Sail Port Stephens event to be bigger than ever

AS it approaches its 10th anniversary in 2017, organisers of Sail Port Stephens are on a mission to grow one of Australia’s best sailing festivals into one of the biggest.

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The 200-entry milestone is in sight for this year’s event, which coincides with the school holidays (NSW) from April 11-17.

The event was inspired by the legendary Hawaiian-shirted Caribbean and Mediterranean race weeks and now provides an all-inclusive blend of grand-prix yachting, cruising activities and off-the-beach sailing.

With a family-friendly focus, it extends the welcome mat to everything from Optimist dinghies to offshore multihulls and bluewater racing yachts.

AMBIENCE: Great sailing conditions at Sail Port Stephens makes it a relaxed, affordable and convenient way for sailors and their families to celebrate the official end of the racing season

Jewel in the crown is the NSW IRC Championship, held in conjunction with Yachting NSW, which attracts an all-star fleet including Hobart winner Balance (Paul Clitheroe). In 2016 a Broughton Island passage race is set to be added to the mix for the first time.

FOR EVERYONE: With a family-friendly focus, it extends the welcome mat to everything from dinghies to offshore multihulls and bluewater racing yachts.

The Port Stephens Trophy is contested under Performance Handicap and open to racing and cruising yachts, along with multihulls.

For the first three days of the week-long regatta, however, the pulse slackens as pleasure yachts come out to play for the Commodores Cup.Jeanneau yachts are appearing en masse as Pittwater dealer Lee Condell is encouraging owners to rendezvous in the series. The regatta is tailor-made for class and brand divisions, with special berthing arrangements available.

Sail Port Stephens also offers a Junior Off-the-Beach One-Sail series for competitors aged under 18 to encourage junior sailing in the area.Sailability at Grahamstown Dam is also participating under the SPS burgee this year and is keen to attract entries.

Destination-wise, Port Stephens is an easy day’s sail from the Sydney/Pittwater sailing hub and a leisurely drive/flight from the east coast capitals.It enjoys a rich variety of accommodation, entertainment and eating options, making Sail Port Stephens a relaxed, affordable and convenient way for sailors and their families to celebrate the official end of the club/class racing season.

The Saturday night party is the perfect tonic to cap off a great season before winter’s onset.“Think hard, fast and high-quality fleet racing on sparkling blue waters,” Sail Port Stephens regatta director Geoff Campbell said.

“Think end-of-season celebrations with barefeet on golden sand, barbecues and a band playing,” events manager Chloe Marshall added.

Preliminary discussions have been held with a number of classes, including the F18 catamarans, trailer sailers, sports yachts and multihulls, to further enhance the profile and prestige of the regatta.To maximise spectator viewing, a high-performance course will be allocated between d’Albora Marina breakwall and Shoal Bay.

“The verdict for Sail Port Stephens 2015 was ‘best ever’after around 1000 sailors had spent the past week soaking up the sun and fun,” Campbell said. “Conditions were perfect and the racing competitive so we’re expecting an even bigger fleet.

For details see sailportstephens杭州夜网.au or [email protected]杭州夜网.au.