The Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour yacht race has just witnessed one of the tightest finishes in history after Bill Wild’s Queensland RP55 Wedgetail crossed the finish line at 19 hours 53 minutes and three seconds, just three and a half minutes ahead of Syd Fischer’s TP52 Ragamuffin, to take line honours of this year's 228-nautical mile race
Bill Wild’s RP55 Wedgetail crosses the finish line to take line honours - 2013 Club Marine Pittwater and Coffs Harbour Regatta
Both boats had an interesting battle throughout the race in what Syd Fischer, skipper of the TP52 Ragamuffin, described as 'neck and neck all the way'. At 6am this morning as the boats passed Nambucca Heads for their final radio check, Ragamuffin held a 1.5 nautical mile lead with only 20 miles left to sail.
Syd Fischer’s TP52 Ragamuffin enters the harbour - 2013 Club Marine Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta
But Wedgetail managed to get the better of the wind angles to take the lead 45 minutes from the finish. Skipper Bill Wild said of the race, 'it was a good race, not too demanding but we had a good battle with Syd. We led at the start then Syd took over, then we led for a little bit in the middle, then Syd got back on top. So, it kept us on our toes and luckily the breeze held in through the night which was pleasing. It was the outcome we were looking for.'
On the final couple of hours of the race, Wild added,' After dropping the kite over the side at first light, we were able to regroup and get another one up. It paid to be the better choice. We managed to get the better of the wind angles, have the right sails and there was just good crew work and good steering. We managed to get through them in the end, which was the best part and we just held on. It’s very pleasing and it’s great to be here.'
Syd Fischer, the 1996 line honours and handicap winner of this race, praised his crew aboard Ragamuffin, 'who worked hard all the way and worked well together. There a great bunch of guys and unfortunately it wasn’t to be in this race, but that’s yacht racing. The race overall was enjoyable and not too difficult. The boat performed well.'
85 year old Syd Fischer with his Ragamuffin crew - 2013 Club Marine Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta
The crews of both boats were met by a welcome party assembled on Mutton Bird Island and the breakwall on the opposite of the harbour as they crossed the finish line and then presented with the Lline Honours Bell Trophy by CHYC Commodore Garry Ennis at the Coffs Harbour marina.
Fischer still leads on IRC handicap however, and with the breeze now easing on the remainder of the fleet, the prized handicap trophy could still be his. He leads in IRC from Wedgetail and Swish and also in ORCi from Swish and Pretty Woman. In PHS, at present it is Wedgetail ahead of Ragamuffin and Swish in third.
The next boats to finish will be the Kaiko 52 Merlin, the Kernan 44 Swish and the Marten 49 Perpetual Mocean who are bunched very closely together doing 5-6 knots as they approach Nambucca Heads with approximately 24 nautical miles to sail. They aren’t expected in until late afternoon.
The Wedgetail crew celebrate with the Line Honours trophy with CHYC Commodore Garry Ennis - 2013 Club Marine Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta
Follow all the action on the yacht tracker at www.pitttwatertocoffs.com.au!Pittwater_to_Coffs_Harbour_Race_2013. Positions are updated on the event website every 15 minutes during the race. A brand new addition to the race is the Yellowbrick iPhone App, available on iTunes. Go to the link on the event website to download.