Sail Port Stephens 2024

Published Mon 13 May 2024

The J/70 fleet joined the Sail Port Stephens Bay Series for the second year attracting boats nine boats from Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Racing began on Friday for the J70s with three windward-leewards being completed in an 8-knot sou’easter.  The fleet included Sam Haynes (Celestial) and David Doherty (Matador) who’d contested the Sail Port Stephens NSW Yachting Championships and TP52 Gold Cup the prior weekend. The new owners of the J/70 Skyhook Matthew O'Brien/Simon Pluim, and Tony Langren's Sequel both from Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron tackled the drive north from Victoria.

Celestial finished the opening day on 4pts, two ahead of Matador.  3rd overall at the end of day one was Bryan Northcote’s Jedi.


Saturday only one race could be sailed as the wind petered out.  Matador pulled a point back on Celestial with a brilliant win in fading airs.

Sunday’s conditions were wet and wild in complete contrast, bringing both wind and lashing rain to test the fleet.  Over all Celestial edged out Matador by a solitary point, with Southport’s Gary Holt third. 


“I really enjoy sailing both the TPs and the J70s,” Haynes said. “My TP is set up more for ocean racing and I’ve been doing quite a lot of the one-design J70 ahead of travelling to the European Championships with a Corinthian team.

“We’re then doing the Corinthian Worlds, so it’s good to get back into the class before that campaign. It was a really testing regatta but we performed pretty well and just managed to hold on against Matador. Nine boats is a good fleet and I think this is a great venue.”

Gary Holt was one of three sailors to complete every race of the Sail Port Stephens three-part regatta, buying a J70 immediately after the Windward-Leeward series to extend his stay.

“I’d been thinking about a J70 program and [yacht manager] Mitch White found me one that wasn’t officially for sale,” Holt explained. “Then I found out the J70s were coming to Sail Port Stephens, so I said to Mitch ‘we’ll buy it now’!”

Holt had skiff and 49er ace Harry Price among his crew, along with Harry Miller and Jack Acton.

“I’ve had a great time here, except for today – I’ve never been so cold in my life – but I never expected to be on the podium in my first series. I bought the boat to qualify for the world championships in Argentina in 2025; we’re also doing the Long Beach regatta in June.”


Joining the J/70’s up at Port Stephens also was the Australian Sports Boat Association (ASBA) competing for its NSW titles.  Saturday and Sunday also saw 65 dinghies, representing the Finns, RS Aeros and OK dinghies along with a mixed fleet of International Canoes, B14s, 5o5s, scow Moths and more.

Anemology’s skipper Kim Ketelby said “It was a great Regatta despite the weather and a  wonderful experience for Anemology.  The Comradery was fabulous at the boat yard and also thanks to Sara & Megan from Jabiru organising of 50 of us all for dinner.”

Dates for the 2025 Sail Port Stephens have been announced, with the Passage Series running March 31-April 5, the Windward-Leeward Series 25-27 April and the Bay Series 2-4 May.

Results HERE

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