Record in reach for Wild Oats X

THEY’RE off and racing.

Under clear blue skies the fleet of 53 boats set off at 1pm yesterday in the 30th anniversary Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race.

As expected it was an auspicious start by Bob Oatley’s glamorous pocket maxi Wild Oats X which caught the best of the breeze and was already an estimated three minutes under the race record by the time she passed the firstmarker.

With the race just an hour old, Coffs Harbour Yacht Club commodore Garry Innes tipped the Mark Richards-skippered boat was likely to set a new record with her expected arrival between 7am-7.30am today.

But just a few hours later he predicted an even better outcome.

“She’s getting right out in front and with the big southerly about to get behind, it should blow her into Coffs by around 6.49am,” he said.

“Of course, the wind might die and she finds herself becalmed but if it all goes the way we believe it will, she could obliterate the record.”

If that happens, the record set by Wild Oats IX in 2003 of 18 hours 29 minutes will be eclipsed.

And should the boat, the little sister of Sydney to Hobart winner Wild Oats XI, go on as expected and take line honours for a third time, having won the race in 2005 and 2006, it will be a record-equalling achievement after Innkeeper claimed the race in 1988, 1992 and 1995.

The Wild Oats franchise has collectively taken out five of the past eight Pittwater to Coffs Harbour races, claiming line honours in three different boats.

Last night at 6pm, Wild Oats X was positioned more than three nautical miles ahead of Quest with a further nautical mile back to Short Wave.

RPAYC Commodore Russell Murphy addressed the crews before they climbed aboard their vessels and filled the sails.

“We extend a warm welcome to each competitor and have no doubt the 30th event will once again be competitive, challenging and fun for all concerned,” he said.

“I wish everyone well.

“We have a fabulously diverse and competitive fleet ranging from Wild Oats X down to Carats n Kilos, with a host of boats of various sizes in between.

“We’ll see you all in Coffs Harbour.”

The 2011 fleet comprises boats from three states, representing 12 yacht clubs extending from Hamilton Island in the north to Brighton in the south.

Nine boats are under 11 metres with four contesting the inaugural shorthanded division. In IRC there will be 29 racing with 20 in PHS.

Each boat has been fitted with a satellite GPS tracker and positions will be updated on the event website every 15 minutes during the race.

To follow the race, go to www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au



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