Dry weather and classic summer sea breezes for classic race
WHEN the cannon fires to herald the start of this year's Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour yacht race, the fleet 28 setting off can expect a straightforward race north.
The Bureau of Meteorology's long range outlook indicates dry weather and classic summer sea breezes.
Senior forecaster Michael Logan says a high pressure system sitting over the Tasman Sea and ridge extending up to the Queensland coast means crews can expect the best of the pressure off the Hunter and southern Mid North Coast and lighter breezes towards the finish at Coffs Harbour.
"The forecast is showing a light southerly change moving through the Sydney area on start morning which will leave us with a weakening easterly before a light sea breeze starts to push in. By the start time there should be an ENE wind at 10 knots," Logan said.
"As the fleet gets into open water they'll find a bit more wind tending to the NE, close to the Hunter they might find 15-20 knots later in the afternoon.
"Nor-easterly winds are the pattern for the race. Weaker in the morning, especially around dawn then fresher in the afternoon. Crews may run into the odd afternoon shower but generally it's looking dry."
The start of the warm-water classic at 1pm will see the giant multihull Team Australia start as the warmest of favourites to collect line honours.
ISAF Rolex Male World Sailor of the Year and two-time winning America's Cup skipper, James Spithill, will inject plenty of know-how into the already talented pool of drivers on Team Australia.
In Australia for Christmas with his family, Spithill is on a break from his Oracle Team USA helmsman duties and "keeping his hand in".
He joined Jim Clark's USA supermaxi Comanche that placed second over the line to Wild Oats XI in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart and this afternoon the Pittwater sailing prodigy returns to the discipline of multihull racing that has made him a household name.
"I've been a fan of Sean's for a long time, I love it that he takes it on," Spithill said.
"He's going from one extreme to the other, going south on the smallest boat then jumping on the quickest boat in Australia.
"I've done a fair bit of sailing on the ORMA 60s off the coast of Brittany. I'm pumped to come off Comanche, the latest and greatest monohull design, and step on an ORMA racing out of my home club.
"It's cool to see the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club leading the drive to include multihulls. It's only a matter of time before I think there will be a multihull division in a lot more races, including the Sydney to Hobart."