Experience wins out

Sail Port Stephens state titles were one for the ages.

01 May 2024


Age has not wearied two veterans of Australian sailing, with Marcus Blackmore and Ray Roberts claiming prestigious NSW IRC titles at the Sail Port Stephens Windward-Leeward Series over the weekend.

Blackmore’s new Hooligan claimed Division 1 honours in the NSW Yachting Championships against arguably the strongest fleet of TP52s assembled in Australia, handing David Doherty’s all-conquering Matador a rare defeat, while Roberts’ Botin Fast 40 Team Hollywood prevailed in Division 2 against reigning national champion Let’s Get It On.

The six-race series was sailed in a range of conditions, beginning with a 20-knot southerly and high seas on Friday, through to a gentle passage race on Saturday then an idyllic nor-easter of 10 to 12 knots Sunday.


At 79, Blackmore is relishing his third stint in the TP52 class aboard his newly built boat, having previously bought yachts with world-title form.

“It’s a new boat and we’re still learning,” he said. “After SailFest Newcastle we had a reset and that’s delivered for us in this regatta.

“It’s never easy to knock off Matador. They’re very well sailed but today we were able to get up – that’s the game. But we also demonstrated in this regatta how close the boats are, which makes it really interesting for everyone.

“The owners are a really close-knit group and to come here to Port Stephens has been fantastic.”

While collecting his Division 2 silverware, Ray Roberts joked: “I don’t want to upset the young guys but I’ll let you in on a secret – this is the first regatta I’ve won since turning 80.”

It was also his first Sail Port Stephens foray, and he was greatly impressed.

“The sailing area is unmatched in the world. It’s The best sailing area I’ve ever sailed in, and I’ve sailed pretty well everywhere,” he added.

Team Hollywood won the first three windward-leewards on Friday, revelling in the high-wind surfing conditions. It posted a 6th in the passage race after being buried in a windless hole at the start then a 4th and 2nd yesterday to finish on 15 points.

Let’s Get It On, a Corby 36 owned by Garry Holt from Southport Yacht Club, showed brilliant consistency to finish with three second placings and a first. Fittingly, it won the Rob Hampshire Cup judged on ORC, edging out the Bull 9000 Bullwinkle and Beneteau 40.7 Wailea.

In the Pallas Capital Gold Cup Act 3, sailed under the TPR rule, series leader Matador resumed normal service in race 5 yesterday, posting its fourth win in five races, before finishing with a 4th.

Two points behind was Craig Neil’s Quest, which had started the day on equal points with Matador, while Seb Bohm’s Smuggler finished third. Mark Spring’s Highly Sprung was the leading Corinthian entry.

The Sail Port Stephens regatta series now moves inshore from Friday 3 May, with the Bay Series incorporating the Australian Sports Boat Association NSW Titles, along with a strong fleet of J70s.

4 & 5 May will add an off-the-beach component, comprising RS Aeros, Finns, OK dinghies and an open division.

Sail Port Stephens is supported by the NSW Government via its tourism agency Destination NSW, Port Stephens Council, Pantaenius Australia and subsidiary sponsors.



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