A year after its COVID-19-enforced cancellation, Sail Port Stephens regatta has rebounded in record style, filling marina berths, moorings and motels while boasting the largest number of individual entries across the various yacht, sports boat, dinghy and Windsurfer categories.
From noon on Monday 19 April, 108 yachts across four divisions will contest the 2021 Bannisters Port Stephens Commodores Cup, sailing one of 14 scenic inshore and offshore courses that principal race officer Denis Thompson nominates.
Among Division 1 line-honours contenders will be the Marten 49 Indigo2, DK46 Khaleesi, Shaw 11 Little Nico and local yacht 51st Project, a Beneteau First 50.
The Azuree 46 Kayimai is another regatta regular with a remarkable turn of speed under kite, always well sailed by her Middle Harbour crew.
Port Stephens is paradise found for production cruiser-racers like this, and there’s a raft of entries from the stables of Beneteau, Bavaria, Elan, Hanse and Jeanneau.
Newest of all is Alistair and Alison Rowe’s Elan E4 Marri Nuwi, launched earlier this month for its maiden outing – the yacht’s name, incidentally, means “big canoe” in the indigenous dialect of southern Sydney.
Meanwhile, the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club’s annual feeder race will bring 41 yachts from Newcastle Harbour, with moderate tailwinds predicted for the 22 nautical mile crossing of Stockton Bight.
Indigo2, the Botin/Carkeek GP42 Dirty Deeds and Little Nico are set to lead the way.
Mindful of being a COVIDSafe event, social aspects of SPS21 will be arranged and monitored prudently.
The Wild Oats welcome party is again scheduled for Monday night (19 April) and a “vintage nautical” ball for the Commodores Cup will be staged at Bannisters’ Cheeky Dog. Tickets have sold out.
“This time last year we were stuck at home watching Facebook videos of past regattas, reliving the good times, so it’s fantastic to see so many boats and crews able to come back to Port Stephens,” event director Jennie Hughes said.
“Obviously, there’s a real pent-up demand to enjoy a great week of racing and socialising in this beautiful part of the world.
“In fact, the Bay is at capacity and, unfortunately, a number of yachts just couldn’t get a berth or mooring.
“For those who could, we’re aiming to have 200% as much fun, on and off the water, to make up for lost time, albeit there are measures in place to alleviate crowding and minimise the impact on the local community.”
Thursday’s lay day allows crews to experience the many tourism attractions, along with a Layday Playday charity lunch organised by the Making Waves Foundation.
Racing then swings into top gear from Friday 23 April to Sunday 25 April, under the umbrella of the Port Stephens Trophy series.
- by Mark Rothfield