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Through sliding doors to sailing nirvana

Day 4 at Sail Port Stephens saw crews on the 107 boats enjoy flawless conditions perfectly aligned to the scenic offshore courses set by Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson.

A squeeze at the pin end of the start line in Division 1 resulted in Julian Bell’s 51st Project being recalled but slick crew work aboard the big Beneteau 50 put her back among the leaders on the first upwind leg to Cabbage Tree Island.

A tight reach took the fleet to Little Island before bow and mast teams scrambled to get spinnakers set for the quick run to Boondelbah Island and back down for another stint on the breeze back to Cabbage Tree Island. It was then more fast sail changes on the challenging figure-eight course, before an at times exciting kite run back in through the heads and down to the finish off Nelson Bay breakwall.

The solid 20-knot north easterly led to a number of round-ups, but that wasn’t a problem for Fourth Dimension IV, a Hanse 575 … at 17 metres and 25 tonnes the biggest and heaviest boat in the entire fleet. Now berthed at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, Adam Griffin has brought the family cruiser all the way back from Europe via the Caribbean and the Pacific, so knows when Fourth Dimension IV is nicely in the groove.

“We managed to sail the course in good wind, good pressure, and managed to pick some good angles,” Griffin said matter-of-factly but it was clear by the post-race celebrations he and his crew were delighted with the result. “We did pretty well considering we only had five on board,” he admitted.

Peter and Bryan Grayson’s OD 35 Khaleesi notched their first podium of the regatta in second while Craig Douglas and crew aboard the Beneteau first 47.7 Popeye from Middle Harbour Yacht Club also found the stronger conditions to their liking in third place.

In Division 2, Rob Howard’s Beneteau 40.7 Schouten Passage sailed the best angles to claim first, with Kite Runner, John Zagame’s well-performed Hanse 430e, claiming second ahead of another Hanse, Richard Stock’s Etre Jeune, a Hanse 445.

Exiting or entering the daunting 1.2km entrance to Port Stephens presents the biggest sliding door on the course and locals like Steve Liney, who claimed his second win of the series in Division 3, know that only too well.

“Even though the tidal range today wasn’t big, going out on the southern side always works well when we do club racing. You can get some nasty wind swells around Yacaaba (the northern headland), so we had a good run and that was really important for us,” he recounted. With one race remaining tomorrow, Liney’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2 Bellamy is lying in second in the overall point score behind Animal Farm from the Gosford Sailing Club.

In today’s bigger breeze, Matt Doyle’s Beneteau Sense 50 La Troisieme Mi Temps and Peter Lewis’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440 Ca va powered home to second and third respectively on the Division 3 podium.

In Division 4 Trim’s third was enough to lift them four points clear of their nearest rivals in the overall standings while, in the Non-Spinnaker Division, James Kearney’s venerable 1974 S&S 34 Red William clearly enjoyed the decent breeze to claim first from Great Expectations and Transcendence Credo.

Sail Port Stephens culminates tomorrow with the eventual winners of the coveted Pantaenius Commodores Cup and Port Stephens Trophy named at a special presentation after racing concludes.

Click here for the results 

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