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Port Stephens fleet sailing towards perfection

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By day three in regattas, the cobwebs have been shaken-off, the crew dynamics are coming together and the muscle memory of putting in an optimum tack should be kicking in.

And, that’s pretty much how it panned out in the Sail Port Stephens Passage Series on Wednesday 17 April, which got underway in brilliant sunshine after the fleet waited for the nor’easter to fill in.

It made the first leg out to Cabbage Tree Island an upwind beat.

Happy campers competing in Sail Port Stephens. Photo: Promocean Media

In division 1, Adrian Walters’ well-known Shaw 11-metre Little Nico and R/P 52 Virago made the most of the 10-knot breeze funnelling through the waterway’s spectacular sentinels, Tomaree and Yacaaba Heads.

They capitalised further as the wind built on subsequent figure-of-eight legs around Little and Boondelbah Islands.

It ended with a glamour spinnaker run back into the Bay and westwards to the finish.

Little Nico, considered by many as being a high-performance benchmark on any course, clocked 12-15 knots with its asymmetric up on the final run.

Owner Adrian Walters, while pleased with the day’s results, admitted he’d appreciate more of the wind gods’ fickle favours.

“The more it blows, the better we, and the boat, like it,” he agreed.

While the Shaw 11’s hooting top speed of 24.3 knots on Sydney Harbour is impressive enough, Walters says the pocket rocket’s big strength is its ability to maintain high averages.

And, he acknowledges his boat is a bit of a crowd favourite.

“As we were reaching along we saw the guys on the cruising boats doing six knots giving us a wave, they seemed to be enjoying watching us do it,” he laughs.

Little Nico’s elapsed time of two hours 38 minutes and 39 seconds secured it the division 1 handicap win from Virago, while Noel Cornish’s always-immaculate Farr 40 Indi returned to the podium in third.

Peter Farrugia’s Bull 9000 Bullwinkle prevailed in division 2. Photo: Promocean Media

In division 2, Peter Farrugia’s Bull 9000 Bullwinkle built on a good start near the pin end and had caught some of the bigger boats by the second lap around the islands.

“We had a fantastic day – it was great to go outside,” he recounted.

“It made-up for the past two days that had been a bit frustrating for us.

“We’re having a great time here and it’s not all about the results, though it’s nice to get one.

“One of the best things is how people who are new to sailing are enjoying it so much.”

Sea Hawk improved one on the previous day’s third place to hold-off Justin Mitchell’s Adams 10 Rant & Rave, a Sail Port Stephens regular, by just five seconds on corrected time.

Ralf Moller and his mates from the Avalon Sailing Club on Pittwater had Kookaburra nicely-tuned for a win in division 3. Photo: Promocean Media

Ralf Moller and his mates from the Avalon Sailing Club on Pittwater have Ralf’s Hanse 400 Kookaburra nicely-tuned and used their big A1 to full advantage for a win in division 3.

“The boat is very well set-up and also goes extremely well upwind,” he said.

“Today really suited us and we’ve been even goose-winging the kite as we don’t have a symmetrical.”

Forever Young from the Royal Motor Yacht Club and Ataraxia II from the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club also found the conditions to their liking with second and third respectively.

In division 4, Antony Henderson and his crew on his Salona 35 Split notched two bullets in a row, while in the Non-Spinnaker Division Allsail Leeward had good reason to celebrate with a victory after consecutive seconds on the first days.

With a lay on Thursday, crews rocked-on at the Sail Port Stephens Street Party on Wednesday night, with an eclectic set courtesy of Newcastle trio Love that Hat.

Racing resumes on Friday 19 April in a building southerly up to 17 knots and predicted rain, re-setting the racing dial for the final two days.

  • Sail Port Stephens Media

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