Sail Port Stephens 2019
The 12th annual Sail Port Stephens regatta, proudly sponsored once again by Pantaenius Sail and Motor Yacht Insurance, promises an unforgettable sailing holiday experience for everything from IRC, Super 12 and Farr 40 yachts to cruising boats, sports boats, 16-Foot skiffs and junior dinghies.
Dates are 8-14 April, with the iconic Bannisters Port Stephens Commodores Cup held over the first three days, followed by a lay-day to allow crews to enjoy the region’s many attractions. Racing then heats up for the final three days, both inshore and off, with the Pantaenius Port Stephens Trophy.
Jewel in the crown is the Garmin NSW IRC Championship, which attracts one of the largest and most competitive fleets on the domestic IRC scene. The Super 12 division, for PHRF-rated boats between 9.1 and 12.2 metres, also conducts its State titles in conjunction with Sail Port Stephens.
By popular demand, the Australian Sports Boat Association (ASBA) is returning to Sail Port Stephens for an unprecedented third consecutive year to stage its 2019 national titles. And joining them for the first time is the VX One class for its NSW championship.
The 2019 event will welcome the Farr 40 One Design fleet, while invitations have been issued to 16-Foot skiff and junior dinghy classes to sail during the main regatta, not as satellite events.
Following consultation with competitors, there are new divisions including a Cruising Non-Spinnaker Class for the Commodores Cup and a TP52 Class under the IRC banner. That means more prizes up for grabs and an easier task for the handicapping committee.
Around six TP52s are expected, including Marcus Blackmore’s Botin-designed Hooligan that will defend its NSW crown.
“When you look at the sailing calendar, this is one of the outstanding regattas for IRC boats in Australia,” Blackmore says. “I love coming here because it has great sailing and a real holiday atmosphere, while my wife gets to play golf while I go off sailing.”
The social calendar is equally packed, commencing with a Monday welcome party hosted by Wild Oats Wines. The Commodores Cup presentation night, traditionally a sell-out, has a beach-themed ball and will be held at Nelson Bay Golf Club.
The much-loved Pantaenius Party will be held after sailing on Friday at d’Albora Marina’s Broughtons at the Bay function centre, which becomes regatta headquarters.
Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson is hoping for a repeat of last year’s ‘endless summer’ weather, when temperatures hovered above 30 degrees and breezes mostly stayed light to moderate, bringing the popular offshore courses into play and keeping incidents to a minimum.
“Generally the racing is quite laid back, although in the high-performance classes it can be as willing as you’ll find anywhere. Fortunately, we’ve got a high-powered jury to sort out any rules issues,” Thompson said.
“It’s also a versatile sailing area, with some interesting courses inside the bay and beautiful islands near the Heads to sail around. And what I think is the best race course in Australia lies just to the north of Cabbage Tree Island in Providence Bay. It’s perfect sailing and we have some great races out there.”
Pantaenius is increasing its support for the event, providing Skipper bags, prizes and bringing Sailor Girl Nic Douglass to provide some fantastic coverage.