Port Stephens turned on a stunning autumn day and better than expected winds for the opening races of Sail Port Seasons’ second stage, called the Port Stephens Trophy, for near to 100 boats.
Fleets fanned out under separate race management teams for the spectacular passage race in building afternoon nor’easters around the three islands off the entrance to Port Stephens, IRC to the north of Cabbage Tree Island and Performance Racing and Sports Boats inshore at Salamander Bay.
It’s early days but after excelling one the flat waters in the bay today, when the Shaw 11m Little Nico gets up on the plane and boogies, Adrian Walters and his top Sydney crew have the jump on Tony Levett’s Sydney 38 TSA Management in Performance Racing division.
A 14 knot afternoon sea breeze was made to order for the sports boat division. The youngest skipper in the entire Sail Port Stephens fleet, 14 year-old Tyler Ratcliff, and the full family crew on the Viper 640 Heat lead the series by a point after three races.
A capsize in race three came about when skipper Mick Hinchey fell off his Shaw 650, so aptly called Dripping Weta. Hinchey was dragged back on board smiling, and still wearing his hat and sunglasses.
Performance Cruising passage race highlights included Greg Elliott’s self-designed Elliott 1350, Fortuna, the home away from home for the famous Kiwi yacht designer and his wife Jo collecting a third in division. The result is exceptional given they are the only boat in their division racing sans spinnaker, purely for space saving reasons.
The MC38s, including the New Zealand crew of Menace, begin their quest for valuable first points at the opening class event of a three part season championship tomorrow. Reigning Australian champion Ginger (Leslie Green), winner of the 2015 season championship Menace (Howard Spencer), and the ever-competitive Dark Star plus Clare Crawford and Assassin from Pittwater make up the one design fleet. The timetable for the MC38s is two days of four races per day.
North-east winds 10-15 knots are forecast for tomorrow, April 16, 2016.
Words: Lisa Ratcliff OCC. Photos: Saltwater Images
Sail Port Stephens is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, and Pantaenius’ major sponsorship continues for the third year.