No power, but sailing a breeze for Nicholson

NEWS flash! Superboat syndicate 222 Offshore has joined the sponsorship ranks for the Sail Port Stephens regatta starting Monday at Nelson Bay.

It’s the exemplar of powerboating muscle marrying his gentle sailing mistress, where once ne’er the twain would meet.Think Hatfield son kissing a McCoy daughter …

But, of course, 222 pilot Darren Nicholson has always had a soft spot for yachting. As a tacker he skippered Pelicans and 16-Foot skiffs on Belmont Bay and teamed with younger brother Chris to win a 505 world title.

Driving high-powered raceboats at breakneck speeds is a more recent pursuit and Nicholson is hoping to win over a new legion of fans from sailing’s ranks with his participation at Sail Port Stephens.

His company Hunter Parking and Storage is also aboard to present one of the most dynamic and panoramic days on the NSW boating calendar, with on- and off-water regatta action reaching a crescendo for ‘Super Saturday’, April 16.

This year sees the debut of a Broughton Island passage race, a 26 nautical mile lap of the pristine islands off Port Stephens, as part of the NSW IRC Championship and Port Stephens Trophy.

Also new, Sail Port Stephens has linked with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) to raise vital funds for brain cancer research, honouring regatta mentor Roger Hickman who succumbed recently to a brain tumour.

The HMRI Cup will now be presented annually for the Broughton Island Passage Race and proceeds from the ‘End-of-Season Sailebration’ evening at Broughtons at the Bay function centre will be donated to HMRI.

“The faster yachts will have a chance to ‘stretch their legs’ and the race track will also offer unique challenges for the tacticians,” says Sail Port Stephens Regatta Director Geoff Campbell.

“Because Hicko loved his offshore sailing, it’s a good way for us to acknowledge the support he provided when our club was establishing the regatta.”

A top-quality IRC fleet is assembling for the State title, including TP52 heavyweights Balance, Ichi Ban, Koa and Celestial along with the DK46 pairing of Nine Dragons and Khaleesi. Queensland sailor Peter Harburg is bringing his smaller Black Jack Too.

Two feeder races begin this weekend, with Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club holding the Pittwater-Newcastle race tomorrow from 10am then Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club staging the Newcastle-Port Stephens dash on Sunday.

The second race is the perfect opportunity for Sydney crews to get a feel for what Lake Macquarie and Newcastle’s sailing communities will bring to the table at Sail Port Stephens. So far 32 yachts representing a good spread of clubs are registered for the 10am start.

“Similar to previous years the Newcastle to Port Stephens coastal dash includes the ability to conduct a unique rolling start whereby, if wind conditions require it, the race committee will instruct the fleet to start motoring towards Port Stephens until such time as they deem there to be enough wind to start the race,” NCYC CEO Aaron Harpham says.

TOP CONTENDER: Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club entrant Anger Management which will be leading the charge across Stockton Bite on Sunday.

STILL TIME TO ENTER: A Melges 24 sports boat – the door is still open to divisional entries.

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