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Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Race - Advancement in Communication

by Damian Devine on 29 Oct 2013
Richard Hudson, skipper of Pretty Woman racing Damian Devine
The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club host of the Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race, has announced that boats will be allowed to compete in the 33rd running of the event carrying a satellite phone as an alternative to HF radio for communication purposes, a major coup for the event.

The Club’s organising committee for the race has recognised the progress of technology and have spent the past three years using the Yellow Brick tracking system, proving their accuracy and reliability.

The 2014 race will again see the mandatory use of the Yellow Brick tracker on all boats so that race control will be able to see where the boats are at all times. HF will still be monitored 24/7 through an arrangement with Kordia.
In all races to date, there has been a requirement for scheduled position reporting. However, in the past two years, the committee has modified the position reporting so that race control provide the position to the boats at a given time, using the information provided from the tracker, and the boats responding 'affirmative' or 'negative'. So far, none have been negative.

For the 2014 race, all boats will be required to roll call once a day to a central race control reporting their 1800hrs position prior to 1900hrs using one of the following methods: HF via Kordia, Sat phone, VHF to base, 3G mobile phone text or email. All reports will be acknowledged by the same medium of the call by race control.

From a safety perspective, all boats are required to carry EPIRBs and personal location beacons (PLBs) and there is adequate VHF coverage over the 226 nautical mile distance between Barrenjoey and Coffs Harbour. Supporting the fleet will be the 21m Matthew Flinders who will follow the fleet and monitor HF/VHF/3G and sat phone communications and Marine Rescue will also monitor VHF and HF 24/7 for the length of the race.

Experienced offshore competitor and chairman of the Coffs organising committee Richard Hudson said of the decision, 'For us it’s a natural progression, we are constantly reviewing things to do with this race and have had a plan in place for some time with the tracker technology and the ideology behind position reporting. With the accuracy and reliability of the trackers and the economic availability of sat phones it made this decision a rational one without impinging on safety standards.

By taking away a significant cost to owners we are opening up the event to any number of new competitors who have been wanting to compete. We hope this initiative will encourage vessels without installed HF radios to enter and compete,' added Hudson.

The 226nm Category 2 Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour ocean race will start at 1pm on January 2, 2014, off Barrenjoey headland. The annual post New Year’s Eve pilgrimage north is part of the RPAYC’s five race Blue Water Series.

Since opening the doors to multihulls a few weeks back, five have now entered which is great news for the race from Sean Langman’s Orma 60 trimaran, Team Australia to the Seacart 30 Morticia.

Once the fleet have arrived in Coffs Harbour the second stage of the regatta gets underway with four races over January 5 and 6. The offshore races are YA category four events with late morning starts just off the harbour entrance, providing the perfect opportunity for competitors and their families to combine a holiday at the popular tourist destination.

The 2014 regatta will once again play host to the third annual Australian PHS Championships which all monohull entrants will be eligible to compete for.

The closing date for entries is Friday 6 December, 2013.

The 2014 Club Marine Pittwater and Coffs Harbour Regatta Notice of Race and online entry is available from the event website

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