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SailFest spectators to be cock-a-hoop about Harbour action

by Mark Rothfield 13 Apr 2023 19:29 PDT 15-16 April 2023
2023 Newcastle SailFest Regatta - Sailing Champions matchracing © Mark Rothfield

This weekend's 2023 Newcastle SailFest regatta will rekindle the city's proud maritime tradition and salty sailing history, with action aplenty on the harbour and off the beaches.

A carnival atmosphere prevailed during the first Newcastle Regatta in 1845, as sightseers lined wharves and the waterway thronged with clouds of white sails. Now, race organisers from the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (NCYC) are hoping for similar levels of passion and interest.

The harbour itself presents a perfect amphitheatre, with action spreading from Honeysuckle and Stockton to the heads and beyond.

Two pinnacle events are set to be held inshore, while the TP52 and offshore fleet head to sea. One is the NSW Sailing League match-racing finals using NCYC's fleet of Elliott 6 sports boats. From this event, the top four teams will directly qualify for the Sailing Champions League Asia Pacific finals in May 2023.

Over on the Stockton shoreline, meanwhile, Port Hunter 16ft Sailing Skiff Club will host the mixed-fleet Cock of the Harbour race (named after the expression 'cock-a-hoop'). It's one of the oldest trophies in Australian sailing, harking back to the era of sail-powered workboats.

The starting siren for the Cock of the Harbour race will sound at 2pm tomorrow. The fleet of catamarans, skiffs and dinghies will then sail a loop around both sides of the waterways, providing fantastic spectator opportunities.

Further viewing opportunities will be available closer to Queens Wharf where the TP52 yachts and Offshore Series competitors will commence their respective passage races. The pre-race countdown signal is scheduled to sound at 11.55 tomorrow.

Spectators right along both breakwalls will have a front-row seat as these high-speed thoroughbreds streak out of the harbour. There will also be excellent viewing, especially with binoculars, from elevated vantage points such as Fort Scratchley and Strzelecki Lookout.

Meanwhile, the best way to see if your kids enjoy sailing is to attend NCYC's TrySailing sessions during SailFest Newcastle. The wind is free and so is this experience, which is suitable for children aged seven to 12

Qualified instructors will be based at the Honeysuckle piers from 9am-12pm on both April 15 and 16. Pre-booking isn't required because a numbering system will operate if necessary. The on-water experience will run for about 15 minutes.

It's advisable to wear swimmers, boardshorts, a rash-shirt and beach shoes, along with hat and sunscreen. A lifejacket will be supplied.

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

For more information visit event website: sailfest.com.au.

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