thing.”
Performance Racing Division 1 saw a popular win for Newcastle yacht Mako, with co-owner Tim Dodds at the helm.
“That’s a nice surprise after our first race this morning,” Dodds said when told of the result.
“We blew up our No.1 headsail, which put us behind the eight ball, then we broke the start … which put us even further behind the eight ball.”
The Sydney 40 posted a 10th, it’s worst result of the week, in Race 5 but rebounded with a second in the last race.
“We’re very happy to bounce back after that,” Dodds said.
“The boys hung in there and sailed really well.
“We’ve had some podium finishes before at Airlie Beach, but I think this is the best result for the boat.
“Most of the owners have been on board this week but we also like to bring a few newbies in, so they get the experience as well.”
With PHS handicaps being adjusted after each race, the Beneteau 34.7 Speedwell sped home with a wet sail to snare Performance Racing Division 2 from Agent 88 and Bullwinkle.
Overnight leader Fareast 28R dropped to fifth overall.
There were more movers and shakers in Performance Cruising, Robert Hale’s J122 Jackpot taking a late win in Division 1, as did Port Stephens local Una Vita in Division 2.
Joji made it a two-up for J Boats by maintaining its overnight lead in Division 3.
- by Mark Rothfield