Entries roll in for yacht race
WITH little more than one month remaining before entries into the 30th Pittwater to Coffs Harbour yacht race close, numbers are on the up for the warm-water classic.
Race organisers are expecting a large fleet to assemble at the start line on January 2 with plenty of regulars among the competition.
Included in the entry list is 2010 PHS series winner Jayhawk.
Skippered by Robert Alder, the J35 is currently the smallest entrant in the fleet.
Alder is excited about the 30th anniversary race given it will be his 10th race to Coffs as well as having a PHS series title to defend.
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Alder said.
“This race is ideal for the J35, the distance of this race provides the crew with two days of sailing with one and a half to two nights at sea, which is just right for us.
“The race itself is an extremely tactical race bringing you right in close to the coast with land and sea breezes to pick and currents to contend with so there are many decisions to be made along the way.
“We’re racing from the back of the fleet invariably, which has its advantages and disadvantages.”
Alder said the event was a popular one on the yachting calendar.
“It’s the warm-water alternative going to a great destination where you can enjoy with family and friends a couple of days of excellent racing off Coffs Harbour,” he said.
“You also get to enjoy New Year’s Eve in Sydney with family to watch the fireworks on Pittwater or the Harbour and follow that up with the race. It’s just a great way to start the New Year.”
It is expected that Bob Oatley’s 100 foot Wild Oats XI, skippered by Mark Richards, will make the return trip from Hobart, as they did last year.
She took line honours in the race last year and at the time Richards vowed he would be back to celebrate the event’s 30th anniversary.
The Wild Oats franchise has claimed line honours in five of the past eight Pittwater to Coffs Harbour races, a feat achieved with three different boats including Wild Oats IX that set the race record of 18 hours 29 minutes 14 seconds in 2003.
Other entries for the warm-water classic include the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s trio of Quest, skippered by Bob Steel, Matthew Short’s Judel Vrolik 52 Short Wave and Julian Farren-Price’s Cookson 12 and 2009 series winner About Time.
Bruce Absolon’s Volvo 60 Spirit of the Maid will make the trek down from Hamilton Island, while the MHYC Bob Cox-skippered Northshore 369 Nine Dragons, that finished fourth IRC overall in the 2010 race, and five-time Coffs entrant King Billy, skippered by the RSYS’s Philip Bennett, are expected to again do well.
Already the Beneteau 40’s are framing their own race within a race with David Boekemann on Bombolo, Lake Macquarie Yacht Club entrant Graham Hall’s Closely Halled and Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club competitor John Turnbull aboard Reverie all expected to be among the handicap contenders.
With the Shorthanded division recently being announced, some extra interest has been added to the race.
Record holding solo circumnavigator of Australia Ian Thompson will be racing with his small crew on his Wellbourne, SOS Racing, alongside Jennifer Fitzgibbon and Soothsayer.
Both will make the trip down from Queensland for the race.
The Coffs race and series, due to its location, is promoted as a family friendly event and in 2011 in addition to the busy on-water racing activity there is plenty planned off water for partners and children including day coach trips to Dorrigo National Park, the Northern hinterland and to Bellingen to see the sights visiting art, craft and historic landmarks along the way.
The Category Two event, the 226 nautical mile Coffs Harbour race is part of a five-race series with four races being contested in Coffs Harbour on January 5 and 6.
A final flurry of entries is expected in the coming weeks.