The Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Race fleet of 28 setting off from the entrance to Broken Bay at 1pm this Friday January 2, 2015, can expect a straightforward race north with the Bureau of Meteorology’s long range outlook indicating dry weather and classic summer sea breezes.
ISAF Rolex Male World Sailor of the Year and two-time winning America’s Cup skipper, James Spithill, will inject plenty of know-how into the already talented pool of drivers on Sean Langman’s giant multihull Team Australia.
In the country for Christmas with his family, Spithill is on a break from his Oracle Team USA helmsman duties and “keeping his hand in”. He joined Jim Clark’s USA supermaxi Comanche that placed second over the line to Wild Oats XI in the Rolex Sydney Hobart and this Friday the Pittwater sailing prodigy returns to the discipline of multihull racing that has made him a household name.
“I’ve been a fan of Sean’s for a long time… I love it that he takes it on,” said James Spithill this morning. “He’s going from one extreme to the other, going south on the smallest boat then jumping on the quickest boat in Australia. I’ve done a fair bit of sailing on the ORMA 60s off the coast of Brittany. I’m pumped to come off Comanche, the latest and greatest monohull design, and step on an ORMA racing out of my home club.
“It’s cool to see the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club leading the drive to include multihulls. It’s only a matter of time before I think there will be a multihull division in a lot more races, including the Sydney to Hobart,” the champion yachtsman added.
Weary Rolex Sydney Hobart crews who signed up for the double are making their way back from Australia’s southernmost city anticipating nor’easterly winds heading to Coffs, and temperatures well above the sobering 12 degrees recorded in Hobart at 9am this morning.
Sean and son Peter Langman’s ride south on Boxing Day then north in two days’ time is equally juxtaposed. Their smallest and oldest Hobart entrant, Maluka of Kermandie, came close to stealing the show on corrected time. Come January 2 the pair switch to Sean’s 60-foot weapon, Team Australia, the record-breaking trimaran that holds the fastest multihull course time in the Pittwater to Coffs race.
Some of the crew from Syd Fischer’s 100-footer Ragamuffin are backing up with Fischer’s grandson Brenton leading the way on Syd’s TP52 of the same name. Ragamuffin was the 2014 line honours and handicap victor in all divisions, IRC, ORCi and PHS, the first entrant in the event annals to achieve such a remarkable result.
Karl Kwok’s Botin 80 Beau Geste, sailing for the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, is likely to keep the line honours trophy well out of the TP52’s reach, and have a tilt at the longstanding record.
A challenger needs to average 12.2 knots of boat speed over the 226 nautical mile coastal race that starts from a line laid to the north of Barrenjoey Headland to slice time off the 18hr 29min 14sec set in 2003 by Bob Oatley/Mark Richards with Wild Oats IX.A modern yacht and crew of Beau Geste’s ilk is more than capable but needs consistent winds or a southerly blast, and the latter isn’t predicted.
Senior forecaster Michael Logan says a high pressure system sitting over the Tasman Sea and ridge extending up to the Queensland coast means crews can expect the best of the pressure off the Hunter and southern Mid North Coast and lighter breezes towards the finish at Coffs Harbour.
“The forecast is showing a light southerly change moving through the Sydney area on start morning which will leave us with a weakening easterly before a light sea breeze starts to push in. By the start time there should be an ENE wind at 10 knots,” said Logan. “As the fleet gets into open water they’ll find a bit more wind tending to the NE, close to the Hunter they might find 15-20 knots later in the afternoon.
“Nor-easterly winds are the pattern for the race. Weaker in the morning, especially around dawn then fresher in the afternoon. Crews may run into the odd afternoon shower but generally it’s looking dry.”
Logan will present the official race forecast at the mandatory weather briefing for all skippers and navigators on the morning of the race start, Friday January 2, 2015 at 9am at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club at Newport. The club is hosting a free bacon and egg BBQ for competitors from 0730hrs – 0830hrs.
The monohull start is 1300hrs and the multihulls start at 1315hrs. The best place to view the starts is from the top of Palm Beach headland or on a private vessel.
Competitors are reminded there are no skeds required as the race committee will be using the trackers to log each boat’s position. Tracker information will go live by Thursday and can be viewed herehttp://www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au/live/yacht-tracking
The only official position report is the Nambucca Heads ETA to finish with Coffs Harbour Marine Rescue on VHF Channel 80.
Boats wishing to compete in the Coffs Harbour Solitary Islands Race can enter online here http://www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au/competitor-info/online-entry-crew-submissions Trackers will be installed on competing boats for this race and competitors need to enter by Sunday January 4 to allow time for installation.
Follow all the action on the event website at www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au
By Lisa Ratcliff /RPAYCmedia