Aroona’s comeback at Sail Port Stephens

Harvey Milne’s Aroona - Sail Port Stephens
Mark Rothfield
Sail Port Stephens - Harvey Milne’s Aroona will return from a competition break under the charge of Lake Macquarie sailor Anthony Paterson for the NSW IRC Championship component of Australia’s fastest growing regatta, Sail Port Stephens.

Aroona enjoyed a stunning offshore season last year and Paterson is looking forward to blowing the last of the dust specks off the champion 31-foot Archambault design in what will be the boat’s first regatta appearance for the year.

'The boat’s in good shape, I’ve just given it a little tickle up underneath and we’ve been out doing the twilights on the Lake for training,' said Paterson, best known for his time at the helm of his series of boats called Tow Truck.

Paterson will be joined by a solid crew including past 505 world and multiple Australian champion, Dean Blatchford, 2010-11 16ft skiff Australian champion, Ricky Bridge, and the current Laser 4.7 Masters Champion Claire Heenan who will be on the bow while husband Andrew will be back in the cockpit.

Paterson’s core Tow Truck crew have all taken other rides, a scenario conducive to plenty of on-water sledging as the tight knit group from the Lake square up against one another.

'We definitely want to beat up on Filby (Brett Filby) and Cabin Boy (Paul Williams) on the Farr 40 Ichi Ban. We also want to see Willy Howard with his hands in the air at the helm of his dad’s Beneteau 40.7 Schouten Passage when things aren’t going so well,' laughs the good natured Paterson.

Last year Paterson crewed on a Beneteau, this year he’s bringing a boatload of his own crew and their families, as well as his own, to Sail Port Stephens.

'I enjoyed myself so much last year I wanted to return with a competitive boat and Harvey has been generous enough to lend us Aroona for which we are very thankful. We hope we can generate the sort of top result this boat has produced in the past.

'Port Stephens is a fantastic place to sail, the waters are magical and the facilities are first class, and so handy to Sydney and Newcastle. We are all bringing our families for a weekend getaway,' Paterson added.

Twenty-seven yachts have now been registered to contest the IRC Championship to be staged over three days, from Friday 15 to Sunday 17 April, under the watchful eye of principal race officer Denis Thompson.

The varied IRC fleet of straight out racers and cruiser-racers includes top performers such as Peter Horn’s King 40 Canute and Paul Clitheroe’s Beneteau 45 Balance, and in amongst the majority NSW line-up, Victoria’s defending champion, Rob Hanna’s JV52 Shogun.

The Commodore’s Cup (11 – 13th April) will precede the IRC Championship, SB3 Australian Championship and Port Stephens Trophy Series for Performance Cruising and Racing.