Sport lovers are spoilt for choice in Newcastle this weekend.
And, now, you can add the TP52 Gold Cup to the list of events, which include the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona, the national AON UNI7s Series and City of Newcastle NewRun – Festival of Running, too.
A blast of cannon fire from Fort Scratchley will signal the start of SailFest Newcastle’s signature event about 12.30pm on Saturday 10 April, with eight yachts hitting the line off Newcastle’s coast.
It’s believed to be the biggest gathering of the international class anywhere in the world over the past year, as Europe’s Super Series was suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19 and doesn’t resume until July, while a number of Australian events were also cancelled.
Among the fleet are former Sydney-Hobart winner Ichi Ban, Patrice, Denali, Matador, Quest and Smuggler for the first time, joining Celestial and Koa from the previous Gold Cup in 2019.
Aboard are many of Australia’s top professional and champion sailors.
Built entirely of carbon fibre, the boats have powerful sail areas and deep keels for exceptional performance.
In stronger breezes they surf at well over 20 knots under spinnaker.
The world-class sailing action began earlier today (9 April) on Newcastle Harbour with the opening salvos of the Sailing Champions League Asia Pacific match-racing finals.
Top yacht club crews from Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, the Defence Forces, Sydney and Newcastle are racing directly in front of Honeysuckle Hotel over the three days.
From 2pm tomorrow (10 April) on the Stockton shoreline will be an iconic race known as the Cock of the Harbour, run by Port Hunter Skiff Sailing Club to determine the fastest sailing craft on the harbour.
Not only is it one of Australia’s oldest sailing trophies, the event is also arguably one of the richest off-the-beach races in the country as the high-performance skiff, dinghy and catamaran classes will vie for monetary vouchers.
“Everyone’s welcome … skiffs, cats, MGs, Moths, VSs, 49ers, Flying Ants – everyone,” club stalwart Arran Gore said.
“And, anyone can win.
“In light winds, the 16s are hard to beat, whereas the cats like fresher conditions.”
Not too fresh though – the defending champion from 2019 is the Port Hunter 16-Foot skiff Kilo, piloted by Rob Flanagan, Anthony Johnson and Graham Roberson, who outlasted the much-fancied multihulls as the breeze built to gale strength.
Families can also participate in a free Try-Sailing experience in the sheltered waters of Throsby Basin, adjacent to Carrington Bridge, running between 10am and 2pm on both days.
It will give novices of all ages the chance to learn a new skill aboard one of NCYC’s OziOpti trainers, pacer dinghies or windsurfers.
Kids can also visit the Pirates of the Carro-bbean face-painting stall.
Continuing the pirate theme on the Saturday night, competitors will follow a map to some of the treasures of Newcastle’s pub scene, all close to the Harbour.
The regatta, supported by City of Newcastle and NSW Maritime, rekindles more than 175 years of sailing history on the port.
Boating education officers will also be running lifejacket servicing clinics over the weekend and providing safety advice.