By GREG WHITE
FOR the first time in its 27-year history the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race has been cancelled and a shorter standby event substituted in its place.
A joint meeting at 8am yesterday between the Commodores of Royal Prince Alfred and Coffs Harbour Yacht Clubs, Angus Gordon and Darren Digney, race crews and specialist advisors, decided offshore conditions along the Eastern seaboard were already too dangerous for the warm water classic to proceed without waiting for the expected further deterioration in conditions.
"Information from authorities including the Bureau of Meteorology, Water Police and New South Wales Maritime over the last few days and re-enforced again earlier today means we reluctantly advise the alternate race will go ahead due to severe weather conditions on the North Coast," Commodore Gordon announced.
"Conditions will deteriorate sooner than expected and it would be reckless to start the race with the information to hand predicting breaking waves across the entrance to Coffs Harbour making it extremely dangerous to enter.
"Additionally, there will be no port to enter north of Newcastle in case boats need to retire."
The low pressure system off the South East Queensland Coast is predicted to intensify throughout tonight with swells peaking above five metres.
This is precisely when the majority of the fleet would be nearing the finish line and attempting to enter the port precincts of Coffs Harbour.
"Safety of competitors is our priority and an alternate race is our only option," Gordon added.