The Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Race fleet of 38 will only have a couple of hours to settle down after their 1pm start this Thursday January 2nd, 2014, before a southerly change quickly catches up to the boats and propels them northwards.
Bruce McKay and Wasabi in a previous Coffs race start with more hands on deck than they will have this time around
Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Jake Phillips anticipates 12-15 knot N/NW or NE sea breezes for the start, to the north of Barrenjoey Headland, will precede a southerly change. It’s due to hit Sydney Harbour at 2pm at 15-20 knots and sweep up the coast to the fleet, changing the mode of racing from headwinds to increased breeze from behind.
'There could be showers and the odd thunderstorm as the change moves through, nothing significant but there are signs of instability off the northern Hunter and mid north coast between Newcastle and Port Macquarie,' expects Phillips.
'The forecast is still evolving. Conditions will hinge on the timing of the southerly and crews also need to bear in mind possible thunderstorms Thursday afternoon and into the evening.
'It will be south sou’east for much of the race and Friday afternoon it looks like conditions will ease right back to light ENE winds.'
Wasabi’s co-skipper Bruce McKay is thrilled with the likelihood of an off-the-breeze scenario.
'Running and reaching is perfect for us as long as it doesn’t get too heavy; anything up to 30 knots is no big deal.'
When McKay says 'us' he’s talking about he and co-skipper John Davies. McKay, who made the switch to short-handed racing a couple of years ago, has praised the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club for its foresight in allowing boats to race with two crew.
'John and I really appreciate the RPAYC’s forward thinking by allowing multihulls, short-handed and changing the requirement for an HF radio. We’d like to see more of it,' McKay added.
The pair has been sailing together for two years and took line honours in this year’s Melbourne to Osaka endurance race back in March/April with the Cronulla Sailing Club’s bright green Sayer 12, Wasabi.
'We know the routine very well but we are mindful not to be dismissive of a sprint race. We are very excited about the conditions and we’ll be putting every sail up like everyone else,' McKay promises.
Wasabi and the Queensland Jutson 39 Sweethart (Laurence Pidgeon) make up the short-handed division.
The RPAYC youth development crew impressed owner Bruce Hogan so much with their ability in the 2013 race that once again he’s made half the crew positions on his Marten 49 Perpetual Mocean available to graduates.
'It was a great success last year, the kids stepped up and performed extremely well in their first long hard ocean race,' said Hogan. 'Most of the youth crew I took last year will back up again.
'The crew look after one another at all times; there is a great camaraderie amongst the whole team. Tommy Spithill will once again join us and will mentor the youth crew or maybe it’s the other way around, as Tommy has a knack for tricking people into thinking he’s got some responsibility,' quips Hogan.
'The average age on board is about 26 and would be a lot less if it wasn’t for me pulling it up. It should be a lot of fun.'
Spithill, who will play tactician and co helmsman said of the forecast, 'The Marten prefers beating into a moderate breeze but if we can manage to get some angle going downwind we’ll go well. We’ll deal with whatever conditions are thrown at us and with our crew training and boat handling skills we will be pushing the boat hard. We’re well prepared from every aspect and looking forward to the race.'
The mandatory weather briefing for all skippers and navigators will be on Thursday morning at 9am sharp at the RPAYC, and will be presided over by the BOM’s Tim Constable and Andrew Treloar.
List of entries at www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au/index.php/competitor-info/entrants
The race will once again feature the Yellow Brick yacht tracking system with 15 minute updates. The tracking system will provide a real-time, graphical representation of the yachts during the race while up to date commentary is to be provided via Twitter and Facebook and on the event website.
Follow all the action on the event website at www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au