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Crowd pleaser: Entries and the Notice of Race for the 2018 Sail Port Stephens Race Week have now gone online as organisers anticipate another highly successful regatta for 9 -15 April.

The popularity of last year's 10th anniversary regatta is projected to provide a significant springboard for entries, with close to one thousand competitors expected aboard a plethora of sailing craft--from large racing, cruising and sports yachts, to junior dinghies and Sailability vessels.

Included are the Australian Sports Boat Association (ASBA) national titles, the NSW IRC Championship with Rolex Sydney-Hobart winner Ichi Ban set to compete, and the Super 12s state titles, adding to the iconic Commodore's Cup series and Performance Racing and Cruising Divisions for the Pantaenius Port Stephens Trophy.

The Women Who Sail Australia (WWSA) group held its first "Gathering on the Bay" as an entree to last year's Sail Port Stephens and they are also planning to return.

A Junior One-Sail dinghy division remains a satellite event in the first week of the holidays, being sailed out of the Port Stephens Aquatic Club at Salamander Bay.

The 16-Footers are also coming for the first ever Keg Run regatta on 21-22 April as part of Port Stephens Council's 'Season of Sailing' promotion. To the winners go six kegs of beer as a way of letting their hair down.

It's believed to be the first time that the ASBA nationals have been held at the same venue consecutively. The regatta location is central to the Sydney boating scene and convenient for Queensland and Victorian sailors.

In 2017, a fleet of 21 sports boats enjoyed the challenging three-day series with variable weather conditions, from light to gusty winds. Word of mouth should ensure another competitive fleet in 2018.

Current champion Andrew York will be back to defend his title aboard REO Speedwagon with the same crew from 2017--including 16-year-old Newcastle sailor Felix Prince. The boat remains unchanged, unusually for a development class, but York is confident it still has the speed.

Other familiar faces include Graham Sherring, the 2016 Queensland champion who will return with mostly the same crew on board his modified Leech 750 Retuned.

The region's three major marinas--d'Albora Marina Nelson Bay, The Anchorage and Soldiers Point Marina--all reach berthing capacity quickly, so competitors are advised to book well in advance. sailportstephens.com.au

Caption: PARADISE POINT REO Speedwagon will return to Sail Port Stephens in 2018.

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Title Annotation:RACE & REGATTA PREVIEW
Publication:Offshore Yachting
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Feb 1, 2018
Words:368
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