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Sail Port Stephens set for light-air opening

by Mark Rothfield 14 Apr 02:16 PDT 15-20 April 2024
Newcastle Port Stephens race harbour start © Promocean Media

The record fleet assembled for Sail Port Stephens 2024 looks set to have an easy, if not breezy, start to the regatta, starting Monday April 15 and running through to April 20.

Light winds and more light winds are predicted for the opening days, before the southerly builds to a fitting crescendo towards the end of the week. With it, the sunshine will make way for a few showers.

Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson has 15 inshore and offshore courses at his disposal and is confident of seeing some close racing between the five evenly matched divisions.

"The Bureau is showing winds of six to eight knots for the first two days, and we might see that build to around 12 knots on Wednesday and 20 knots or more from Thursday," Thompson said. "That means the lighter air boats will do better in the early part of the week, then the heavy air boats will get their chance later, so I'm looking forward to that.

"The southerly direction isn't ideal for the inshore courses because the Bay is quite narrow, but we can send them down to Salamander Bay where it opens up. I'm also hoping to get the fleet offshore for at least two of the five races, so Tuesday and Wednesday potentially."

Today's feeder race from Newcastle Harbour, conducted by the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, had an in-harbour start and made reasonable pace across Stockton Bight as the seabreeze filled in. The Making Waves Foundation's Sayer 45 Joy was a surprise leader as they passed Nobbys Heads, with Rob Dawes's MC38 Hooliganz next of the pursuing pack.

Hooliganz soon hit the front and was never headed, finishing in just under four hours to edge out the TP52 Frantic (Mick Martin). PHS results went to Lake Macquarie's Tow Truck, followed by the GP42 Dirty Deeds from Newcastle and Pittwater-based XP44 XS Moment, while Dirty Deeds claimed IRC and XS Moment the ORC honours.

Racing in Sail Port Stephens, now Australia's second largest regatta, starts at 10.55am off the Nelson Bay breakwall.

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