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2014 Audi IRC Australian Championship accommodation – December 3, 2013

Newcastle, host city of this year’s Audi IRC Australian Championship and a top ten city in Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel 2011’ guide, is well equipped to cater for the influx of regatta arrivals, 16 – 20 April, 2014.

From its convict past, Newcastle has matured to be a thriving cosmopolitan centre featuring a busy working port and world class business and research hubs.

Around the waterfront, restaurants, bars and public spaces complement the comings and goings of coal freighters and fishing trawlers, while the eight beaches surrounding the city centre offer families and surfers plenty of choice.

Boat owners planning to enter the Audi IRC Australian Championship are encouraged to book accommodation early as the timing of the championship means it coincides with the school holidays, plus it’s the Easter holiday weekend which means visitation to the area will be high.

CEO Richard Howard, from the host Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, assures crews and their families that the city offers a wide variety of accommodation close to the club, “Newcastle offers a range of accommodation to meet all budgets, a lot of which is within walking distance or a short drive of the club”.

“From the larger hotels overlooking Newcastle’s golden beaches to serviced apartments, pubs and even a few great backpacker hostels, there is a style of accommodation to suit everyone”.

Accommodation partners for the 2014 Audi IRC Australian Championship are Crowne Plaza Newcastle, located on the Honeysuckle waterfront, and Chifley Apartments and Executive Suites, also located in the vibrant Honeysuckle district and Newcastle CBD, respectively.

Positioned on NCYC’s commercial precinct, Borelli Quirk Newcastle Real Estate can also assist with short term furnished accommodation options for entire crews.

Competitors need to contact suppliers directly to get quotes and should mention they are competing at the Audi IRC Australian Championship when they enquire.

For partners or family members who will be shore crew during the championship, Newcastle offers a plethora of dining, cultural, historical and outdoor activities.

Funky cafes in Darby Street, fantastic beaches and shopping, Australia’s finest vineyards at the nearby Hunter Valley and some great cultural sites, including the recently re-opened Newcastle Regional Museum and Newcastle Regional Art Gallery Newcastle, will make it easy to fill the days until the sailors return to shore.

For boat owners and managers needing last minute parts or repairs during the regatta, NCYC’s precinct offers a full service including East Coast Marine and North Sails service loft (, Midcoast Boatyard ( with its 40 ton travel lift with 5.6m max beam capable of lifting a Volvo 70, and Waterline Boat Service for diving hulls (ph. 0415 356 021).

“Competitors will have easy access to a full range of boat services to ensure the highest maintenance level and a problem-free regatta,” added Howard.

For more details on how to find accommodation for the 2014 Audi IRC Australian Championships and things to do in Newcastle, go the event website –

This is the third year of the Audi IRC Australian Championship as a standalone event endorsed by the national body, Yachting Australia. Audi Australia is proud of its long association with sailing and the championship, which the brand has supported since 2007.

Refer to the website for the list of entries, Notice of Race and to enter.

Anger Management takes ‘first blood’ in NCYC’s Cross Lion Bird & Cabbage Offshore Series – December 2, 2013

Slipping across the Newcastle finish line to take line honours at 4am on Saturday morning in a light Westerly Anger Management’s 99 mile dash up and down the coast in the first race of NCYC’s Cross Lion Bird & Cabbage Offshore Series was brought to a conclusion. In doing so and while the remainder of the fleet battled the variable conditions in Stockton Bight, Anger Management also won the race on IRC from Schouten Passage and The Raging Bull.

Following a 10am Newcastle Harbour start the fleet was sent south to round Bird Island before heading north up to Cabbage Tree Island prior to returning to finish in Newcastle. An uneventful and relatively ‘straight line’ fetch down to Bird Island in a South Easterly which went to the East resulted in plenty of VMG sailing.  Phil Arnall, skipper of Anger Management, the only yacht to round both Bird and Cabbage Tree islands in daylight described the scenario:

“After making good time down the coast to Bird Island and as we went north and approached Cabbage Tree Island the breeze started to fizzle. Luckily we got round the Island ok but we knew the poor guys further down the track would be doing it tough in the light conditions off Port Stephens as they tried to close the coast and set up for the Cabbage Tree rounding. The rocky shoreline and currents off Port Stephens coupled with light breeze makes it a challenging piece of coast to sail past.  While the first 70 miles of the race took us 9 hours the remaining 30 miles took us another seven hours! But I guess that’s the fun of ocean racing for you”.

The next three yachts One for the Road, Schouten Passage and The Raging Bull had a ding dong battle all finishing the race within 10 minutes of each other in that order.  Rob Howard, skipper of Schouten Passage, said “It would have been nice to have a bit more breeze.  We made a couple of tactical errors on our way down to Bird ending up a little further offshore than our competitors which was fine until the breeze went left and they managed to lay the island while we overcooked our approach. We hung in there and made some good decisions on the way back from Cabbage Tree to Newcastle. By staying further inshore in Stockton Bight on the way back to Newcastle we picked up the Westerly land breeze earlier than some of the other yachts which helped us improve our result over the last 20 miles of the race. It was great to be back out ocean racing. The coast line between Bird and Cabbage Tree Islands, including Stockton Bight, and the influences in has on the wind conditions certainly keep the racing interesting…”

Finishing on daybreak She’s the Culprit was the final yacht to finish the race. Both She’s the Culprit and One for the Road are now in full preparation mode for the Sydney Hobart while Anger Management is having Christmas off before racing North in the Pittwater Coffs Race.

NCYC’s Cross Lion Bird & Cabbage Series consist of four offshore race of between 60 and 100 miles which are run as category 3 races with the addition of PLBs for all crew members.  The next race in the series will be held on 8 February 2014 during which yachts will race from Newcastle to Sydney Harbour, finishing off Clarke Island.  Yachts will race back to Newcastle the following weekend with the CYCA’s fleet.

Full results are available on NCYC’s website –

Last Day of Winter, More Like Summer at the Successful Inner Spring Regatta – September 2, 2013

Day One

The forecasters were on the mark for day one of the EnviroPacific Services Inner Spring Regatta – Lots of sun and light winds.

Photo by Mic Eggleston

Saturday started with a light NW morning breeze which had the 17 yacht fleet motor north for windward leeward racing in Stockton Bight. On 1.8 and 1.4 nautical mile beats for Division 1 and 2, respectively, the first race was characterised by some big shifts and tricky light conditions resulting in the fleet splitting across the race course both upwind and downwind in an attempt to find their own winning shift or pocket of pressure.

As the fleet tucked in under the Stockton Bight breakers making their way around the top mark no one could have asked for a more magnificent conditions for the last day of winter.  The wind faded as yachts were finishing the first of three scheduled races.

With the gradient breeze fizzling the Race Committee took the fleet south and reset a course off Newcastle Baths for the second and third races of the day in anticipation that the breeze would fill in from the South.

Volvo 70 Southern Excellence, the big boat in the fleet was quite a spectacle lining up and starting against the smaller boats in the fleet including Beneteau 36 Summersalt and Sydney 36 Botany Bay Access Cocomo.

In race 2 the fleet jostled hard on the start line with Farr 36 Toy Story being OCS and a number of other boats being right on the line as the gun went. The fleet worked hard up the first beat with everyone going around the short and longer windward divisional marks within 40 seconds of each other and the 17 yacht spinnaker  procession gybing downward towards Nobby’s Beach led by the big red and white Volvo 70.

The final race of the day was sailed in a 9 knots South Easterly and the motto “Good things come to those that wait” was definitely true with the race three wind being the best of the day.  A little more breeze had Southern Excellence demonstrating her speed sailing away from the predominately 35-45 foot fleet for an easy line honours win. On IRC Occasional Course Language One was victorious in Division 1 and Schouten Passage won Division 2.

Photo by Mic Eggleston

Following a long day on the water yachties were happy to return to NCYC for a few drinks and a BBQ dinner which was hosted by regatta sponsor EnviroPacific Services.

Day Two

Day two started with a morning windward leeward course on another glorious day. The 9.30am offshore start had the Club busy both as a result of the regatta but also Father’s Day. Where else would dad have rather have been than in Newcastle, especially given the first day of spring was a sign of a great summer ahead.

The fleet started the windward leeward race in a light SW which veered left as the race progressed causing some significant change of courses by the Race Committee. Tight finishes were had especially amongst Archambault 40 One For the Road and Schouten Passage and also Cocomo and Summersalt. IRC went to Farr 40 PT 73 and Schouten Passage in the final windward leeward race of the series with PHS being won by Corby 43 Anger Management and Beneteau 40.7 Novocaine.

The fleet mingled while the stragglers finished and the Race Committee set the marks for the grand finale, the double points 17 nautical mile distance race.  With the course set, the fleet started in Stockton Bight, raced South to a mark off Merewether Beach before returning to Stockton Bight prior to heading South once again to a Mark off Newcastle Beach and then returning up the Hunter River to finish off Queens Wharf Brewery.

A little slow out of the blocks, Southern Excellence soon led the fleet as they tacked down the coast towards Merewether. In hot pursuit was Corby 43 Anger Management and Farr 40’s PT73 and Long Time Dead.  After rounding the Merewether Mark the fleet put on a great show for Newcastle with 17 spinnakers sliding back up the beaches and again into Stockton Bight.  Inglis 37 She’s the Culprit was having a great dog fight with One For the Road, Schouten Passage, Novocaine, Beneteau 42 Yes and Occasional Course Language One who all reached North as if they were all connected to a 100m piece of bungee chord.

At the rear of the fleet Sigma 36 Rogue Wave was coming into her own and getting some great practice in for some planned longer offshore racing over the next 6 months, including the Solo Trans Tasman Race.

As the fleet approached the finish and reached into the Hunter River past the Newcastle Foreshore crowds in the park had great vantage points to watch the yachts and enjoy the amazing weather.

Photo by Mic Eggleston

PT73 and Schouten Passage remained in good form to take the IRC Divisional Wins in the long race and also the series while Southern Excellence and Novocaine won the long race on PHS in their respective divisions. In doing so Novocaine won the series in PHS Division 2 while Tom Woods on his canting keel Farr 36 Toy Story managed to snare the narrow series win in PHS Division 1.

All in all the regatta was a great success with all scheduled racing achieved. The Inner Spring Regatta marks the start of a big season of sailing at NCYC which will include a number of races to Port Stephens and Sydney as well as Club Racing and the annual Newcastle Port Stephens Race just prior to Sail Port Stephens.  Following Sail Port Stephens the sailing season will culminate with NCYC hosting the 2014 Audi IRC Australian Championships at Easter next year which will be a great event.

EnviroPacific Inner Spring Regatta results are available at

NCYC Crew on “Guilty Pleasures” off to a great start at Hamo! – August 19, 2013

You can’t start a regatta with a better place than a bullet… Chartered Sydney 38 “Guilty Pleasures” with NCYC sailors on board have started Hamo in fine fashion with a 1st place in PHS Non-Spinnaker Division. The weather looks good and the crew are obviously having fun. NCYC will keep you posted on their results throughout the regatta!

Below are some photos…. Tough day at the office!!

NCYC Members Attend Tactics & Strategy Session with Craig Ferris – July 10, 2013

Last night, Yachting NSW Sailing Coach Craig Ferris presented to NCYC members information on Sailing Tactics and Wind Strategy. Those who attended found the two hour seminar very informative with a number of great questions asked by participants.

Below is a brief summation of those “Goldern Rules”, which Craig promises the best sailors in the world abide by when racing to win.

  1. Be at the start and on the start line when the gun goes (not on the way to the start or two boat lengths behind the line).
  2. Navigate accurately – Know your course before the gun goes.
  3. If the wind goes left, be on Port tack / If the wind goes right be on starboard tack (that simple!), especially if an oscillating breeze.
  4. Sail the knocking tack first if you are confident you are sailing into persistent shift.
  5. Always stay in pressure (it will make you look good most of the time).
  6. Cross when you can and make/consolidate gain (i.e. upwind you have only made a gain when you tack back towards the centre of the course and the fleet). People who generally sail on the edges of the course are more often than not gamblers and not manage risk as well as they could.
  7. As a general rule, sail the longest tack first (both upwind and downwind).
  8. Manage your risks at the start (i.e. starting at the ends is higher risk as is starting under a fast boat). Again be on the start at the start.
  9. Understand what the weather is doing. Is it going to be a gradient breeze? A weak or strong sea breeze? How much will it veer? Get in tune with the weather to assist your wind strategy.
  10. Practice the simple things… and review your performance to focus on areas where improvements can be made (i.e. understand your strengths and weaknesses).

Craig recommended NCYC’ sailors try the BOM’s new Meteye product (username: Meteye / Password: Experimental).

The seminar was thorough and informative and on behalf of all those members who attended, NCYC thanks Craig for his time and effort in putting the presentation together.

Remember be on the start at the start….!

Count back decides NCYC Winter Series – July 9, 2013

On the final day of NCYC’s winter series, which has been plagued by a big breeze, tumultuous seas and plenty of rain, such conditions could be further from the truth on the ultimate day of racing off Newcastle. On a glorious winters Sunday morning without a cloud in the sky and nice brisk 10 knot westerly the fleet headed directly off Newcastle’s Nobby’s Beach to be greeted by flat seas.

Starting on time, the fleet jockeyed up for the start of the first of two windward leeward races. With IRC divisional series leader Schouten Passage (Rob Howard) a single point ahead of PT73 (Tony Lobb) and three points clear of Storage King Wallop (Peter Hewson) the final day’s racing was guaranteed to be tight. Similarly, in PHS, while Summersalt (Tim Gleeson) held a 5 point stranglehold on the series Toy Story (Tom Woods), She’s the Culprit (Michael McDonald), Novocaine (Vaughn Stephens), Wallop and PT73 were still in contention for the minor series placings or potentially a series win dependant on how the dominoes fell.

After a clean start, the fleet of 11 split evenly across the course on the 1.4 nautical mile beat with PT73 hitting her straps off the start line and establishing an early advantage up the middle of the course. Schouten Passage struggled off the line with a clearing tack seconds before the gun, then heading right up the first beat in a light breeze more suited to the Farr 40 configuration than that of the Beneteau 40.7. At the windward mark PT73 lead Storage King Wallop and further extended down the run with Anger Management (Phil Arnall) and Toy Story working their way into the mix as the breeze softened further. The pack behind, which included Close Halled (Graeme Hall), Marta Jean (Steve Rae), and Schouten Passage again split across the full width of the course attempting to get a shift or waft of extra breeze.

Subsequent to a late start, Long Time Dead (Matt Fensom) showed perseverance revelling in the light conditions clawing back much of the five minute self-imposed handicap to be within striking distance of the leading pack as they approached the top mark for the second time.

Following a slower second downwind leg in a fading land breeze, PT73 crossed the finish line ahead of Anger Management and Toy Story.

On completion of the first race, the Committee battled with trying to reset the course in the ever fading winter breeze while the fleet basked in the winter sun while having the pleasure of watching a number of whales journey up the coast on their annual Northern pilgrimage. Following a short postponement, the Race Committee pulled the pin on further racing and the fleet headed for home.

PT73’s convincing line honours win in the final race had  her take our IRC also with Schouten Passage sneaking in for a 2nd a mere one second ahead of Storage King Wallop. PT73 took the honours in PHS ahead of Marta Jean and Anger Management.

With the series decided, PT73 won IRC on a count back from Schouten Passage with Summersalt hanging in there to take the title on PHS.

With a 6 week hiatus in NCYC’s sailing calendar and the opportunity for yachts to race North the Club and volunteers will take a much needed break prior to starting what is guaranteed to be a big 2013-14 summer of sailing at NCYC. The summer season will start with the Inner Spring Regatta at the end of August and culminate with the Audi IRC Australian Championships over Easter next year.

CLICK HERE for full NCYC Winter Series Results (

By NCYC Media