The fleet in this year’s Auto Advantage Newcastle to Port Stephens Yacht Race were dealt a mixed bag of conditions in the annual sprint up the coast with Stephen Proud’s Swishtaking top honours across the line and on IRC.
On a stormy and wet morning with minimal shipping movements the fleet mingled in Newcastle Harbour for what looked like a light air reach out the heads and North. With a couple of minutes to the start a wet frontal band swept across Newcastle resulting the breeze building. The fleet tight reached out the heads with Tom Woods canting keel Farr 36 OD Toy Story and Swish leading the fleet. The race quickly became eventful for the a few yachts that were bullish enough to attempt to set spinnakers down the harbour thereafter quickly realizing that they were going to end up in Stockton Beach Caravan Park if not quickly doused!
In Stockton Bight the unsettled and variable conditions continued with the breeze slowly dropping and swinging back to the South. One consolation on a grey old day was the eventual colour fleet fifteen of spinnakers gybing backwards and forwards off Morna Point trying to find the best lane towards the Point Stephens Finish Gate.
With a convincing line honours win to Swish, Toy Story and Matt Fensom’s Farr 40 Long Time Dead took out the remaining podium positions followed by Phil Arnall’s Anger Management and the turbo charged Mumm 30, Rumbo, owned by Port Stephens oyster farmer Guy Holbert.
Toy Story collected the PHS prize and IRC was won by Swish with Marta Jean (Steve Rae) and Excapade (Noel Gough) finishing second and third respectively.
The action now moves to Sail Port Stephens which starts on Friday with the Audi IRC Australian Championships to follow at NCYC commencing on Thursday 17 April 2014.
Results for the race are available on NCYC’s website: http://www.ncyc.net.au/newcastle-to-port-stephens-race/