Pittwater to Coffs Harbour 2013 – Breezy start favours big boats

Bureau of Meteorology regional director Barry Hanstrum delivers the weather briefing at the RPAYC
Damian Devine
The Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour 2013 is very likely to have an action-packed race from the headstart as Bureau of Meteorology regional director Barry Hanstrum recommended the skippers and sailors of the 34 participating boats to make their stride while the sun still up this afternoon.

Bureau of Meteorology regional director Barry Hanstrum has recommended Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs yacht race crews 'make hay while the sun shines' this afternoon, when the best conditions are likely.

The 226 nautical mile sprint north will start at 1pm this afternoon off Barrenjoey Headland in a forecast 15 knot sou’east breeze.

A southerly push through Sydney at midnight has taken the strongest winds up the coast leaving a moderating southerly flow that is expected to tend east in the coming days.

Given the warm sea temperatures, Hanstrum expects the evening land breezes to work in opposition to the southerly flow close to shore, posing the age old question to navigators and tacticians of when to head to open waters and potentially into stronger unfavourable current.

From Forster onwards, a two to four knot northerly current is likely to greet the fleet.

For half the 14 crew on Syd Fischer’s TP52 Ragamuffin, including the skipper and his wing man Tony Ellis, this morning’s official weather briefing delivered a forecast ideal for the largest in the 34 boat fleet.

Trimmer and driver Matt Pearce was all smiles, jesting, 'the rich get richer'. He and six of the 14 crew heading north on Fischer’s smaller Ragamuffin have just returned from another downwinder, the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Investec Ragamuffin outpaced the southerly to Hobart, just one and a half hours of breeze on the nose for the 100 footer while the majority of the fleet were up against it for days.

'Two downwind races in just over a week is amazing,' said Pearce this morning at the organising club, the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club at Newport on Sydney’s northern beaches.

Pearce was part of the line honours winning crew of Future Shock in last year’s Pittwater to Coffs ocean race and he’s hoping to go back-to-back. The fastest course time between Sydney and the mid north coastal city of Coffs Harbour should be between Ragamuffin and Bill Wild’s Queensland RP55 Wedgetail.

Mark Jeremy, a trimmer on Robert Alder’s Cookson 12 Occasional Course Language isn’t as chuffed with the forecast. 'It’s definitely a big boat race. Maybe the easterly will bring the 40 footers up to the larger boats,' he said hopefully.

Occasional Coarse Language – photo by Damian Devine - 2013 Club Marine Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta
Damian Devine

Well-known yachtsman Adam Brown, tactician on David Cutcliffe’s Santa Cruz 52, Cruz Control, agrees with Jeremy’s prediction.

'The forecast favours the bigger boats and the diluting breeze is tailor-made for the lighter grand prix entries,' said Brown, who is lining up for his 12th northern blue water classic, the first of the New Year.

London Olympic silver medallist Nina Curtis is crewing on Secret Mens Business with her father Rob Curtis, the owner/skipper of the Murray 42 and the Commodore of the RPAYC.

Pittwater to Coffs Harbour 2013