• Di von Essen

Newcastle Sailfest Regatta - Cancelled Until Further Notice*


Being named Australian Sailing’s National Sailing Club of the Year in 2019 was an unprecedented honour for a regional entity with a relatively young history, but one that the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (NCYC) has since taken in its stride.

That’s because the club, based on the Wickham waterfront in Hannell Street, has an ongoing objective of developing and promoting the sport of sailing in Newcastle, and maintaining its welcoming approach and hospitable charm to both “old salts” and those new to sailing.

The sight of colourful spinnakers straining against a sea breeze has been transformative for the city’s cosmopolitan tourism and lifestyle image, while further reinforcing our reputation as a leader in sporting centres.

Nowhere is this better demonstrated than the annual Newcastle SailFest Regatta, a celebration of all things sail – both on the Harbour and off the beaches. Dates for 2020 are April 17–19.

Port Hunter 16ft Skiff Sailing Club gets in on the action with the historic Cock of the Harbour race that heralds the fastest sailing vessel on Newcastle Harbour and remains one of the oldest trophies in Australian sailing. Skiffs, in fact, have sailed at Port Hunter since 1913.

SailFest serendipitously brings together a smorgasbord of offshore racers, 16-foot skiffs, off-the-beach performance classes, Lasers and more. Families can also participate in a Try-Sailing experience in the sheltered waters of Throsby Basin, Carrington. This initiative is free and will give budding sailors (ages 6+) the opportunity to learn a new skill aboard one of sea breeze Tackers dinghies. The club is also planning to bring in some adult-training dinghies along with stand-up paddleboards.

Lifejackets and instructors will be available from 10am to 2pm on both weekend days during SailFest. The headline act of SailFest is the TP52 Gold Cup that attracts a star-studded fleet of entries… many of which competed in the recent Sydney-Hobart yacht race. It’s the hottest TP52 showdown outside Europe’s 52 Super Series.

Marcus Blackmore, skipper of Hooligan and chief executive of the vitamin company bearing his surname, agrees: “With so many boats in Newcastle, all fairly equally matched for speed, I reckon it will be another fantastic sight. There’ll be a few hard-hats needed as we all get to the top buoy at around the same time,” he said. “The Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club will really look after us as well.” The Harbour presents a perfect amphitheatre for sailing and spectating, allowing visitors to stroll the Foreshore and watch everything from dinghy sailing and model yachts to Olympic class boats and skiffs in the Honeysuckle Basin, and TP52s and ocean racing directly off Newcastle Beach.

The precinct becomes the Sail Village for the duration of SailFest, with Laser and team match-racing competitions conducted in close view. Spectators at Honeysuckle Hotel, many clutching a cool ale, get to cheer the intense action.

The 2020 Sailfest Newcastle Regatta is being supported by the City of Newcastle and Transport NSW. For more details visit www.ncyc.net.au/sail-fest, www.porthunter.skiffclub.net or Facebook: NewcastleCruisingYachtClub. Contact sailing@ncyc.net.au or 4940 8188.

Words: Mark Rothfield

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