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Windcraft joins bumper fleet for 2022 Sail Port Stephens

by Windcraft 29 Mar 00:55 PDT 4-10 April 2022
Alliance - Sail Port Stephens © Windcraft

Leading importer Windcraft Yachts will have a strong contingent of Hanse and Dehler yachts in the biggest fleet so far at the Sail Port Stephens regatta from 4-10 April.

A dozen models from the two highly regarded German brands will be mixing it among the 119 competitors entered in the Bannisters Port Stephens Commodores Cup series on the opening three days of what is shaping as one of the headline sailing events in Australia for 2022.

Along with a truly eclectic assortment of cruiser/racers in the Commodores Cup, the superb yachting venue of Port Stephens will be hosting sports boats and dinghy classes, bringing the total number of boats out on the water to around 200.

Guaranteed to generate a lot of interest among fellow sailors will be Alliance, a Dehler 30 od, owned by Sydney yachtsman Ben Thompson. Ben bought the award-winning one design racing machine (with welcome creature comforts), 18 months ago, but due to the pandemic he hasn't been able to fully enjoy the 30 od's solid offshore pedigree.

"The boat is probably a more sophisticated than the crew," he suggests. "We're still on a steep learning curve, what we're looking forward to at Port Stephens is a mix of offshore and inshore (courses)".

Alliance with a couple of Ben's fellow Laser mates joining as crew is entered in the Newcastle to Port Stephens race on Sunday 3 April. The forecast of a strong southerly and big swells for the 22-nautical mile coastal dash could provide Alliance's crew with some "exciting" moments.

"We'll be happy if we get to experience the boat in the conditions it's best suited to", he says, adding the 30od has shown glimpses of its speed, cracking 20 knots on a recent run-down Sydney Harbour.

Also among the impressive Windcraft stable will be Sail la Vie, a Hanse 315, owned by Pittwater local Carole Walker. The most compact offering from Hanse, the 315 though feels like a larger boat and will be up against mainly bigger rivals in the Cruising Non-Spinnaker division which has attracted a healthy 17 entries. As Sail la Vie is a fairly recent purchase Carole is looking forward to making-up for sailing days lost during the long stints of Covid restrictions.

"I haven't had much chance to sail her so I thought it would be an opportunity to meet other Hanse owners and see if anyone would like to come sailing," she explains.

I've been racing for a long time as a crew member on Sydney Harbour and I'm a bit over it. I want to embrace a more relaxed approach and enjoying your time on the water."

In fact, Carole's crew for the Sail Port Stephens will be a former skipper of hers and the 315 will be easily handled by the pair thanks to features such as the self-tacking jib. A very serious back injury a decade ago also means the 315's simple layout and lines within Carole's reach makes it the ideal boat for her.

"The day I got out of hospital my from last operation 12 months ago I went sailing, "she reveals. "I still wear a back brace, but I can still sail my boat on my own," Carole says matter-of-factly.

Further up the scale of the Hanse range is Travelling Light, a Hanse 458, making a second appearance at Sail Port Stephens. Owner Ron Winestock enjoyed his debut regatta experience so much he decided on a flurry of upgrades to ensure the big cruiser-racer was more competitive in the wide range of conditions the week often encompasses.

"It became a little frustrating as we set our asymmetrical spinnaker and watched lots of other boats blow by us with their symmetrical rig," he recalled.

"I've upped the ante this year and added a symmetrical spinnaker to my sail locker. I'm looking forward to seeing how we go with the extra firepower, and I've still got the assy in the back pocket if we need it," he says.

"But most of all I'm looking forward to transforming from a cruiser to a racer for a week," Ron confesses. "It's also enjoying the fun and the challenge and learning more about sailing. I've got my crew back together and we are raring to go," he concludes.

Windcraft team members will be joining Travelling Light and several other Hanse's and Dehler's out on the racecourse to assist owners and their crews. There will also be plenty of dockside bonhomie with several planned Windcraft social events including drinks after the first day of racing on Monday 4th April, and a dinner the following night.

Windcraft Yachts Managing Director, Anthony Bishop says Sail Port Stephens will be a major event on the company's calendar, featuring one of the biggest turnouts of Hanse and Dehler owners in the event's history. "After such an extended absence from all aspects of sailing we are really looking forward to getting out on the water with our owners and enjoying everything Sail Port Stephens has to offer," he says.

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