'Warm Water Classic' back on track

LAST January's misadventures are forgotten and our famous 'Warm Water Classic' is back on track.

Entries have opened for the 28th Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Ocean Yacht Race with a week of activities starting at Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club from Sunday, December 28.

Race director Chris Stone said fingers were crossed that the bad weather which forced the fleet to cancel the last 226 nautical mile run to the North Coast and instead concentrate on a shortened course centred between Broken Bay and Port Stephens earlier this year, was nothing more than a bad dream.

“We're hoping the weather Gods will be back on side so that the race heads in only one direction and that's north to Coffs Harbour,” he said.

“Everyone's excited about the prospects for 2009 and expect around 75 yachts in the starting fleet.”

Following a survey conducted among current competitors, the windward/leeward lead-up races off the Palm Beach Circle and the overnight race introduced last year, have been ditched for this series.

A new non-point score highlight known as the 'Coffs Trophy Race' has been substituted and will be held on Sunday, December 28, allowing skippers to tackle sail changes, implement crew tactics and enjoy a warm-up prior to the main event.

Depending on the conditions of the day, two courses have been organised with the likely option being a Broken Bay-Sydney Harbour return. Following the 8am briefing on Friday, January 2, the ocean race to Coffs Harbour will begin at high noon.

Weather permitting, boats should start arriving in the early hours of Saturday.

While it now seems so long ago, Wild Oats XI is defending champion from 2007, with Wild Joe winning the substitute event.

The race record is held by Wild Oats IX - 18 hours, 29 minutes, 14 seconds - set in 2003.

At the completion of the race to Coffs a mayoral reception will be held at Coffs Harbour Marina, with the Solitary Islands Race rounding out the series on January 5.

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