FOR the first time in the history of the race, a new shorthanded division has been announced for the 30th anniversary Pittwater to Coffs Harbour yacht race.
Within hours of the announcement on the event website, Ian Thomson, who earlier this year smashed the record for his solo circumnavigation of Australia, confirmed his entry into the shorthanded division.
The Shorthanded Sailing Association of Australia (SSAA), recognised as the peak body for this dimension of yachting in Australia, has welcomed the move by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and will add the Pittwater to Coffs race to its active calendar.
The shorthanded division is limited to boats sailing with two or three crew.
Alternations have been made to the racing rules to allow boats who compete in the shorthanded division to use electrical and hydraulic automatic steering devices.
“I had plans to enter my boat anyway in the 30th Coffs race and planned to bring a full crew for the race, however, sailing with just one good mate will make for a great race,” Thomson said.
“It suits my boat better and is what it was built for. It's a downwind flyer and designed for short-handed racing.”
The boat was attained for one purpose, his around Australia solo world record attempt, where he took a massive 26 days off the previous record earlier this year.
“Initially it was designed for the Melbourne to Osaka yacht race, however, due to budgets running out, the former owner never got it into the race in 2007,” Thomson said.
“It's as close to an open 40 as you can get.
“Off the wind it is faster than a Farr 40 as it's lighter and gets on the plane much faster. So when the Pittwater to Coffs announced a short-handed division for the 30th Anniversary, it was a no brainer, I wanted to enter straight away.
“Most years the race is downwind so it suits the boat and being just 226 nautical miles, it's pretty much an overnight race, perfect for a short-handed crew.
“With a bit of breeze, it should be around a 24-hour race. Compared to 42 days by myself, this should be a breeze.
“I have only raced in one Pittwater to Coffs in 2009 onboard Dave Elliot's e11even. It was my first race on Dave's boat and it was 20-25 knots all the way to Coffs. It took just over 26 hours. It was a great race against all the other Farr 40s, and I can't wait to run this race again.”