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Island views, sublime sailing during Sail Port Stephens


The best aspects of regatta sailing crystalised for the record fleet contesting the second day of the Sail Port Stephens Passage Series.

Comprising the Commodores Cup and Port Stephens Trophy, it turned out to be a highly-memorable event on Tuesday 16 April, threading out through the Port Stephens Heads and around the course’s spectacular offshore islands, before a champagne run under spinnaker back to the finish off d’Albora Marina.

With a variable 8-to-10-knot south-westerly breeze providing a significant boost from the previous day, shoreline spectators were treated to the sight of division 1 leaders Virago, Little Nico and Dirty Deeds powering off the start line with asymmetric spinnakers.

Virago claimed a coveted double; line and handicap honours. Photo: Promocean Media

Virago, a RP 52 from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and owned by Robert Kelly, stretched her legs on the 20-plus nautical mile scenic tour sailed by the bulk of the 115-strong fleet.

It claimed a coveted double; line and handicap honours in two hours 12 minutes, and 39 seconds.

Dirty Deeds, a Botin & Carkeek GP 42 from the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, posted a big improvement from Monday’s 15th to secure second, while Little Nico rounded out the podium.

Unfortunately, a knee injury meant Virago’s owner Kelly, a Sail Port Stephens regular, couldn’t be on board for the win.

But, tactician Andrew Parkes described the race as a “glamour day”.

“You’re racing around the islands with tide and current,” he added.

“It’s interesting tactically and you have to be on the right part of the course at the right time to capitalise.”

Virago’s average upwind speed of about 8.5 knots made for a very pleasant day’s outing but Parkes rated the VMG running on the downwind leg from the Box Beach mark to Cabbage Tree Island as the highlight of the race.

Michael Stuart’s C&C30 One Design Let’s Go secured double honours in division 2. Photo: Promocean Media

It was obviously the fast boats’ day with Michael Stuart’s C&C30 One Design Let’s Go securing double honours in division 2 from Matt Bonser’s Watch Me, with well-known Farr 44 Sea Hawk owned by Pete and Drew van Ryn in third.

Division 3 winner was Absolut, an Archambault A35, from Peter Mumford’s Beneteau First 36 Carte Blanche, with Gerald Morcombe’s J/99 Echo less than a minute behind on corrected time in third.

Split, a Salona 35, triumphed in division 4 thanks to slick crew work and the input of “my therapist”, according to owner Antony Henderson.

He also apportioned credit to a “series of good decisions with some luck in the fluky Port Stephens wind pockets”.

Majella, David Cartmer’s Elan 31, was a solid second, while the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club counted another podium with Kyle Handcock’s Neverland’s third place.

MWF-Joy and Allsail Leeward fought out a repeat of day one’s positions in the Non Spinnaker Division, holding down first and second respectively with Elara, a Beneteau Oceanis 321, moving-up the board from Monday’s seventh.

Sailors could enjoy another dose of Sail Port Stephens perfection on Wednesday with similar light conditions and sunshine forecast for day three ahead of lay day on Thursday.

  • Sail Port Stephens Media

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