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The Water Shed - 3

Pittwater to Coffs Harbour - Future Shock takes line honours

by Damian Devine on 4 Jan 2012
The green machine rolls into town for a well earned rest at the Coffs harbour marina - 2012 Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race Brendan Rourke
Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race 2012 - Craig Ellis’ Elliot 57 'Future Shock' has crossed the finish line shortly before 1am to take line honours in a time of 35hrs 53mins 09 secs, eleven nautical miles in front of runner-up Bruce Absolon’s Volvo 60 ‘Spirit of the Maid’.

After a long and tough race, skipper and crew were greeted by a small welcoming party as they crossed the finish line and then presented with the Coffs Harbour line Honours Bell Trophy by CHYC Commodore Garry Ennis at the Coffs Harbour marina.

Having finished fourth two years ago and forced to retire early last year when sailing shorthanded, the victory was sweet for the skipper and crew who toiled hard in the stiff upwind conditions for the majority of the race.

Craig Ellis, from the CYCA, commented dockside after the race where the celebrations began, 'That was the most tactical race I’ve done in 15 years of sailing this race. Not once did we ease the headsail, it was always hard on the breeze from the start to the finish line. Tactically, we had to stay inshore and hug the coast as the current was running at three knots, so we had to keep the boat in and keep tacking and that boat isn’t easy to tack constantly with the water ballast.'

'It was just constant on the nose, we thought we may have got a little westerly land breeze but no, nothing. We got up to 9.5 knots in the flat water with high 8s in the rough, there was a very confused seaway last night. We saw 22knots maximum wind speed, it wasn’t a nice night, it was crazy', added Ellis.

'The boys put in a huge effort actually, they did a great job out there, constant grinding the old fashion way. We blew a couple of halyards last night which left us down to a single spectra halyard which we couldn’t set properly as it was too stretchy, so we would have finished a lot faster but we had to look after it. It was a big concern but we weren’t going to lose the race because of the halyard, we had plan B in mind,' said Ellis.

On the race tactics with his nearest competitor, 'Spirit did a good job but when we started to get away from them, we just covered them, if they went out a bit we went out a bit and vice versa just to make sure we were in between them and the finish. We knew we had the boat speed on them if we had to match race it out, but they did well,' continued Ellis.


And what it meant to win the Coffs line honours trophy an emotional Ellis said, 'This is the thing I’ve been waiting for, we’ve had line honours before with my Dad on board back in 1997 with Wild Thing and I wanted to get it once more as Dad doesn’t sail anymore. So I wanted to do it for him and I thought this year was our big opportunity. We stacked the boat with the best amateur crew we could get. It showed, it made a huge difference. So it was an emotional time for me to get across that line, very important, we’re thrilled and it’s nice to be here in Coffs Harbour. We look forward to coming back to Coffs again next year,' he commented.

Runner up ‘Spirit of the Maid’, a Volvo 60 owned by Hamilton Island’s Bruce Absolon crossed the finish at 2:45am, a little under two hours behind the winner.

The rest of the fleet are lining up down the coast to make their entrance to the Harbour with ‘Nine Dragons‘, ‘Merlin’, ‘Exile’, 'Pretty Woman', ‘Anger Management’ and ‘Witchcraft’ all next to come and expected in before 7am.Then the procession begins right through Wednesday as the boats file in across the finish to enjoy the hospitality of Coffs Harbour yacht Club and no doubt, a well earn rest onshore.

Predictwind,com forecast a North Nor’ Wester to remain right through the night to the early part of the day before the sea breeze fills in again from mid morning and strengthening through the day tomorrow to make it interesting for the back end of the fleet.

Interest turns to the coveted handicap honours tomorrow with the Dk46s ‘Exile’ and ‘Nine Dragons’ having led most of the day still have their necks out in front in the IRC Division from the Beneteau First 40s ‘Blunderbuss’ and ‘Close Halled’ and the Sydney38 ‘Old School’. Depending on the conditions throughout the remainder of the night and the early part of tomorrow, a couple of others are still in with an outside chance. The final result won’t be known until around midday tomorrow.

‘Future Shock’ has sailed into second position in PHS at the time of writing but will have to wait until tomorrow to see if they can celebrate the double with victory in the performance handicap division. Ellis said, 'If the breeze keeps fading like it is we have a very good chance but we won’t know until tomorrow.' The Coffs Harbour boat ‘B52’ held a very narrow lead with some 45 nautical miles still to travel when ‘’Future Shock finished with RPAYC Commodore Rob Curtis’ boat ‘Secret Men’s Business #1’ hot on their heels with only minutes separating them. Both boats are expected to finish by mid morning.

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