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Sail Port Stephens – Sailing in an East Coast Low

by Sail Port Stephens Media on 20 Apr 2013
NSW IRC Championships, 2013 Sail Port Stephens day 5 racing. Sail Port Stephens is hosted by Corlette Point Sailing Club. Jon Reid Saltwater Images http://www.saltwaterimages.com.au
How many sailing venues can have four good courses for IRC Racing, Performance Racing, Sports Boats and Cruising fleets smack in the middle of an Australian East Coast Low (a severe low pressure system), when there is an offshore Gale warning, four to six metre sea and swell sets on the regular offshore race course just a few nautical miles away.

The answer is Port Stephens – a unique venue with large expanses of sheltered water, with lots of bays, absence of commercial traffic. This means Sail Port Stephens continues uninterrupted when the offshore courses were unsailable for the second day in a row.

Today Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson was running the IRC NSW titles course. He told the story from a race officers perspective ‘The first windward leeward was sailed in a south wester with gusts up to 25 knots and right at the end of the race a little southerly came in. We started another in the new breeze but there was a 50 degree shift so I abandoned that race, brought them back and we waited around for the breeze to fill in which it did.

And in the racing … Anthony Dunns light displacement Reichel Pugh 42 HH Equinox II won race 3. It has enjoyed the strong conditions and is leading the series from Sam Haynes Roger 46 Celestial, sailed as Pirelli

Louis and Mark Ryckmann’s Yeah Baby won race 4 from Celestial, Bob Cox´s Nine Dragons and Equinox.

Dunn says the conditions have been perfect for his boat, the wind angles have allowed Equinox to sail hot with her asymmetric spinnakers. Certainly Haynes bigger boat has also enjoyed the strong conditions and clear air at the front of the fleet.

In third place is Ray Roberts new MATS1245 Obsession, the Mark Mills designed 40 footer is showing potential and she will enjoy lighter conditions that one would normally see in these events.

Obsession tactician Jamie McPhail was smiling after racing today. ‘ These little boats have a good racing record, we just have to learn how to sail it and we need a better tactician, today ours put us twice on the wrong side of significant shifts.´

It will be interesting to see what will happen if winds are light as forecast tomorrow.



The Elliott 7 Australian Championship - Race Officer Ted Anderson moved the fleet from the exposed western side of Soldiers Point into the sheltered southern part of Salamander Bay.

‘We ended up near The Anchorage. The sailors were starting to get pretty cold and we had some serious rain and some serious wind. But the sport boat sailors were great, even in those adverse conditions, they all kept sailing past saying keep trying, keep trying, which we did. They are the happiest bunch of sailors I have had anything to do with.’

After the delayed start Andrew Barney (Barney Army) won the first race by hardly more than a boat length from series leader Matt Owen (In Spades) with the defending champion Aaron Terrey (Selden P Plater) third.

In the second Owen broke away from former Australian Champion Mike Green with Evergreen and Jim Walsh´s Woof.
Anderson continued ‘The third race we went AP with about five seconds to go because we just had a big right hander. We would have had to move then, but we´d run out of time. But the sailors appreciated our efforts. ‘

Overall in the Elliot 7´s five time National Champion Matt Owen has cleared out. Second is Andrew Barney and Mike Green’s Evergreen with last year’s champion Aaron Terrey with Selden P Plater in fourth place. Owen is unlikely to be caught but the other podium places are certainly still in contention.

Conditions were strong for the Performance Racing fleet as Race Officer Greg Sinclair reported.

‘We had some heavy stuff as the squalls came through. I saw 28 knots in the first race and before the start of the third race we would have seen 25 + and then it got down to probably five knots.

‘We ran two races from a start line in the channel near The Anchorage. We had a true first race and then the second race on the second run there was a big shift. We had to move the course half a mile and then half way through the race the breeze went 25 left but it swung back the same amount.

'Plenty of wind, but in flat water the big breezes are much easier for the yachts to handle. There was very little damage, except Colortile blew a spinnaker right at the finish line of race 3 and now they have three years supply of hankies. '

And to the racing. In the third race in the series Performance Racing Division 1 Corinne and Rob Francis Sydney 41 the Banshee took the handicap result from John McNamara´s Farr 40 IRC IOTA and Tony Lobb’s Farr 40 PT73.

In the fourth race Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club’s Barry Kelly sailed his Archambault M34 Concealed Weapon to handicap victory ahead of Tom Wood´s Farr 36 Toy Story and IOTA.



Overall the results are close with The Banshee two points ahead of Concealed Weapon with Matt Allen´s Farr 400 another point back.

In the third race in Performance Racing Division 2 Vaughan Stephens Beneteau First 40.7 Novocaine won from Phil King´s Yes, a Beneteau 42s7 with Roy Leslie´s Elan 37 Koko third. In the fourth race for the same fleet, Kym Butler´s One for the Road an Archambault 40 , took the handicap win from Glenn Bulmer´s She’s the Culprit and Jack Goluzd´s Bling.

Overall in Performance Racing Division 2,the Nelson Marek OD35 Bling leads two Sydney 38´s the Warneford/Jamie Thirlmere and Peter Edwards Preddytor.

At 12 noon in heavy rain the Performance Cruising fleet headed towards the Bay entrance, rounding Nelson Head and sailing to the Middle Ground Beacon and the South Channel mark brought a little into the Bay because of the rolling waves coming in between the Heads. The breeze held for their race up the foreshore back up to the West mark and return.

In the Performance Cruising Division 1 Chris Rabbidge´s Nelson Marek 43 Quest, won on handicap from Dennis Coopers Sydney 36 Amante and Matt Bonser´s Watch Me. Overall Bonser from the Port Stephens Yacht Club leads going into the final day from Quest and Dean Gillie’s Firefly.

In Cruising Division 2, Peter Lewis and his Lu Lu Belle crew including Wilson, the Volley Ball won today’s race from David Edmiston´s Passion and Kevin Le Poidevin´s Rogue Wave. Leading the series with just one race to go Passion is ahead of Lu Lu Belle and Rogue Wave.

While the torrential rain and heavy winds have continued into the evening, conditions are expected to ease for the final day of racing at Sail Port Stephens tomorrow.

Full results, news and photos at www.sailportstephens.com.au

Media seeking high resolution images for editorial use should register on the event site.

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