Belying a tropical 30-degree heatwave, Sail Port Stephens 2018 got off to a chilled start today in light and fickle westerly winds that preceded a late afternoon glass-out.
A record 78 boats – spread across three divisions for the first time – greeted the starter for a downwind dash from Nelson Bay to Shoal Bay, with the Ker 40 Showtime showing a clean transom to the chasing pack in Division 1.
From there it was a race of two halves, a work into a shifty 5-12 knot followed by a run in a fast-fading breeze. Fortune favoured those who’d done well early, as all three division winners on PHS were also the respective line honours victors.
Showtime co-owners Mark Griffith and Campbell Letchford nailed the start and, once in clean air, they sailed their own race.
“The breakwater side of the line was favoured so we gained 200 metres on the boats closer to the pin and then gradually pulled away,” Griffith said. “Then at the end of the race we got home before the wind shut out.”
Letchford said the Pittwater-based crew enjoyed the passage racing format that epitomises the laid-back Commodores Cup. “We’ve won an IRC State Championship here at Sail Port Stephens but this was our first Commodores Cup. It was like being in the tropics without having to travel a couple of thousand miles,” Letchford added.
At the finish Showtime was seven minutes clear of its nearest rival, Toy Story. The Farr 44 Seahawk (Pete & Drew Van Ryn) from Cronulla grabbed second place on PHS in Division 1 from Warwick Miller’s well-sailed Beneteau First 50 Lumiere.
It was a similar story for Dennis Cooper’s Amante (CYCA), with the Sydney 36 managing to hold off the Sydney 38 Austral across the line.
“We were a bit late to the start because I misjudged the tide, but we hit the lead in our fleet after a few hundred metres and never looked back,” Cooper said. “From our point of view, it was absolutely perfect. That boat just loves going to windward in that weight of breeze [12 knots] and we took full advantage.”