Sail Port Stephens Regatta - The Elusive Spirit Story

Sail Port Stephens 2017 – Elusive Spirit’s story

This year was my opportunity to take part in Sail Port Stephens entering Elusive Spirit into the fleet. I called upon John Egger, Nigel Short and Ray Hill who all said ‘yes’ to being crew members for the regatta.

Entry was made as early as possible so that I could guarantee a berth at the D’Albora Marina in Port Stephens, entry into both the Commodores Cup and Port Stephens Trophy, plus entry into the feeder race from Newcastle to Port Stephens and along with the hiring of a unit adjacent to the marina, set us up for a great week. Ray Hill would drive up with some of our gear and pick up the keys to the apartment.

Leaving the Gosford Sailing Club at 0600 on Saturday 1st April I cruised north with John and Nigel as crew poling out the number two headsail and full main. The motor came in at times as the speed dropped below 5 knots and we had a pleasant trip to Newcastle. We had an allocated berth that was included with our race entry and we enjoyed the hospitality of the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club during the evening before settling down for a good sleep before the first of our scheduled races.

Sunday 2nd April dawned with a forecast of strong SE winds so after breakfast at the local restaurant we headed out for a 1000 start selecting the no3 headsail and a reef in the main. We stayed to the southern side of Newcastle Harbour for our start and followed the fleet of 36 yachts out of the harbour looking for two marks laid off Stockton Beach which we had to keep to starboard.

It was a brisk ride to Point Stephens lighthouse with a stiff breeze of 25 to 30 knots at times and a cross swell, but we were in good control as we paralleled the coast. At the lighthouse we had to veer to port before gybing to the finish tucked in behind the headland, as the finish boat tried to stay on station. We saw 11 knots on the log as we surfed towards the finish line. We were the last yacht to officially complete the course as many had failed to find the finish line and we had the last yacht still behind us. Officially we placed 29th on handicap.

The best yacht from Gosford Sailing Club was Devil’s Lair placing 7th on handicap. Aeolian placed 21st Koko placed 25th with Kelsea Blue listed DNF.

We were allocated our berth on the marina located behind Colortile from Cronulla. We were to share the area with Balance, Devil’s Lair and Ichi Ban during the week, Elusive Spirit in illustrious company.

After settling into our apartment we headed across the road to the hotel for dinner. Monday 3rd April saw the first of our shopping visits for John Egger to create his special sandwiches we enjoyed for lunch out on the water. We purchased the makings for our evening meal as well. This was to become our daily tradition.

The winds were still strong from the south so the first race was scheduled inside Port Stephens, taking us from eastern end to the western end of Port Stephens and starting and finishing off the breakwall outside the main harbour at Nelson Bay. We selected the number three headsail and full main.

It was a great start to the Commodores Cup held over the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We placed 14th on handicap in a fleet of 38 yachts. We were able to see the yachts we were to make as our markers for our own competition within the fleet, our yacht being the smallest and oldest. We were pleased to be up with yachts that were larger than us but competitive with us.

Kelsea Blue placed 7th, Aeolian 13th, Devil’s Lair 15th, Granny Jen 17th, Even Finer 18th and All Our Girls 25th.

Race 2 was held on Tuesday 4th April again with a course set within Port Stephens, starting with the tide which saw some division one yachts over the start line and then struggled to return against the current/tide and into the division two fleet. However we managed a spinnaker just after the start which took us down to the division one fleet which meant some tricky steering to avoid the holes they had found. Then as the wind built the fleet settled down to some great racing in the western end of Port Stephens, again finishing off the marina entrance. Our sail selection was the number two and main.

Devil’s Lair placed 5th, Kelsea Blue 8th, All Our Girls 19th, Granny Jen 22nd, Elusive Spirit 23rd, Aeolian 25th and Even Finer 28th.

Race 3 on Wednesday 5th April saw the fleet again in the western end of Port Stephens as the weather was still strong from the south. We again choose the number 2 and full main as we again sailed against the fleet.

Even Finer placed 1st, Kelsea Blue 6th, Aeolian 9th, Elusive Spirit 11th, Granny Jen 14th, All Our Girls 15th and Devil’s Lair 22nd. Congratulations to Geoff Dilworth and crew.

This saw the final results for our fleet in the Commodores Cup as Kelsea Blue 2nd, Devil’s Lair 13th, Even Finer 14th, Aeolian 15th, Elusive Spirit 16th, Granny Jen 18th, and All Our Girls 22nd. Congratulations to Adrian Williams and crew on this result. We were happy with our results and enjoyed the racing on all three days.

Thursday 6th April was the lay day and we ventured up to Fame Cove where we rafted up with Devil’s Lair and Aeolian to enjoy the surroundings, some great sea food, cold drinks and some stories both true and tall!

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were races to contest the Port Stephens Trophy. The winds had abated so we selected the number one headsail and full main to contest the series. The first race took us outside to circle the offshore islands just outside Port Stephens. It was a steady breeze that took the fleet around Cabbage Tree Island, then Little Island, around Boondelbah Island then return to Cabbage Tree Island before proceeding to the finish again off the breakwater at Nelson Bay.

Koko Garmin placed 2nd, Aeolian 7th, Elusive Spirit 8th, Granny Gen 11th, Even Finer 15th while All Our Girls was TLE.

The second race also took us outside the heads to again round the islands and return to Port Stephens with the winds bringing the fleet home well. Congratulations again to Geoff Dilworth on placing 1st in our fleet. All Our Girls placed 5th, Elusive Spirit 6th, Aeolian 7th, Koko Garmin 10th and Granny Jen 18th. Devil’s Lair was 2nd in Division One and along with Mac 2 placing 3rd in their division it meant that Gosford Sailing Club was declared the winning team ahead of all the other clubs represented by at least three yachts in the different fleets.

The final race on Sunday 9th April again saw some close racing as the trophies were still being closely contested. Even Finer placed 2nd, Koko Garmin 4th, All Our Girls 6th, Granny Jen11th and Elusive Spirit 12th.

So the final series results were Koko Garmin placed 4th, Even Finer 5th, Elusive Spirit 7th, All Our Girls 11th, Aeolian 12th and Granny Jen13th. Gosford Sailing Club yachts had done well throughout both series and enjoyed the level of racing that the regatta had provided.

At the end of the last race we decided to make for home, so Nigel and I had a quick meal and then headed off. John was joining Jeff Dilworth to help bring back Even Finer. A great NE breeze was blowing so we headed off with the Number 3 and full main and began a great run back down the coast. We put in two reefs into the main to keep control as we quickly made our way south. However we were off Bird Island when we were hit by the weather change from the south and then the south west so we turned around and made our way back to Newcastle under motor. We had organized a berth ‘just in case’ and were able to spend the night there.

With no change in the weather, we contacted Ray and he diverted to come by on his way back from Port Stephens and we headed off in the car. The yacht was sailed back to Brisbane Water on Good Friday by myself and Darryl Bartley cruising back in light airs motor sailing all the way.

A great adventure and all yachts from Gosford Sailing Club should be encouraged to be involved if they can. It is our local ‘Airlie Beach Race Week’ or ‘Hamilton Island Race Week’ without the long passage to North Queensland and a long return journey. We have to defend the ‘Club Trophy’ next year. Congratulations to the organizing committee on a great 10th regatta.


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