Big guns

Sailfest Newcastle kicks off with the TP52 Gold Cup on Friday.

Written by Jack O'Rourke

25 March 2019


Local sailor Mick Martin will be leading the charge as the new TP52 Series comes roaring into Newcastle. The former rugby international and his crew on the TP52 Frantic will be going up against some the best sailors in the country when the Australian TP52 fleet go head to head.

The Gold Cup, staged during Sailfest Newcastle, will take place on 29 March, in a highly competitive regatta that will be a showcase event for the region.

On Wednesday at Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, Lord Mayor of Newcastle Nuatali Nelmes was invited on board Frantic with skipper Mick Martin to officially launch Sailfest Newcastle, alongside Steve Rae, Commodore NCYC; Ron Brown OAM, Sailfest event manager; Tom Woods, owner of Toy Box and Paul O’Rourke, CEO of NCYC.

“We are delighted to have the support of the City of Newcastle as we officially launch Sailfest Newcastle”, CEO Paul O’Rourke says.

“It is great to grow the sport of sailing in the region, and it should be quite the spectacle for those on the foreshore. There are great vantage points all over the city to catch a glimpse of all the boats, from TP52s to trailer sailers.”


“The TP52 fleet in particular will put on a good show when they race off Nobby’s Beach. These boats all have offshore racing capability, so the series is truly up for grabs.”

Mick Martin and his crew are raring to.

“We are an amateur team but we are keen to take a chunk out of the big boys,” Martin says.

“It all comes down to the conditions, and if we pick it right we should be in with a chance.”

Race organisers from the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club are expecting up to seven starters for the TP52 Gold Cup, all with a strong chance of being crowned either outright winner or Corinthian victor.

An initiative of the class’ owner group, the Gold Cup addresses a recent decline in TP52 activity due to the widening gap between new-generation designs and older, amateur-crewed backmarkers. The Gold Cup is levelling the playing field with AMS handicapping as a base rule along with an individual TP rating component plus Corinthian allowance.

Teams allowed one professional sailor without penalty, but are penalised per professional up until five crew, then a 2-click penalty after that.

Among those confirmed for the Gold Cup at Sailfest Newcastle is local boat Frantic, along with Hooligan, Gweilo, Celestial, Zen, Koa.

Secret Men’s Business, Quest, Ichi Ban and Envy Scooter are unlikely to race, but will keeping an eye on the competition for next year.

The three-day series, with the City of Newcastle as title sponsor, will include windward-leewards off Newcastle Beach and a passage race on Stockton Bight. The TP52 Series will be a highlight of the Sailfest Newcastle, which will also feature Elliott 6 sport boats, 16-foot skiffs, off-the-beach performance classes, lasers, trailer yachts and the historic Cock of the Harbour Race.

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