The battle for IRC honours in the Club Marine Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta has moved into a different sphere with a number of well-known grand prix entries raising the handicap bar for the popular summer ocean race, hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.
2012 Pittwater to Coffs race IRC handicap winner Exile, a DK46 - photo by Damian Devine - 2013 Club Marine Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta
While the largest boat usually sets the fastest time, the real battle among sailors playing on a level field is for the prized handicap trophy.
Darryl Hodgkinson’s Beneteau 45, Victoire, most recently named Class 2 Audi IRC Australian Champion and also the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s current Blue Water Pointscore Champion, last took part in the 226 nautical miler in 2005 with his Sydney 38.
'We enjoyed it in 2005 and in 2013 it will be something new for Victoire,' said the Sydney based plastic surgeon. 'This year we wanted to give the Hobart race a break, everyone’s a bit tired, but we wanted to keep the boat going.
Some of my crew will race south then fly back up and join us for the start on January 2.
'I see the format has changed a bit, now it’s a long race followed by four short races, which is probably easier. What hasn’t changed is that Victoire’s old adversary, Exile, will be sailing against us. It will be a good match up.'
Rob Reynold’s DK 46 Exile is the defending Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta IRC champion.
On the likes of Bill Wild’s Queensland RP55 Wedgetail appearing on the starters list, Hodgkinson says 'It’s nice to see a boat of that ilk taken out of mothballs, it adds a lot of interest'.
Now based on the Gold Coast, Wild’s work pile has kept him buried for the past 15 months and his prized Wedgetail, formerly Geoff Ross’ Yendys, idle.
Wedgetail’s crew is being assembled this week, the owner/skipper confirming that North Sails’ Michael Coxon will join a majority Queensland team as tactician and helmsman.
'If we get nor’easters we’ll be pretty competitive, if it’s off the breeze the TP Ragamuffin will be hard to beat,' admits Wild, who last raced in the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s premier event in early 2000.
'I had a couple of good placings with my Mumm 36 back in the dark ages, but I’ve never won it.'
Wild will use the Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs ocean race to deliver his boat north to Brisbane where he will plans to race more regularly.
At 85, the doyen of Australian ocean racing, Syd Fischer, will join the throng of young professional sailors and those still with an appetite to satiate after the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart returning to Sydney for the 1pm start of the Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Race on January 2.
Fischer will campaign his 100 foot super maxi Ragamuffin Loyal in the Sydney Hobart and have his TP52, Ragamuffin, ready and waiting back in Sydney for the first bluewater race of the New Year.
'Some of the crew will bring the 100 footer back and some will fly back and race on the TP. We’ll have a pretty good crew going north,' Fischer assures.
When asked what has motivated him to make a return to the northern sprint race he replied in earnest, 'Something to do'.
Fischer needs a significant pool of seasoned offshore sailors to operate his expanding fleet of yachts and the northern assault will give those who missed out on the cutthroat crew selection for Hobart an opportunity to feel part of the swelling Ragamuffin family.
'Everything is so bloody heavy on the 100 footer, it’s a different dimension. We’ll take some of the blokes to Coffs who missed out on the maxi ride to Hobart.'
With a former Ragamuffin, Fischer scored the double in the 1996 Pittwater Coffs, line honours and the IMS handicap trophy, and it’s feasible the octogenarian’s famous moniker will again be added to the winner’s list.
The race is appealing to a new audience with 14 of the 38 boats entered so far first time entrants and skippers like Hodgkinson, Wild and Fischer making a comeback after an extended break.
The organising club, the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, has extended the deadline for entries to 5pm this Friday, December 14.
The 2013 Club Marine Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta Notice of Race is available from the event website at www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au
Online entry via Top Yacht Software
For race enquiries and documentation please contact the RPAYC Sailing Office on (02) 9998 3771 or firstname.lastname@example.org