The forecasters were on the mark for day one of the EnviroPacific Services Inner Spring Regatta – Lots of sun and light winds.
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.
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 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.
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 http://www.ncyc.net.au/results/2014/events/innerpringracing/SGrp2.htm