by Zoe hawkins
V5 expected to be first monohull home in the 2012 Coastal Classic
Mark Mulcare was the designer and instigator of the RaceTrack ranking system for New Zealand race yachts, and he has cast his expert eye over the race fleet to advise of the divisional prospects:
Division 1 has shaped up well with as good a battle for first over the line as we've had recently. V5, Wired, Georgia, Ran Tan and Kia Kaha all have good prospects for first monohull home. My pick will be V5, she's been improving steadily over the past 12 months and the forecast shouldn't hurt her prospects.
For handicap, the wind may be a touch too far forward of the beam to suit the small flyers, Tongue Twister and Overload and I'm guessing it'll be a race that suits the bigger boats, so maybe V5, Wired and Akatea with BSL and the new Elliott 35 Crusader as dark horses.
In Division 2, as usual a very hard division to pick, Truxton is always sailed well and she would have to go close to favourite for line honours along with the White 40 Nosaka and Outrageous Fortune. The forecast may well favour the boats towards the front of the fleet. Pretty Woman has been going very well of recent time and must be in with a chance, as will be the Davidson 42 Spitfire which has recently returned to the local racing scene. Will also be interesting to watch the T30 Nedax Racing from Wellington to see how the Wellington folk measures up against their northern compatriots.
As always, Division 3 is an interesting mix of boats covering everything from the 1020s through light flyers like R n B to the larger cruisers Vision and Bella Rossa. On line, the Young 11 Peppermint Planet would seem to have a reasonable chance of repeating last years win. If the wind is a little further forward, things will favour the larger boats on line like Touchdown or Bella Rossa and perhaps Ilex. On handicap, again following the theme of big and possible earlier finishers in the division, I think Touchdown, Kantime and the Colson 9.8 Shrek's House must all be in with a chance.
In Division 4, whilst the wind may be a touch too far forward to be ideal, nonetheless the favourites on line must be the much modified 930s Pepe and No Worries. Handicap is a tougher call, Pepe should be near the front and is an improving boat so must have a chance. Other good prospects would be the Elliott 10 Hysteria and the First 34.7 First by Farr.
Division 5 has always been the domain of the SR26 and for line, the only SR26 in the race, this year, T-Rex will be a leading contender for line. Other prospects will again be the bigger boats, the Lidgard 40 Domino or with the wind a little aft, the well modified Ross 830 Bump n Grind. On handicap, whilst being a smaller boat won't help, the Farr 727 Crac a Jac looks to have a deal of experience on board and should have a chance. Other good chances look to be the much traveled Open Country and the Farr 9.2 Hot Gossip.
Division 6 for the bigger multihulls, no surprises that I'm picking Vodafone as a red hot favourite for line. On handicap, whilst they'll have to scurry to finish with the best of the weather, I quite like the chances of the more cruising oriented multis, look for Impreza or Fruition to be challenging along with the other ORMA 60 in the fleet, Titi Nui.
For the smaller multis of Division 7, with the withdrawal of Ninja, favourites for line will fall to Charleston, Timberwolf and Frantic Drift. My pick will be the smallest, Charleston. Handicap should again be quite a battle, I think this one may go to Frantic Drift though Dirty Deeds and Borderline should be well in there keeping her honest.
Finally, for the more relaxed in Division 8, my pick will be the Hanse 400 Devana for line and with the forecast as it is, she also looks a reasonable chance for handicap. Other good chances look to be the improving Townson 32 Takahoa and the somewhat bigger Senior design, Latitude.