Sparkling win

Skipper John Santifort relaxes with his crew aboard Carats N Kilos after completing the Pittwatter to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race and claiming the PHS division title.
Skipper John Santifort relaxes with his crew aboard Carats N Kilos after completing the Pittwatter to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race and claiming the PHS division title. DAMIAN DEVINE

ANYONE who believed the old adage that size matters certainly forgot to tell the crew of Carats N Kilos.

The smallest boat in the fleet enjoyed a dream run up the coast in the 30th Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race to claim the overall prize in the Performance Based Handicapping Systems (PHS) division.

Skipper John Santifort was thrilled with the victory but revealed reaching Coffs Harbour much earlier than expected created its own problems.

With his hotel room booked for the next day, Santifort didn’t have a bed for himself or crew when he arrived so had to find alternate accommodation for the night. His boat was too small to sleep the crew of six.

“We’re absolutely ecstatic with the win, particularly being the smallest boat in the fleet,” Santifort said after claiming the overall PHS division by more than two hours ahead of Second Time Around and The Real Thing.

“We were excited to just be hanging in there with some of the 40 footers.

“At a critical time in the race we had just dropped the spinnaker before the big puff that sent quite a few boats into a scramble and into retirement.

“Was it a good tactical decision or was it sheer good fortune?”

Stantifort admitted that having the wind at their backs for the majority of the race was a massive factor in claiming the prize.

“I’ve done this race many times and normally it’s beating into the wind, on the nose and into the current, so it’s always tough going for us but when it was a southerly all the way I knew we had half a chance,” he said.

“The Gods were on our side in this race.

“We’re just on a high at the moment with our victory.”

The race committee made the decision this year to include a new division to allow shorthanded sailors (crews of three or less) the opportunity to race the 226- nautical-mile ‘warm water’ ocean race making the race one of the few offshore events in Australia for these committed sailors.

Not being able to afford to let up for one minute in the testing conditions during the race, these sailors earned the respect of the rest of the fleet in the Coffs race, as they didn’t have the luxury of additional crew.

They were easy to spot at the yacht club following the race as they were exhausted after hours of extremely hard work.

The retirement of shorthanded favourite Future Shock on the first night due to a broken masthead halyard turned the division into a Queensland affair.

Jennifer Fitzgibbon, from the Manly Yacht Club and Mooloolaba Yacht Club, won the inaugural division with crew Warren Pidgeon on board her Sayer 10.6 Soothsayer. They sailed in 90 minutes ahead of OutsideEdge.

Father/daughter combination Rick and Penny Morgan on Dream Lover finished third.

“We are very excited, we had a good time and it’s such a good race,” an exhausted Fitzgibbon said.

“It got very rough at times and we had a bit on but the boat loves these conditions, it loves to get up and surf.

“At one stage in the race we had 38 knots across the stern with just the main up and managed to pass seven boats which was pleasing.

“At other times we had the masthead kite up and were having a ball. So we’re absolutely thrilled with the win.”

The five-race offshore series concludes this afternoon with a massive prize-giving ceremony at Coffs Harbour Yacht Club.

Today’s racing around the Solitary Islands is scheduled to get under way at 11am with winds of 15 knots from the south-west building into a 20-25 knot south/south-westerly in the afternoon forecast.