Please select your home edition
Edition
North Sails on UK Got Tough

Sail Port Stephens - Splash of cash buoys Port economy

by Mark Rothfield on 24 Apr 2013
2013 Sail Port Stephens Craig Greenhill Saltwater Images - SailPortStephens http://www.saltwaterimages.com.au
At any yacht club on twilight racing night, there’s a throng of eligible lads and gorgeous ladies draped on each other’s arm, talking tacking duels and share trends until finally they get married, buy a house, have two kids and get a yacht of their own.

At this point in their lives they will go to Sail Port Stephens. That’s the loose theory, anyway, and it’s borne out by hard statistics showing that the sailing regatta, now in its seventh year, brings a substantial injection of visitors and tourism income to the NSW coastal township, just as winter is set to descend.


Over three days of racing from April 19 to 21, there were more than 120 boats locked in combat, and in the preceding days around 40 of these contested the Commodore’s Cup. Each yacht had a minimum of four, some as many as 12, crewmen and crew-women aboard – averaging around 600 sailors on the water at any given time.

For every person who sails, chances are they will be accompanied by friends and family members who don’t – in the case of the larger yachts it’s potentially 50 to 60 people, akin to bringing a small conference to town for a week.

On the event periphery will be sailing industry representatives, race committee folk and media crews, all needing to be accommodated, transported, fed and watered.

Spend-per-visitor figures are sketchy but government estimates suggest it is $131 per person for overnight trips and $104 for day trips, which quickly surpasses $200,000 for every day of Sail Port Stephen. And since BOAT is supposedly an acronym for Bring Out Another Thousand, this is a demographic that spends more than average.

As the money ultimately winds up in the weekly pay cheques of staff from clubs, restaurants, food outlets and shops, it will continue to buoy the local economy.

Michael Aylmer, chair of Port Stephens Tourism, feels the community is increasingly embracing the regatta: 'As an event it has grown from next-to-nothing to one gaining recognition up and down the coast, but there’s plenty of space and a lot of places for boaties to go … drop off the wheel as it were.'


Tars Bylhouwer from Port Stephens Tourism confirms that the ripples extend well beyond the direct impact of the event itself.

'The cash injection is huge and there’s a lot of on-flow – it is setting us up as a sailing destination,' he said. 'Yachties used to say that Port Stephens had too many shallow areas but when you look at the maps the port is 2½ times the size of Sydney Harbour and the sandbanks represent a very small proportion of that. If you exclude them it’s still double the size of Sydney Harbour.


'For residents, sailing becomes a prominent sport, kids get a chance to get involved, and there are all sorts of social benefits shooting off from that. They are big ticket items we tend to focus on here because tourism is not just a dollar thing, it is part and parcel of our lives.'

The region’s marketing efforts highlight the natural attributes – beaches, waterways, marine park and national park – and the outdoor experiences than can be enjoyed therein. Sail Port Stephens is an ideal fit for both categories.

The Commodore of regatta host club Corlette Point Sailing Association, Dom Grundy, also manages the Salamander Hotel and says the April timing is perfect from a commercial perspective.


'To bring them all into town at one time is significant. The Hotel will go very close to filling up, where it doesn’t normally,' he said. 'It brings focus to the town and reminds people in Sydney we’re only two hours away if they want a weekend away.'

Not surprisingly, Port Stephens is now NSW’s number three destination for short-breaks.

Sail Port Stephens 2013 was a great success in spite of the East Coast Low, with the inshore waterways providing great racing. With the Australian IRC (Grand Prix) Championships being raced off Newcastle, the week after Sail Port Stephens another record fleet is expected and that too is more good news for the region.

upffront 660x82T Clewring - GenericZhik Yachting 660x82

Related Articles

Rio 2016 - Images of the penultimate race in the Finns - Scott wins
Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn, in what potentially could have been Giles Scott's (GBR) Gold medal winning race. In the end, the current world champion won in style.
Posted on 15 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images from the Mens RS:X Medal Race
Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell, was on the water at the Medal Race for the RS:X class Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell, was on the water at the Medal Race for the RS:X class won before the race by Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) without needing points from the Medal Race. Nick Dempsey (GBR) was second on a similar basis.
Posted on 15 Aug
Rio 2016 - Sailors talk of Life at the Extreme on the Atlantic Ocean
Certainly the Volvo Ocean Race catchcry of Life at the Extreme is not a phrase associated with the Sailing Olympics. The 470 crews were suffering the mixed emotions of survival of an extreme test by nature, the cold, and for some elation at their placings, after Thursday's battle for survival. In conditions that looked more out of the Volvo Ocean Race, than an Olympic sailing regatta, crews battled 20kt plus winds and Atlantic Ocean rollers that towered up to four metres.
Posted on 13 Aug
Rio Olympics - Fourth gallery of images the fearsome Niteroi course
Fourth image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean Fourth image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean - sailing in 3-4 metre swells and 20kt plus winds. believe it or not the sea conditions were worse inshore as the fleet encountered the backwashed Atlantic rollers
Posted on 12 Aug
Rio 2016 - Third image gallery of 470's braving the Atlantic Ocean
Third image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean Third image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean - sailing in 3-4 metre swells and 20kt plus winds
Posted on 12 Aug
Gladwell's Line - The challenges of Guanbara Bay
The decision to run Medal Racing on the Pao de Acucer course, probably won't be remembered as one of the brightest The decision to run Medal Racing on the Pao de Acucer, probably won't be remembered as one of the brightest of the 2016 Sailing Olympics. Over shadowed by a 1300ft tall granite and quartz mountain in the shape of a sugarloaf, the bay suffers from dramatic windshifts, and huge variance in wind pressure.
Posted on 11 Aug
Rio 2016 - Fresher breezes expected inside and outside on Day 3
Stronger winds are expected for the third day of racing in the 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Rio de Janeiro. Stronger winds are expected for the third day of racing in the 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Rio de Janeiro. Two of the fleet scheduled to race outside on the Atlantic Ocean course off Copacabana Beach, while the 470 Men and Women will race inside on Guananara Bay.
Posted on 10 Aug
Rio 2016 - Day 2 brings more tumult for some, salvation for others
The course area may have changed, but Brit, Nick Dempsey's performance early on stayed the same. The course area may have changed, but Brit, Nick Dempsey's performance early on stayed the same. He picked up where he left off on Day 1 in Race 4 of the Men's RS:X class on the Escola Naval race area to record his third win in four races. Poland's Piotr Myszka finished second with Brazil's Ricardo Santos third.
Posted on 10 Aug
Gladwell's Line - First impressions of Rio
An Olympic travelogue as the Sail-World NZ Editor makes his way though South America en route to Rio An Olympic travelogue as the Sail-World NZ Editor makes his way though South America en route to Rio, plus initial thoughts on the city, the Olympic organisation, the venue and its much-vaunted pollution and some initial thoughts after just one day on the water of how the racing could pan out.
Posted on 9 Aug
Gladwell's Line - Does the America's Cup really need a Star Chamber?
The first meeting of the three-man America's Cup Arbitration Panel is believed to have taken place in London The first meeting of the three-man America's Cup Arbitration Panel is believed to have taken place in London in the past week or so. Officially the date hasn't been publicly announced. The venue hasn't been publicly named, and the parties have appeared before a Panel that is publicly nameless.
Posted on 23 Jul