Big boys' toys
By CRAIG McTEAR
STEVE Brown, Paul D'Olier and Darren Digney are Coffs Harbour boys who will take their 'big' toys to play with the 'big' boys in one of Australia's popular ocean-racing events.
Steve Brown and co-owner/skipper Paul D'Olier, and owner/skipper DarrenDigney are the local hopefuls in the prestigious 24th Strathfield Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race which starts on January 2.
The race and associated series has developed into one of the most popular events of its type in the nation.
Mr Brown and Mr D'Olier have Harbour Design Homes B52, a Sydney 41 which they bought specifically for the big race and for use at their Holiday Coast Yachting School.
They will have up to 10 aboard during the race and they have high expectations.
"We're hoping to finish in the top 20," Mr Brown said.
"The boat has done quite a few Sydney to Hobarts."
Mr Digney will be at the helm of Mistress Again, a Farr 11.04 which has also contested several Sydney-to-Hobart races.
"She's 20 years old now and was very successful when she was a new boat," he said.
"We'll be competing in our division and we're going in the race to take some local people on board.
"There will be some who have done it before and some who haven't. I figure we'll have about eight on board."
A top-class fleet of more than 60 boats will negotiate a new course, which means a new race record no matter what the race conditions will be like.
The race is extended from the traditional 226 nautical miles by about eight miles, with a seaward mark a couple of miles north-east of Barrenjoey and another rounding mark off Palm Beach.
The facilities of the Coffs Harbour International Marina will be maximised as usual to handle the demand on berths when the fleet arrives, while the city council is negotiating with local boat owners who may want to temporarily relocate their vessels.