The fastest growing regatta in Australia, Sail Port Stephens is obviously a regatta whose time has come and this year's edition certainly played to rave reviews.
Closing on the mark - in company. NSW IRC Championship. Sail Port Stephens 2011
Here’s what some of the best known sailors around Australia said.
Roger Hickman, the past President of Yachting NSW and veteran of hundreds of races and regattas around the world obviously enjoyed his fourth Sail Port Stephens. His Farr 43 Wild Rose won the Sydney to Newcastle feeder race and finished second overall in IRC Division 2.
'Hicko’ is certainly enthusiastic about the event. 'I like Port Stephens. The racing is excellent and it’s a well run regatta. If the boys are having fun on the racetrack we are 90% there. Port Stephens is such a wonderful place, it’s close to Sydney, easy to get to and the ambience is really nice. It’s perfect.
'On the water, I think a lot of credit goes to the organisers for getting Denis Thompson to run the on water team because you don’t get any better. He is the best in the country.
'We yachties have a ball out there. We had a wonderful time. It’s just not long enough it’s got to be longer, a four day regatta for the racing fleets and if you want to do both the Commodore’s Cup and the Trophy series you still can.’
Paul Clitheroe’s Beneteau 45 Balance was the overall winner of IRC Racing Division 2. Clitheroe has been a fixture on the Australian circuit for many years now and as the high profile media 'Money Man', he appreciates value.
'Fantastic sailing. Really fair courses. Today we had 14-20 knots all day long with breeze from a relatively consistent direction; a really good tight windward/leeward course.
'Of course Balance did well because its caravan weather. I mean anything above 12 knots I can get the caravan going and with the carbon rig she really likes to bubble. Basically we just ground upwind all day and made no mistakes downwind and I think we had five out of five line honours.
'This is a great event. The reason my crew like this one is the simplicity of getting here by car. The accommodation is relatively cheap, they share a couple of apartments.
'It also has the owner of the boat smiling too. It’s pretty cheap for me to get the boat here and home again. I think it is an excellent regatta.
'It’s so close compared to Hamilton and a fraction of the cost.
'Hamilton Island for my crew is probably close to $2,500 each, whereas here the crew were telling me, including the very substantial grog bill and accommodation, it is in the hundreds of dollars so it’s affordable.
'It’s affordable for crew and affordable for owners. Happy days.
'This event will grow because the organisation and the marinas are fantastic. Facilities are really good. I think most importantly the racing is fair. You get the good race track.
'Offshore you get a bit of protection from the island in terms of really bad swell. There are few tide issues.
'It’s a great regatta and we will be back.’
Marcus Blackmore has raced quite a lot in Port Stephens with the Farr 40 Class and he is a serious campaigner with his TP52 Hooligan, a stand out leader on the Australian IRC circuit this year.
After the Sail Port Stephens presentation, where he walked away with a lot of the silverware, Marcus said ‘We just love coming here. I think it presents as a fantastic place for a regatta.
'We had perfect weather for us this year, this regatta suited Hooligan perfectly. Most of it was done at 15 knots and it’s the perfect number for us because the boat was designed at 15 and 16 knots.
'Roger ‘Clouds’ Badham told us what he thought was going to be the average wind speed for the four events which makeup the Australian IRC Championships, and winning that championship is the goal we set ourselves for this year.
'The keel, the weight of it, the type of keel, whether it was a hollow keel; all that was taken into consideration when we ran the numbers.
‘When Hooligan gets into light air we are not as quick. We are back in the fleet and that's what happened in the Sydney Harbour regatta. We won the regatta but only just. It’s a different game (in light airs).
'But back to Port Stephens. I think it is a special place to come just to get out of Sydney for a change and it is not that far.
'It’s a great atmosphere, good little restaurants around the town. It’s easy to get the boat here, good for crews and families.
'This regatta is going to grow and grow across all the divisions. It’s a good regatta for the racing classes and very much so for the cruising fleets. We look forward to seeing many more boats here next year and more in years to come.
'Next year you will want to get your entry in early because I think marina space will still be limited after that as more marina berths come on line, this is going to become a very major event on the Australian circuit.
'If you’re a Sydney owner this is a must do event!'
More images from 2011 event can be found on the event website and there will be more again in days to come.