The Newcastle foreshore will be brought to life this weekend as the City of Newcastle, in conjunction with the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, gets set to host the second qualifying leg of the Sailing Champions League – Asia Pacific.
With a total of 12 teams entered from several clubs across New South Wales and Queensland, the event will be a thrill for local spectators as racing takes place out front of the Honeysuckle Hotel, right in the heart of Newcastle.
This weekend’s event signals a much-anticipated return for the popular “rock-up-and-race” format in the Sailing Champions League’s northern zone, which was successfully launched in Australia over the last couple seasons.
It also follows a successful first qualifying event at Melbourne’s Mornington Yacht Club in early February, which saw the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania finish as the overall winner and first qualifier for the Asia Pacific final in April.
Event director Mark Turnbull said he was thrilled to be able to get SCL racing back to Newcastle for the Northern Qualifier, which would give competitors an exciting race track in full view for the local community.
He said the format was focused on being fast, fun and spectator-friendly, and was run entirely with supplied equipment.
“The racing will be run in a tight, fast format really close to shore, which makes it extremely appealing to the sailors because it’s cut-throat and they get a lot of racing in, but it’s also very appealing for the spectators as well.”
“This weekend is a regional qualifier for our club-versus-club championship, where sailors go head-to-head on a level playing field – it doesn’t matter whether they’re from an off-the-beach club down the coast or a large club with a big marina, they race on equal footing.”
A new stipulation in this season’s events which proved to be very successful in the first event at Mornington is the mandating of mixed teams with each boat required to have at least two males and two females on board.
Mooloolaba Yacht Club sailor Tanya Kelly, who has brought together a team of talented sailors from her Queensland-based club, will race this weekend and is looking for a strong showing.
“We had entered last year and COVID scuppered that one, so we didn’t end up making our way down, but we had in our minds that we wanted to compete so when it came up again we had a think about it and Mooloolaba said we could put in a competitive team,” she said.
“The club-versus-club thing is pretty appealing, both for the club but also for us, and also the fact that its got an international progression beyond this regatta, you can see it building over the years to progress through the various events.”
Other teams include two from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, which looks hopeful to be a strong force in this event, having won the first season of the Sailing Champions League – Asia Pacific back in 2019 and then going on to win the global Sailing Champions League event later that year, stating their claim as the best yacht club in the world.
There will be three local teams from the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, made up of a mixture of senior and youth sailors, who will also be looking for a strong showing on their home waters sailing under the NCYC banner.