WEEKEND WEB - Record fleet for Port Stephens regatta
Sail Port Stephens, starts Monday
A record fleet has registered to sail at this year's Sail Port Stephens (NSW), starting next Monday April 11 and running through to Sunday April 17.
Now in its fourth year, organisers said Sail Port Stephens is one of the fastest growing regattas in Australia, and many boats have already arrived for this "giant week" of sailing.
With a host of cruising boats and SB3 dinghies still completing their entry paperwork, regatta director Denis Thompson expects around 120 entries in total, a large increase from last year's 83.
Port Stephens mayor Bob Westbury expressed pride in the progress of the event.
"This event has put Port Stephens very much on the sailing destination map and our biggest problem going forward is infrastructure," said Westbury.
"There is a growing demand for additional marina berths as more and more cruising boats call into Port Stephens and these visitors are tourists who spend money and stay a while.
"Port Stephens is a superb sailing location and the waters are deep enough here to sail big yachts inside and outside the Bay.
"We have had Farr 40 and Sydney 38 events here for some years and for small-boat events, dinghies can be launched from Port Stephens' many beaches.
"We recently had 190 'off the beach' sailing dinghies here in February for the Laser Masters Australian Championship and now the Port Stephens sailing groups have been asked to put a bid forward for the 2015 World Championship event that could bring thousands of sailors and visitors into the area. This would be a major plus for tourism," he said.
Dom Grundy, from the organising authority Corlette Point Sailing Association, commented: "Even this year, berthing for the big fleet has been an issue but the marina operators and event organisers are working to ensure everyone has a place. The Australian sailing community is embracing Port Stephens as a new destination, so we have work to do in the future to grow our facilities."
The first of two feeder races for Sail Port Stephens 2011, the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club's Pittwater to Newcastle race — starting today (Saturday April 9) — and the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club's Newcastle to Port Stephens leg, will see the fleet streaming into Port Stephens on Sunday.
The Commodores Cup begins on Monday and will be sailed over three days on three picturesque bay courses.
Thursday's lay day allows the Commodores Cup racers a day of leisure, as the action heats up again on Friday with the Yachting NSW IRC Championship and the Port Stephens Trophy, which will feature both racing and cruising divisions.
This year, Sail Port Stephens will incorporate the SB3 Australian Championship. At least four crews will be heading for the SB3 Worlds in Britain just two weeks after the Nationals.
Australian Olympian, 49er and Moth World Champion Nathan Outteridge, and Glen Bourke, three times Laser World Champion and multiple UK SB3 National Champion, are predicted to lead this high-quality fleet.
For more information, go to www.sailportstephens.com.au
Photos: The action from Sail Port Stephens 2010. (Photos © Andrea Francolini)
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