Ocean Classic deadline to be extended

WITH a strong fleet of 58 yachts already entered for the start of the 27th Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Offshore Race, race organisers have agreed to extend the entry deadline until December 14 as more entries are expected due to a flood of enquiries in recent days.

The provisional close of entries was Saturday but prospective entrants have now been given the extra fortnight for the race that is now firmly entrenched on the yachting calendar.

"Entries have been flooding in the past week along with a large number of enquiries via email and phone, so we've made the decision to extend the deadline to coincide with the last day for correcting documentation," Race Director Chris Stone said.

"This will allow those competitors the time to enter and get all their documentation together. It will make for a bigger and better race."

With the start of the 27th Pittwater to Coffs race only four weeks away, the 58 yachts from more than a dozen yacht clubs entered to date, just pips the number of entrants that started the race nearly 12 months ago. It is now anticipated that at least 65 yachts will assemble on the start line for the 'warm water' classic starting off Barrenjoey Headland, after the New Year's hangovers have cleared.

Three Mumm 30's, 'Immigrant' from the Port Curtis Sailing Club in Queensland and 'Cleopatra' and 'K2', both from the Sandringham Yacht Club in Melbourne, at 9.43m will be the smallest boats in the fleet with the John Santifort 'Carats 'n' Kilos', a Hick 31 at 9.45m not far behind.

At the other end of the fleet, the battle for line honours at this stage will come from four big boats.

Bob Oatley's Reichel Pugh 66 'Wild Oats X', the 2005 06 winner to be skippered by Mark Richards will again be pre-race favourites.

Trying hard to wrest the title from Oatley's team will be Roger Sturgeon's STP65 'Rosebud' from the USA's Lauderdale Yacht Club and the MDB66 custom 'Scooter' now owned by Steve Zaphin.

She will be racing under the name 'Spirit of Queensland', to be skippered by Peter Harburg.

This yacht was formerly Sean Langman's AAPT Xena-Grundig, the winner in 2001-02.

Rounding out the quartet of larger boats is the 2006 overall series winner Reichel Pugh 60 'Wild Joe', owned by Steven David.

Together, this foursome will be out to break the record of 18 hours 29 minutes if conditions suit.

Bob Oatley and his 'Wild Oats' franchise have won line honours in this event for four of the past five years and will be keen to retain the Line Honours Bell in his trophy cabinet.

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