The IRC fleet were contesting windward leewards on the final day of competition for the 2012 NSW IRC Championships.
After a clean start, in 12 knots of breeze and in a moderate seaway Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki led the Division 1 competitors to the top mark. Marcus Blackmore’s TP52 Hooligan the 2011 IRC National Champion was next, followed by Bob Steel’s Quest.
Jason Van Der Slot’s Calm was a length further back, with Sam Hayne’s Celestial and Louis Ryckman’s Accenture Yeah Baby chasing hard.
Calm sailed away from Quest and as they approached the finish line she had almost caught up to her rival. In the end she fell short by just 50 metres.
Loki again took Division 1 line honours from Hooligan, Calm and Quest. On handicap it was Hooligan, Quest and Calm.
'Loki" during the NSW IRC Championships at the 2012 Sail Port Stephens Regatta hosted by Corlette Point Sailing Club Day 7. Picture by Matt King Sail Port Stephens Media Event
Division 2 line honours went to Garry Holt’s Exile. The handicap winner was Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victorie from Exile and Wizzard (Mick Hinchley).
Peter Sorensen’s The Philosopher’s Club took line honours and the handicap win in Division 3. Rob Howard’s Schouten Passage was second, with Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose third.
As the fleet went into sequence for the second race the breeze dropped to around seven knots.
Quest was on the pin in Division 1. At the Division 2 start Last Tango was forced below the pin and had to go round. Roger Hickman's Wild Rose started on the pin in Division 3 and won that start.
Loki continued to lead in the softening breeze and cross swell.
Race 6 Division 1 line honours again went to Loki. The handicap win went to Hooligan, this time from Loki with Calm third.
Line honours in Division 2 went to Tulip. Last Tango (Adam Brown) took the race on handicap from Victoire and Thirlemere (S Warneford/L Jamie).
L’Altra Donna took line honours in Division 3. Wild Rose took the handicap from Jason Antill’s Even Finer with L’Altra Donna third.
Overall, the Division 1 IRC champion is Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan. Bob Steel’s Quest finished second with Rob Van der Slot’s Calm third.
IRC Division 2 champion is Garry Holt’s Exile. Bernie van T’ Hof’s Tulip was second on count back from Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire.
Andy Kearnan’s L’Altra Donna is the Division 3 IRC Champion. Peter Sorensen’s The Philosopher’s Club was second with Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose third.
Dockside Marcus Blackmore said ‘We are very pleased to have defended our 2011 NSW IRC Championship here at Port Stephens. Hooligan is optimised for 15 knots of breeze, we had that here last year but this year it was much lighter so we struggled a little.
‘This event is for us a key part of our Hamilton Island Race Week preparation.
‘We have a great crew. And we’ve beefed it up again now we have Don Cowie. He was a key player when this boat was the winning Emirates Team New Zealand TP52 and he is working closely with Richie Allanson from North Sails Australia, so we are certainly getting our sail program sorted.
‘The guys all had fun with Mark ‘Ricko’ Richards on the boat yesterday - a bunch of Pittwater boys together.
‘I can’t say enough good things about this event - great sailing waters, superb race management and great event management overall.
‘Sail Port Stephens is at a convenient time of the year and so close to Sydney.’
Peter Sorensen, The Philosopher’s Club said ‘Very pleased to have snatched a second overall. The first race this morning suited us, and looking back I guess our consistency was rewarded.
‘I’d like to say a special thanks to Denis Thompson and his team - great on water management as always.’
At the scheduled start time this morning, in Nelson Bay the Performance Racing and Cruising fleets faced a delay waiting for that offshore breeze to arrive.
RO Greg Sinclair announced a change of course to the waiting fleets and soon after the AP was lowered.
All divisions were well behaved, with only one individual recall. They sailed towards Nelson Head in light breeze and sunshine.
After rounding the mark spinnakers appeared as the fleet headed to the bottom mark, a colourful site for the spectators dotted along the rock wall.
Performance and Cruising fleets. Sail Port Stephens 2012 day 7
The breeze strength varied throughout the race. Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban parked and watched as the fleet caught her up however the breeze filled in again allowing the shortened race to be completed.
Line honours in Performance Racing Division 1 went to Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban from Concealed Weapon (Barry Kelley) and PT73 (Tony Lobb). The Handicap winner was Concealed Weapon from Alibi (Barry Jackson) and Breezin (Brad Sewell).
Division 2 line honours winner was Matthew Brown’s Orbit. Brett Van Munster’s Rapid Transit took the handicap win from Kaizen (Geoff Rose) and Esprit (Greg Wilkins).
The Sail Port Stephens 2012 Performance Racing Division 1 champion is Brad Sewell’s Breezin. Long Time Dead (Matthew Fensom) finished second with Iota (John McNamara) third.
Crew of 'Breezin' at the 2012 Sail Port Stephens Regatta hosted by Corlette Point Sailing Club Day 7. Picture by Matt King Sail Port Stephens Media Event
The Performance Racing Division 2 champion is Matthew Brown’s Orbit from Kaizen (Geoff Rose) and Rapid Transit (Brett van Munster).
Brad van Munster sails Rapid Transit, the GP26 from Lake Macquarie. ‘We are pleased to come away with third overall. The GP26 is a fun boat to sail, definitely at its fastest in 12-18 knots. Our best race was this morning when we got some pressure.
‘This a great event and we love coming here.’
Race 3 of the series for the Performance Cruising Division 1 fleet was won by Peter Byford’s Joie De Vie, taking both the line honours and the handicap win. On handicap Greg Newton’s Antipodes was second with Jim Thomas’ Dances With Waves third.
Cruising Division 2 line honours went to Dean Gillies Firefly. Ross Kelly’s the Good Life 11 took the handicap win from Firefly and Koko (Roy Leslie).
Overall Bruce Ritchie’s Union became the 2012 Division 1 champion, from Euphoria (Anthony Coleman) and Secret Men’s Business 1 (Robert Curtis).
The Overall Division 2 winner was Firefly from Rampage (Phillip Owens) with Zora 1 (Phillip King) third.
In Salamander Bay, the Elliott 7 class faced the final day of competition in their 2012 Australian Championship.
Unfortunately, despite the race committee’s best efforts, the wind did not play ball and no races were completed.
Selden Deck Hardware, skippered by Aaron Terrey is the new Elliott 7 Australian Champion.
Unbeaten throughout the series Terrey was smiling broadly. ‘Great to have won the championship with six wins out of six.
‘Port Stephens is a great venue for sports boat racing.’
Sail Port Stephens Regatta Director Paul O’Rourke commented ‘A record 165 entries this year.
‘There was not nearly as much breeze as we would have liked or have had in the in past, so on averages next year will be much better.
‘We have already started planning for 2013 and we will be welcoming feedback.
‘Certainly the Junior Regatta proved to be a great success and that will clearly be a growth area in this family oriented regatta.’
Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson commented ‘It was a hard, hard week in Paradise.
‘The trough just on the coast delivered heavy rain which killed the breeze, so that presented lots of issues. Then the sun came out but conditions stayed very light.
‘However, on all courses we had very patient race officers and we worked hard to provide fair racing.
‘This is a wonderful location, very tricky with the tides and sandbanks inside and swells and waves offshore. So as always the best sailors do best.
‘Overall, high performance racing in beautiful Port Stephens and this event will just keep growing.’
Spinnakers. Performance Racing fleet on Sail Port Stephens 2012 day 7
For more information, news, pictures and information please visit the Sail Port Stephens 2012 website - www.sailportstephens.com.au