Sail Port Stephens 2013 Commodores Cup - Location, location, location. It’s no accident that the fastest growing sailing regattas in Australia are based in popular family tourism destinations.
Kerinda - Sail Port Stephens 2013 - Commodores Cup
So running an autumn regatta, two hours north of Sydney, based on Port Stephens, a popular tourist mecca, with a large protected bay, no commercial traffic, with interesting and close offshore islands, during the school holidays - that is definitely a winning formula.
And so we arrive at day one of the sixth annual Sail Port Stephens, a school holiday Monday morning and the marina precinct is thronging with families.
Some 40 boats laden with families in many cases from grandparents to grandchildren congregate just off the d'Albora Marina rock wall in Nelson Bay. The scheduled race was the long Three Islands race, but the wind gods are on holidays too this fine morning. So there is nothing for it but to let the kids jump in the water, while grandpa´s snooze on the foredeck.
Quest - Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week 2013, Day 1
Patience was rewarded when the breeze came in, a steady eight knots, with sunshine and a course to Nelson Head back to Middle Ground and around again, provided a glorious spinnaker spectacle.
As expected Margaret Rintoul V led the fleet and by mid-afternoon the fleet was sailing in a postcard. And a surprise line honours winner was Toy Story, Tom Woods, Lake Macquarie Yacht Club Farr 36 OD.
Ashore the sailors were smiling. Tom Woods most of all. 'We got a great start and worked hard to sail in the pressure. Not every day you beat the big boys, so we enjoyed today a great deal.
Division Two line honours winner was Len Payne's Lidgard 10.6 Kerinda from Nundle (south of Tamworth). ‘A lovely sail today. Last year was our first Sail Port Stephens, we've enjoyed plenty of regattas in Queensland over the years but the logistics are much simpler and cheaper coming to this regatta, so we are back again. There are some lovely courses, but much more convenient and every bit as good and we really enjoy it.’
Tow Truck - Sail Port Stephens 2013 - Commodores Cup
Anthony Paterson, from Newcastle, a serious Sydney to Hobart racing campaigner, is sailing in the Commodores Cup with lots of family aboard the Beneteau 34.7 Tow Truck. 'For us the Commodores Cup is a fun, relaxing time on the water with the kids and their grandparents, then we have a change of crew for the New South Wales IRC regatta on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The whole thing is just so easy for us and for people from Sydney because it is not a big journey to get the boats here or a big journey to get the boats back and everything is here. It is a great regatta, not to be missed.'
Well back in the fleet but grinning hugely was Peter Lewis Lu Lu Belle, Jeanne au Sun Odyssey 37 from Middle Harbour Yacht Club, 'You can see why we were first to enter again, as we were last year. Sail Port Stephens for us the event of the calendar. It is our finish for the sailing year and the regatta organisers do a great job. We love coming up. Very friendly. Very good fun. We have lots of family rotating through the boat across the week and we have an old school mate coming from Brisbane and another flying in from New Zealand.'
Paul O´Rouke, the Regatta Chairman summed up. ‘The fleet was sailing in a postcard this afternoon with a lot of holiday makers coming down to watch the action.’
More news, photos, results and information at www.sailportstephens.com.au
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Darrell Barnett CMM General Manager Soldiers Point Marina, Michaela Backes Pantaenius Sail and Motor Yacht Insurance and Carmen Holden Guest Services Manager Soldiers Point Marina - 2015 Inaugural Port Stephens Family Fishing Competition