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Sailfest Newcastle Regatta ready to make a splash

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An elite fleet of offshore racing thoroughbreds is assembling at Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (NCYC) this week ahead of the Australian Yachting Championships starting Friday, April 5, as part of the annual Newcastle SailFest Regatta. 

Included will be a dozen TP52s, the largest ever gathering of these grand-prix yachts in Australia, plus two mixed divisions that boast a number of highly credentialled state and club champions. 

Sailfest

Race organisers at the NCYC believe it is the strongest offshore fleet ever to race in the region. 

“We’ve held the Australian Yachting Championships previously but the event has grown in stature since then, and we’ve never had such a strong TP52 presence,” NCYC CEO Paul O’Rourke says. 

“Secret Men’s Business [ a TP52] has been trucked here from South Australia to defend its national title and will face Marcus Blackmore’s brand new Hooligan, along with a number of other top-flight contenders in that class. 

“At the moment the Friday forecast is looking challenging but we’re looking forward to seeing some world-class racing both off the coast and inside the Harbour over the weekend.” 

Sailfest

Weather-permitting, there will be an in-harbour start for the TP52s and offshore divisions from around 11.30am on Saturday, accompanied by a firing of Fort Scratchley’s 80-pound gun. Queens Wharf will provide the best vantage point as the yachts leave the port for an offshore passage race before returning to the finish. 

“The recent Clipper Round the World Yacht Race start sparked incredible interest, and I think the Australian Yachting Championships start could surpass it. It’s a bigger fleet and the yachts are faster,” Paul O’Rourke adds. 

“There will be an absolute buzz around the club too, and visitors are welcome to come and experience the excitement for themselves.” 

As part of SailFest activities, spectators can also catch the historic ‘Cock of the Harbour’ race run by Stockton’s Port Hunter 16ft Sailing Skiff Club, with high-performance catamarans and dinghies vying to be crowned the fastest sailing boat on the harbour. Start time is around 2pm. 

Sailfest

Families can also get involved on Saturday and Sunday, April 6-7, as kids aged 6 to 12 are invited to try sailing for free under the supervision of qualified instructors. The boats will launch immediately in front of the NCYC Clubhouse at 95 Hannell Street Wickham between 10am and 2pm. 

The Australian Yachting Championships will kickstart a month-long sailing spectacle in the Hunter as the yachts then head to Sail Port Stephens, also run under the auspices of the NCYC. Australia’s second-largest regatta, it spans three weekends from April 15 to May 5 and includes the iconic Commodore’s Cup, NSW Yachting Championships, and an off-the-beach series for dinghies and Windsurfers. 

SailFest Newcastle Regatta is supported by the City of Newcastle and Transport for NSW. 

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