Big field entered in Pittwater to Coffs

A FLEET of 61 yachts has been confirmed for the start of the 2009 Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Offshore race.

Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club Commodore Russell Murphy believes the healthy sized field can in part be attributed to last year's race having to be amended due to the inclement conditions.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder, having missed out on getting to Coffs last year,” he said.

“We're hoping the weather Gods will deliver better conditions for the race and we can't wait to get to Coffs in the New Year.

“The launch at the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club and the announcement by the Department of Lands to dredge the marina entrance last Friday was welcomed with the customary hospitality by the Coffs locals, volunteers and media, so we're all set to go.”

One of the first entries received and the largest yacht in the fleet is Matthew Short's TP 52 Short Wave, who will come into the race as line honours favourite and a contender to take out the handicap double.

Previous owner of the Farr 40 Short Shipped, Matthew acquired Short Wave in April this year.

Optimised for IRC offshore racing, their first offshore race with the TP52 was the 2008 Southport race where they placed fourth overall and fourth on divisional handicap.

It will be a family affair for the Short family with just about every member of the crew somehow related including Matthew's wife Christine, daughters and extended family all part of the team.

This will be Short's eighth Coffs race and the third as a family.

“We're really looking forward to the Coffs race, it's a fantastic mid-distance offshore race and it's a great family event,” Short said.

“My wife used to drive up to meet me in Coffs when the kids were young but now they're with me all the way, either up the bow or up the mast and we enjoy sailing together.”

The Short family are aware that they have been named as line-honours favourites but the skipper's comments on the issue were more cautious than optimistic.

“We'll be out there battling and will give it our best shot,” he said.

“We'll be hoping for the breeze across the beam but it should be fun and we can't wait to get there.”

One thing that is for sure is that there will be plenty of action down on the docks in Coffs Harbour for locals as the fleet will be closely bunched as they cross the finish line.

The local sailing fraternity is sure to be out in force to barrack home their home town entrants B52, a Sydney 41 and Overdrive, a Northshore 380.



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