Sail Port Stephens 2013 - Strong winds test the fleets

Schouten Passage and Flying Cloud in the NSW IRC Championships, 2013 Sail Port Stephens day 4 racing. Sail Port Stephens is hosted by Corlette Point Sailing Club.
With an offshore Gale warning, the Sail Port Stephens 2013 fleet all sailed within the bay and it was fast flat water racing at its best for the Elliott 7 Australian Championship fleet, the NSW IRC titles and the Performance Racing and Cruising fleets.

The course for the IRC fleet provided some strong surfing conditions, with quite puffy wind and boat handling becomes the key to success.

The most painful sight today was that of the McCongahy 38 Ginger who came so hot into the bottom mark rounding that she turned her square top mainsail inside out. It was not a pretty sight. And there were torn spinnakers and headsails aplenty early in the day, but conditions eased quite quickly.

An impressive display from Anthony Dunn´s Reichel Pugh 42 H/H Equinox . With good starts and flawless crew-work secured two bullets in the IRC Division 1 fleet. Second on handicap is Sam Haynes Rogers 46 Celestial ahead of Ray Roberts 45 foot Mat1245 Obsession. The Mills designed Obsession would be better placed but for a poor start in the first race.

Anthony Dunn commented’ Equinox enjoys a stiff breeze and she seems to grow in waterline length when she gets 20+ knots. There was a lot happening around us. Blown kites, sheets and sails. We just kept a pretty clean track record and we were down a few crew members and we seemed to pull it all together and am pretty happy with it.

Wild Oats - NSW IRC Championships 2013 - Day 1
Sail Port Stephens Event Media

In the IRC Division 2 fleet another very assured performance from Roger Hickman's Wild Rose (the original Wild Oats).
Fast starts and solid upwind strategy was a winning formula today. Hicko leads from Peter Sorensen´s Philosopher’s Club, a former National IRC Champion - Third is Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club entry Rob Howard with Schouten Passage.

The 14 sports boats in the Elliott 7 Australian titles sailed three races in more protected waters on the southern edge of the Bay. Former Championship winner Matt Owen and his Canberra based In Spades crew shining early ahead of defending champion Aaron Terry sailing Selden P Plater, Andrew Barney Barney Army and another Australian champion Mike Green´s Evergreen.

Back at Soldiers Point Marina after the racing Owen was happy with the results ‘‘It was flat, just Canberra with wind, lots of big shifts, we loved it. It is our first Nationals in two years so we were very happy with the results. The boat was falling to pieces, we had major issues but we had a really good team on board. We had a good start to get upwind strategy and the rest of it came together.

In the Performance Racing Division 1 fleet another well sailed boat, Corinne and Rob Francis’, Sydney 41 The Banshee leads the fleet, this Murray Burns Dovell design has a deserved reputation for enjoying a blow. Second is the Matt Allen and Walter Lewin Farr 400 Ichiban.

In Performance Racing 2 the Sydney 38, Thirlmere, Warneford/Jamieson, leads from another Sydney 38 Peter Edwards Preddytor.

In the Performance Cruising fleet division 1, a Port Stephen locals Matt Bonser leads aboard his Melges 24 Watch Me with Dean and Jan Gillies, X-Yachts X-43, Firefly closely behind in second.

In Performance Cruising Division 2 Passion, David Edmiston´s 37 foot Jeanneau Sun Odyssey s currently in the top spot for the Performance Cruising Division 2 followed by the Murray Thompson´s Jeanneau 44ds Accountability.

It was not just the sailors who were happy today. Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson was smiling as he came ashore. ´The highlight of the day was definitely the much moderated breeze in the bay. There were early puffs to 28 knots, but by the second race winds had dropped to the mid-teens. There was good racing across all the classes. The Bureau of Meteorology has another Gale Warning in place for Hunter waters, so the Race Committee will review the situation ahead of the 9am briefing tomorrow morning.’

Racing tomorrow will again commence at 11am.

Full results at www.sailportstephens.com.au

NSW IRC Championships 2013 Day 1 at Port Stephens Ginger is trouble
Sail Port Stephens Event Media