Wild Oats Xl set to miss race

ORGANISERS of the upcoming 30th Pittwater to Coffs Harbour yacht race have had their hopes of a last-minute entry by the fastest boat in the world dashed by the weather.

It was hoped that last year’s line honours winner Wild Oats XI would make a last-minute entry into the 226-nautical-mile warm water classic but an unfavourable long-range weather forecast has put an end to those thoughts.

The Coffs Harbour and Royal Prince Alfred yacht clubs were praying for a strong northerly breeze to be blowing for the Sydney to Hobart race so the Bob Oatley-owned Wild Oats XI would have enough time to finish the renowned race and then turn around and return to Sydney in time for the Pittwater start on January 2.

It was a task completed by skipper Mark Richards and his crew in both 2007 and 2010 with the world famous Maxi completing the Hobart/Coffs double the first time around.

A fast run to Hobart and possibly a crack at the race record appears off the menu for the ocean mauler now, but the ingredients are there for a wet and fairly wild race south in the 66th edition of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart.

A long-range forecast for the great Australian race, which starts on Sunday, is for a ‘traditional’ Hobart rather than a record-breaking run down the NSW coast across Bass Strait and to the finish line in the Derwent River.

While the forecast is yet to be cast in stone, it is predicted the fleet will face a bit of everything as they journey south – from rain, to fast running, stomach-churning upwind sailing and even fickle winds at the race end.

A long range forecast for the race north to Coffs Harbour is yet to come in.

The upcoming sprint from Pittwater to Coffs Harbour has 57 confirmed starters, an increase on the fleet of 48 in the race at the start of this year.

While Wild Oats XI is not making the trek to the Coffs Coast, less-than-favourable conditions in the Hobart run may see the size of the fleet swell with late entries by boats and crews hoping for an easier time on the water.

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