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Newcastle steeling itself for SailFest TP52 showdown

by Mark Rothfield 13 Apr 2023 04:44 PDT 15-16 April 2023
NCYC SailFest © Salty Dingo

Newcastle's working harbour will doff its hard hat to the sight of vibrant spinnakers and eager crews as the fourth SailFest Newcastle Regatta is staged this weekend, bringing a flotilla of grand prix yachts and fleet-footed performance craft to the region.

The headline attraction is the City of Newcastle TP52 Gold Cup, with 10 starters for Act 2 of the season's four-part overall championship. It's the largest gathering of these high-performance racers in Australia this year, before the fleet transitions to Sail Port Stephens in early May.

Among the pre-race favourites is Geoff Boettcher's Secret Mens Business, fresh from taking out the recent Lincoln Week Regatta and Australian Yachting Championship crown. Returning are Gweilo (Matt Donald), Matador (David Doherty), Smuggler (Sebastian Bohm), Quest (Craig Neil) and Zen (Gordon Ketelby), while Peter White's First Light, Mark Spring's Highly Sprung and Damien Parkes's Denali will make their first visit.

Local entry Frantic (Michael Martin) is also lining up.

In a recent media release regarding SailFest, the class stated: "We all know how good this regatta is. Great racing, plenty of nice accommodation and restaurants within walking distance of club. Fantastic berthing all together outside the club, with dock drinks and nibbles Saturday after racing."

Last year's Gold Cup went down to the wire, with a start-line collision resulting in Ichi Ban being disqualified from the fourth and deciding race. It tipped the three-time Rolex Sydney Hobart winner out of first place overall, Gweilo claiming victory and Smuggler moving up to second.

The 2023 Transport for NSW Offshore Series has 16 entries, including Darryl Hodgkinson's Carkeek 40 Victoire. Lake Macquarie Farr 31 Sofarr is the early IRC favourite for Division 1.

Next year's SailFest will coincide with the Australian Yachting Championships, 10 years after Newcastle last hosted the national series. As such, 2023 will be viewed by visiting crews as a chance to gain local knowledge of Stockton Bight and the renowned waters off Newcastle's beaches.

Newcastle Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz said that City of Newcastle was pleased to be a long-standing supporter of this world-class event.

"As the precursor for the prestigious Australian Championships, SailFest Newcastle Regatta attracts the cream of Australia's sailing community including the reigning national champions and their yacht Secret Men's Business, which has been trucked in all the way from Adelaide to take part in a hotly-contested weekend of competition," Cr Winney-Baartz said.

"Showing off our world-class sailing waters and spectacular working harbour, SailFest enhances our reputation as an events city while also providing an invaluable opportunity to showcase Newcastle's broader attractions to participants and visitors. It will deliver a welcome economic boost for local businesses who benefit from the additional sailors and support crew who travel to Newcastle for the weekend."

The 2023 SailFest Newcastle Regatta is supported by the City of Newcastle and Transport for NSW.

More information at event website: sailfest.com.au

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