Make way to the Bay

As Sail Port Stephens fast approaches, avid sailors and holiday makers alike are flooding to the region for fun and exploration on the water.

27 March 2018


The 11th annual Sail Port Stephens regatta, incorporating the Commodores Cup, NSW IRC Championships, Australian Sports Boat Nationals, Super 12 NSW Title, Port Stephens Trophy (Performance Cruising + Racing) will run from 9-15 April 2018.

‘P.S. I love you’ is the catchy marketing cry for NSW tourism destination Port Stephens but it could just as easily be sailing parlance for ‘Port’ and ‘Starboard’.

Here, a yacht can sail for miles without having to alter course. Port tack or starboard, just cleat the sheets and glide onwards to your anchorage.

Certainly, the main channel is dotted with fishing tinnies and there’s a flotilla of charter vessels dawdling among the dolphins and whales, yet somehow this sparkling expanse of crystal-clear water never seems overcrowded.



Boaties familiar with Sydney Harbour’s feral ferries or the shipping movements on Newcastle Harbour will discover how relaxed sailing can be.

For restful overnighting, Fame Cove is the place to go on the NSW coast. There are few more sheltered inlets anywhere. By day you can row ashore at Jimmys Beach and walk across the sand hills to surf at Hawks Nest. In a southerly, duck into Dutchies for a dip, or find respite from the summer nor’easters in Salamander Bay.

A great day-trip for offshore yachts is Fingal Spit, from where you can stroll to Point Stephens lighthouse. Broughton Island, just nine nautical miles from the Heads, gives a realistic taste of the Whitsundays.

There’s so much for the family to do ashore as well, from sand dune tours in Stockton Bight to dolphin watch cruises and superb dining. For those seeking accommodation, Port Stephens Accommodation and Winning Holidays has a huge range of options.

You’d also be hard-pressed finding better berthing than at D’ALBORA Marina Nelson Bay, The Anchorage Marine or Soldiers Point Marina.

PS: for sports-minded sailors there is much to like as well.

Sail Port Stephens Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson declares: “It’s fantastic! One of the best sailing spots I’ve been to … and I’ve been to quite a few,” he says.

“The offshore course north of Cabbage Tree Island has reasonable waves, fairly settled wind conditions and a little bit of current to make it interesting for navigators. Inside, you have a big bay with a few sandbanks as hazards.”

During Sail Port Stephens the jury room tends to be used sparingly, Thompson added. “Most people enjoy the family atmosphere. The first few days are like a twilight race in the afternoon – the last three days are a bit more intense.

“The IRC boats are right on the ball, the Performance Handicap guys race pretty hard as well, and we have the Australian Sports Boat Association nationals and Super 12 NSW Titles … so it’s a good mix.”

The season extends this year with the Junior One-Sail regatta sponsored by Port Stephens Strata on 17-18 April, followed by the 16-Footers Keg Run on 21-22 April.

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