Classic to return


THE push is on to ensure the last-minute switch to an alternative event in this year's Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race doesn't harm the long-term future and public profile of the warm water classic.

After poor weather kept the fleet away from the northern port for the first time in the race's 27-year history, a series of meetings in coming weeks will allow officials to debrief and plan a comeback strategy.

'B52' crew member Garry Innes, who doubles as a director of Coffs Harbour Yacht Club, said he'd be urging his organisation to move sooner rather than later on getting the event back into public consciousness.

"As quickly as possible we need to re-assure the community the race will be back in 2009 and it can't be left until the last few weeks leading up to the race," he said.

"It's become so important as a signature event and a lot of residents aren't aware how well known out of town it is."

Local Yacht Club Commodore, Darren Digney, has already started the ball rolling.

Addressing members of Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club at the awards presentation for the altered series he vowed a bigger staging next January, weather permitting.

"Everyone will just need to eat and drink twice as much next year," Digney quipped.

"It's affected a lot of people but the right decision was made, safety for competitors is the key.

"From the volunteers who hand out the box of beer and the bunch of bananas, right through to the mayor's office, we're disappointed and will welcome you again with open arms."

'B52' arrived home on Monday and will spend the coming weeks with co-owners Steve Brown and Paul D'Olier at Holiday Coast Yachting as the training base for prospective ocean-racing mariners.

As well as finishing second on handicap in their division of the main event, 'B52' won a lead up event in the Pittwater series.

This is the best result by a local entrant this decade and only ranks behind 25-race veteran Ray Benson, who took out the handicap with 'Booze Bus' in 1984 before winning line hours aboard 'Vendetta' in 1993.

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