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Sail Port Stephens Bay Series sailors treated to sparkling conditions


Off-the-beach sailing was the winner at the weekend on day two of the Sail Port Stephens Bay Series.

More than 90 vessels, comprising sports boats, J70s, international canoes, RS Aeros, finns, OK dinghies, windsurfers and a smorgasbord of other classes, competed on three race tracks.

Hosted by Bay Sailing Centre, and under the gaze of local spectators relaxing on deck chairs provided by Port Stephens, the sailors were treated to a magical westerly breeze gusting to 15 knots.

Photo: Promocean Media

Intent on not wasting the champagne conditions, with considerably stronger winds predicted for Sunday 21 May, the race management teams achieved four races for the off-the-beach classes and five for the windsurfers.

There were some tired bodies feasting on free pizza and enjoying the apres-sailing hospitality of event sponsor Bannisters Port Stephens.

That said, a number of competitors have participated in all three regattas under the Sail Port Stephens format, amounting to 10 days of racing with one still to play.

Photo: Promocean Media

Among them are Julian Bell and his 14-year-old son Arthur, who own the Farr 51 51st Project that sailed the Passage Series and Windward-Leeward.

They’re now crewing aboard sports boats.

“I get so excited leading up to Sail Port Stephens, it’s my favourite time of the year and I’m already so keen for next year,” Arthur said.

The Australian Sports Boat Association and J70 fleets resumed their racing after completing three windward-leewards on the Friday.

The newly-launched Don’t Panic, helmed by Nicky Bethwaite and designed and built by 49er designer Julian Bethwaite as a COVID-lockdown project, scored two firsts and a fourth to lead the way from Malcolm Dean’s ever-consistent Shaw 650 Black Betty.

Swish was the overnight leader. Photo: Promocean Media

Steven Proud’s Swish was the overnight leader after also posting two wins along with a second placing.

Also consistent was Joust70, helmed by Rod Warren.

Those results remained the same after a further three races, Don’t Panic winning all three on line and handicap honours to step further clear of Black Betty, Brett Davis’s The Cube moving into third.

Joust70 reeled in some points with two first placings and a third, while Karyn Gojnich steered Jabiru into third overall.

Photo: Promocean Media

Leading lights in the windsurfer class, with 26 starters, are Mitch Cooper, Greg Kay and Josh Green, with skiff legend Andrew “Dolly” Divola holding down fourth.

Matt Visser showed exceptional consistency in the finns, posting three second placings and a first, rival Rob McMillan taking the first three heats then being deemed OCS in the last race of the day.

Grant Wakefield leads the OK class  and Gary Ratcliffe the RS Aeros.

The event wraps up on Sunday with racing scheduled to start at 11am, conditions allowing.

  • Sail Port Stephens media team

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