A morning drifter delaying the race starts both inshore and offshore graduated to a gloriously warm light air afternoon for the first-ever Sail Port Stephens’ Broughton Island Passage Race.
IRC division 1 contested the full 31 nautical mile course and the other divisions a shorter version in 10 knot average nor’easterlies. Once again Matt Allen’s TP52 Ichi Ban prevailed in division 1, finishing less than two minutes ahead of Sam Haynes’ JV TP52 Celestial on corrected time and setting up a significant pointscore advantage in the Pantaenius NSW IRC Championship.
Peter Sorensen and his Sydney 36cr, The Philosophers Club, is the inaugural winner of the HMRI Cup for first home in any division contesting the passage race, and today’s IRC division 3 race winner by more than five minutes. The Cup is a new addition to the trophy list, its inception a result of the recent passing of yachting great Roger Hickman from a brain tumour and subsequent link between the regatta he long championed, Sail Port Stephens, and the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI).
“Roger and I were old mates, and rivals; I’m really pleased about winning the trophy though Port Stephens isn’t the same this year without him,” Sorensen said when advised he would be presented with the HMRI Cup as part of a crazy shirt fundraiser and auction for brain cancer research tonight, Saturday April 16.
Sorensen’s Middle Harbour crew sailed smart, hit the lay-lines precisely and stayed out of the current. “Yesterday wasn’t good by our standards but today was terrific, I loved the course,” the delighted skipper added.
In the series results they have more work to do to catch Rob and Jan Howard’s Beneteau 40.7 Schouten Passage making their sixth attempt on the IRC state title win at Sail Port Stephens. Sailing with a part family crew, some former ‘Tow Truckers’ and Newcastle Etchells sailors, skipper Will Howard said: “We go into tomorrow with a two point lead and we’ll be looking for a fresher southerly, which will suit our boat. All the races have been close with multiple winners.”
“It was the first time we’ve done a passage race for the IRC championship, the fact it was an event dedicated to ‘Hicko’ made it an important race,” said race officer Denis Thompson. “It turned out to be a great race course, thanks to the wind angle, tactical, and 80 or so boats coming to the finish under spinnaker was the perfect finish.”
Performance Racing division 1 series scores have Barry Jackson’s Beneteau 40 Alibi in first place, and in division 1 of Performance Cruising, L’Attitude leads She’s the One. Dennis Cooper’s Amante is the Performance Cruising division 2 clubhouse leader with one race remaining.
222 Offshore Racing and Hunter Parking and Storage supported today’s Broughton Race and Sailebration Evening.
MC38s and sports boats thanks to Newcastle Airport
Four MC38s joined the fray today, racing inshore on Salamander Bay, and Howard Spencer’s Kiwi campaign on Menace is off to a promising start. Their 1,2,1 results, a boat of the day performance, means they lead Leslie Green’s Ginger by four points. The current Australian class champion, Ginger, rests on equal points with the third placed Dark Star after a protest disqualified Ginger from race three.
In the closely fought Sports Boat division a mere three points divides the small fleet. Local yachtie Matt Bonser and his Melges 24 Watch Me are the new frontrunners and James Dwyer’s Elliott 7 Emma Peel is second overall.
Sunday is the final day of racing at the ninth edition of Sail Port Stephens. The IRC fleets revert to windward/leewards offshore and the Performance fleets will be sent on another passage race. Sports boats and MC38s will complete their windward/leeward series in Salamander Bay.
South-westerly winds 10-15 knots early in the morning are likely to tend southerly 15-20 knots in the morning, setting up heavier conditions for the close of competition.
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.
By Lisa Ratcliff, Sail Port Stephens Media | PHOTOS: Saltwater Images