J Success at Sail Port Stephens

Sail Port Stephens 2021 Regatta was held 19-25 April with the Port Stephens Trophy Event held 23-25 April with 130 keelboats and 50 trailables and off-the-beach classes enjoying the mild Autumn conditions. 

Sail Port Stephens goal is to give competitors the best possible on and off water regatta experience in one of the east coast’s finest sailing destinations, a little over 2 hours from Sydney by car or an easy 90nm day sail.  Port Stephens catchcry is ‘Incredible By Nature’; and if you love pristine beaches, crystal blue waters, spectacular sunsets over the nearby ranges and great sailing conditions then this is the place to be.

Two particularly outstanding results for the 3 day Trophy Event were J/88 ‘Joji’ and J/122 ‘Jackpot’ both winning their class convincingly.  Mark Wharton’s J/88 Joji winning 1,1,2 in their 26 boat Division 3 fleet.  Rob Hale’s J/122 Jackpot with 12,2,2 in their 22 boat Division 1 fleet.

Friday, the fleet looked spectacular as they headed offshore from Port Stephens under spinnaker, rounded the offshore islands then headed to the mark off Fingal Bay’s white sandy beach. A westerly of around 12-14 knots stayed for their course.  Saturday was the Broughton Island Passage Race with light and variable breezes and a few DNF’s but there was no stopping the J’s.  Sunday, the South Westerly breeze returned for the final day of the regatta being an inshore W/L race.  Reports from Mark (J/88 Joji) and Rob (J/122 Jackpot) below:

“It was J/88 Joji’s second Sail Port Stephens Regatta, it’s first in 2019 when the fleets got smashed by a 40 knot southerly squall in the last race. Not a fun moment or one to repeat. So this year’s breeze and weather conditions were just what the race organises ordered. It was a record fleet of 130 boats spread across a number of varied divisions. The racing was serious but lots of fun too with some close quarter starts and tense top mark roundings.

Joji went into all races knowing who the local boats were as the local knowledge was key to master the currents and breeze shifts. The size of Joji and relative to the Div 3 fleet needed an essential clear air start which made it very super competitive. Lucky for us all 3 starts were good and so we managed to break away from the main fleet to chase down the fast locals.

The first 2 races were passage races out offshore around the Islands and made for terrific asymmetrical spinnaker sailing. The 3rd race, an up and down with two marks top and bottom to give the 60 or so boats room at either end.

Joji’s handicap wins in the first 2 races didn’t separate the field very much “points wise” and going into the last race 4 boats were within a couple of points of each other. The pressure was on.

The 3rd race started in similar fashion, close quarters, downwind start, gybing onto port on the line and positioning for clear air again. And also keeping the local gun boat within reach. Joji’s superior speed upwind along with some great crew work on the tacks meant we knocked off the “boat to beat” and he eventually got buried in amongst the bigger boats. Joji maintained its clear air lead and took line honours and 2nd on handicap and winning the series by a clear 16 points.

A great result for Joji and its crew. “

Sydney based J/122 Jackpot lived up to her name again with a convincing win at Sail Port Stephens regatta over the weekend. The result is even more impressive as this is the first time Jackpot has competed in the ever growing Sail Port Stephens regatta. “It’s a very different sailing area to our beloved harbour with much more navigational effort required for the shallows, channel markers, wind shifts and tidal effects than we are used to.” said Rob.  At 40ft, Jackpot was at the smaller end of the impressive 22 boat competitive fleet including Farr 52,  Dehler 46, First45’s, McConaghy 47, first 47’s & X43 to name a few.

Rob Hale (skipper) commented: “The first race was very light with plenty of shifts and tidal influence, we were a bit rusty but still managed a 12th. Being one of the smallest boats in the fleet we had to re-think our start line tactics which helped us come back with vengeance in race 2 with a hard fought second place. Race three was inshore but again we managed a second place totalling 16 points for this 3 race regatta, a clear 4 points ahead of the our closest competitor.

It’s such a good feeling when you know you are at the smaller end of the fleet but finish with the top 4 boats crossing the line and look back thinking that was another great race.

Port Stephens is a beautiful and scenic place to race and we will be back to defend our title in 2022. We would like to thank our competitors for keeping us on our toes, Port Stephens Race organisers and of course our trusty crew for a great event.”

Photo Credits: J/122 Jackpot photos by D Edmiston.  J/88 Joji photos by Sail Port Stephens.

Mark from ‘Joji’ collecting his well deserved trophy
Crew on board J/122 ‘Jackpot’ apre sail!

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