Photography by Salty Dingo / Mark Rothfield
Marina berths have become rarer than hen’s teeth in the lead-up to Sail Port Stephens 2019, such is the demand from the keelboat brigade, yet there’s room aplenty for off-the-beach and trailable classes to be part of the action.
Separate divisions and courses have been created for trailer sailers, 16-Foot Skiffs and junior dinghies, all within the main regatta week instead of being satellite events as in past years.
It’s not just the ‘big kids’ who can play at Sail Port Stephens 2019. The Junior Regatta on 13-14 April is open to competitors under the age of 18, sailing one-sail dinghies such as Optimists, Bic O’Pens, Spirals and Lasers.
With Port Stephens Sailing and Aquatic Club (PSSAC) in Salamander Bay as the host club, the off-the-beach series is the perfect way to start the school holidays while mum and dad go sailing in the main regatta or enjoy some time ashore.
It ensures Sail Port Stephens has a new brigade of customers coming through while exposing the local juniors to some outside competition.
Entries will be taken at the PSSAC from 9am on Saturday 13 April, with the Notice of Race now posted at on the website.
The 16-Footers series is a chance for ‘skiffies’ to let their hair down with families and mates.
Newcastle sailmaker Scott Beeby, a 16s sailor and boat sponsor, explains: “We race all these hard-core regattas throughout the year but some of the venues aren’t the greatest place to stay for young families.
“We reckon Port Stephens is perfect. You can’t beat the waters for this kind of sailing, and there’s great accommodation and onshore activities.”
The skiffs will sail a mixture of windward-leeward and passage races on the Saturday and Sunday.
“Last year’s inaugural 16-Footers series had 11 starters and they were blown away by the hospitality they received,” Sail Port Stephens regatta director Jennie Hughes said. “This year we’d love to welcome a few more from Sydney and even Queensland.
“There’s whispers that Port Stephens may get to host a 16’s nationals in coming years, so the smart competitors can gain some local knowledge, and I guarantee they’ll have a great time.”
Meanwhile, trailable yacht classes get three days of racing, April 12-14, which includes a long inshore passage race on the Super Saturday under Category 7 safety. Their start line will be off the d’Albora Marina Nelson Bay breakwall, the same as the rest of the Sail Port Stephens fleet.