Sails to fly on Coffs Harbour yacht race
ORGANISERS of the reborn Newport Coffs Coast Yacht Race are looking to double their fleet size this year.
Launching the December 27 event today, the Royal Motor Yacht Club dubbed the warm water classic 'the right race, to the right place, at the right time'.
Race Director Rob Brown OAM said there was great potential to rebuild entry numbers on the 42 vessels and more than 400 sailors, who took part in the event's first year.
As development manager for race hosts, Royal Motor Yacht Club Broken Bay, he called on all coastal club and cruiser-racer sailors to consider competing.
"If you do only one ocean race this year, make it this one," Brown said.
"At 230 nautical miles, it's a great length and you get to finish in a beachside resort town that's in full family holiday swing.
Since its maiden run in 1981 with a fleet of 14 yachts, the costal dash from Pittwater to Coffs has been fondly regarded as a fun, friendly, warm-water alternative to the Rolex Sydney-Hobart.
It was conceived by recreational sailor Max Tunbridge, while competing in a race that rounded South Solitary Island, then returned to Sydney without stopping at arguably NSW's best coastal harbour.
At its peak the Coffs race lured up to 120 entrants among them Apollo, Ragamuffin, Wild Oats XI and Hong Kong's Beu Geste.
However disaster befell the event, when the Coffs Harbour marina was storm damaged during an East Coast Low in 2016, leading to the creation of the Pittwater to Paradise Yacht Race - now finishing on the Gold Coast - while the Coffs Marina was repaired.
RMYC Broken Bay in association with the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club then forged a new partnership to reinstate the iconic event to the national sailing calendar with Pantaenius Sail and Motor stepping in as a major sponsor.
The 2017 Newport to Coffs Coast Yacht Race then started on a new date of December 27 with 12 entries.
Brown said today the club was making a long-term commitment to Coffs Harbour given the amount of planning and investment the club is sinking into the 2018 race.
"This is the second year that Royal Motor Yacht Broken Bay has been involved and we're got a goal to try and restore this race to its former glory," he said.
"It's not a 12-month plan it's probably a five-10 year plan as long as we get the support and the increased entries."
CHYC Commodore Garry Innes said the event's rise was positive news for Coffs Harbour.
"It's not just the race, it's about being in Coffs Harbour and enjoying what it has to offer," Innes said.
"The commitment is we want to keep on doing this, it's not just three years and see you later let's build it and create something great for the people who loving racing and the people of Coffs Harbour.
"There's something planned every day to create a buzz around the club precinct, starting with a race barbecue on December 29 followed by a civic reception and presentation evening on the 30th.
"We'll celebrate New Year's Eve with a fun race starting at 1pm, then fireworks lighting up the waterfront.
The race record stands at 18-hours and the event is conducted under Safety Category 3 Plus, making it affordable and accessible for a broader range of yachts.
"Competitors only need to have a VHF radio and a satellitte phone for communications, not a High Frequency radio," Brown said.
He said the race appeals to skippers and crews who like to sail over the Christmas break yet aren't up for competing in the Sydney-Hobart and Pittwater-Southport because of safety equipment requirements, cost and time constraints.
At the same time, it's close enough for family and friends to pack their beach gear and golf clubs and drive up the coast, he said.
RMYC Broken Bay Commodore Chris Lee said the focus in the second year of the race was to build on the fleet through increased entries.
"The southerly currents provide many challenges for crews and that means hugging the coast," he said.
"The upshot is that they will experience some pictureque beaches and coastline all the way to Coffs Harbour.
"We are pleased to be working with Coffs Harbour Yacht Club once again and look forward to their wonderful reception when the yachts finish and settle in at their berth at Coffs Harbour Marina.
NCCYR sponsors include Road Tech Marine, B&G, Robert Oatley Wines and Musto.