Locals out to win Coffs yacht race
WHILE most attention is focused on the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race starting on Boxing Day, preparations continue for the 30th staging of that other great yachting adventure.
The fleet in the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race will face the starter’s gun off Barenjoey Headland at 1pm on January 2, and already the berths at Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club are starting to fill.
While the “will she-won’t she” saga surrounding Bob Oatley’s pair Wild Oats X and XI is likely to continue until the southbound fleet arrives in Hobart, the other main focus of the race is on her way down from Hamilton Island.
Queenslander Bruce Absolon and his glamour Volvo 60 Nikon Spirit of the Maid have an illustrious history in the Volvo Round the World Race and a trio of Coffs-based crew members will be aboard trying to win their hometown classic.
She previously raced in Australia as Nokia, Magnavox, Ten and Ericsson and is named in honour of Absolon’s previous noted racer Ausmaid.
The boat finished fifth to Coffs at the beginning of the year and returns with a sense of deja vu for the 30th staging.
“I will have three crew members from the Coffs club who competed in the first running of the race back in 1981 in Ray Benson, Past Commodore Craig Chisholm and Mark Doran, so it should be nostalgic for them,” Absolon said.
“We’re all really looking forward to the race and series around the islands.
“We have had such a great time for the past couple of years and wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Coffs Harbour Yacht Club kicks off festivities with a Blues, Beach and Bikini Party next Monday, followed by the Biggest New Year’s Eve event on the coast.
On shore in coming weeks the club will present rolling entertainment, movies on the beach and a one-off charity performance by David Helfgott.