Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race record ?could go
By GREG WHITE
THE cannon will boom across Sydney's northern beaches today at noon sending a fleet of 60 boats up the eastern coastline in the 26th Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race.
While most eyes will focus on Hobart-winner Wild Oats XI, crewman aboard local entry B52, Garry Innes, said the race for line honours is wide open with several yachts performing above expectations in the preliminary off shore series.
"Pretty Woman, Second Time Around and Crossings, are all in with big chances," Innes said.
"A couple of other boats have also shown promise but we don't always know what their names are.
"Usually, we only refer to them as 'that boat with the white sail' or the 'X boat'.
"And of course we also give ourselves a fighting chance of winning."
Darren Digney, skipper of the other local entry Coffs Harbour Quest believes race favourite Wild Oats XI could easily smash the race record if conditions are favourable.
The record of 18 hours 29 minutes 14 seconds was set by sister-vessel Wild Oats X in 2003 after the fabled mark held by The Office had stood for almost two decades.
"If she had a big southerly behind her she could make it to Coffs in eight-10 hours," he said.
"That wouldn't be smashing the winning time ? it would be destroying it. She could cover the distance quicker than coming by road."
But realistically, breathtaking times seem unlikely with more gentle north-easters forecast.
With the first boat expected to reach Coffs Harbour in the early hours of tomorrow morning, the fleet will rest before the offshore series resumes around the Solitary Islands at week's end.