Pittwater to Coffs Race 2013 – 34 boats off to wet and wild start
by Lisa Ratcliff on 2 Jan 2013
The Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour yacht race 2013 was off to a bumpy start as 15-knot south east breeze and scraps of swell from the nor’easters provided a wet and wild opening dash in the first offshore racing event of 2013.
Pretty Woman crew at the Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs yacht race 2013 Howard Wright /IMAGE Professional Photography http://www.imagephoto.com.au
It was a bumpy exit from Broken Bay for this afternoon’s start of the Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs yacht race as 34 ocean going boats ranging in size from 55 to 34 feet charged off the line under Barrenjoey Headland, Ragamuffin and Wedgetail leading the pursuing pack.
A cool 15 knot sou’east breeze and the scraps of swell from the nor’easters over the last couple of days combined to create confused seas, enough for many crews to be wearing wet weather gear and PFDs while crouched on the rail.
It was a clean start for all but David Cutcliffe’s Cruz Control, which was called over at the start and had to return for another go.
The reach to Box Head on the Central Coast was a quick one, Paul O’Connell’s Cole 35 Katinka from the CYCA bringing up the rear.
With a downwind armchair ride predicted, the lightweight sleds have the advantage. As the afternoon wears on those crews will be gearing up for tonight’s physical and mental battle for line and potentially handicap honours.
At 1530 hours this afternoon Yacht Tracking had the frontrunners, Bill Wild’s Wedgetail and Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin side by side and trading blows for first. Both were on record pace.
Wedgetail’s waterline length is holding the Queensland 55 footer in good stead for her first race back after the owner’s self-imposed time out from blue water campaigning.
As well as being super quick off the breeze, half of Ragamuffin’s crew have just returned from the Rolex Sydney Hobart where they finished second over the line to Wild Oats XI on the 100 footer, Ragamuffin Loyal. Half Fischer’s TP52 team is rested; the other half, including 18 foot skiff hero David Witt, is still in race mode from the Boxing Day classic and therefore dangerous. Celebrated round-the-world yachtsman, Andrew Cape, brings his vast experience to the Ragamuffin outfit as navigator.
David Forbes’ Kaiko 42 Merlin from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron is this afternoon galloping along under spinnaker reaching 10-12 knots of boat speed in a 20 knot sou’easter with Perpetual Mocean and Swish in sight.
'We are looking forward to seeing what breeze develops tonight,' said Forbes at 3.45pm. 'The fleet is starting to spread out,' he added.