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Pittwater to Coffs Race - Shorthanded Division announced

by Damian Devine on 24 Sep 2010
Ian Thomson’s ’SOS Ocean Racing’ from the Whitsunday Sailing Club is the first entry in the shorthanded Division of the 30th Pittwater to Coffs Race Damian Devine
Pittwater to Coffs Race - For the first time in the history of the race, a new shorthanded Division has been announced for the 30th Anniversary Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Race, hosted by the RPAYC.

Within hours of the announcement on the event website, Ian Thomson, who earlier this year smashed the record for his solo circumnavigation of Australia, has confirmed entry into the shorthanded Division.

The Shorthanded Sailing Association of Australia (SSAA), recognised as the peak body for this dimension of yachting in Australia, has welcomed the move by the RPAYC and will add the Pittwater to Coffs race to their active calendar.

The shorthanded Division is limited to boats sailing with two or three crew. Alternations have been made to the racing rules to allow boats who compete in the shorthanded Division to use electrical and hydraulic automatic steering devices. There are a number of mandatory requirements for crew including that all crew must have completed a Cat One or Two race, all must have completed a safety sea survival course and all must have a first aid certificate.

Thomson, whose custom designed Welbourn 12m ‘SOS Ocean Racing’ commented, 'I had plans to enter my boat anyway in the 30th Coffs race and planned to bring a full crew for the race, however, sailing with just one good mate will make for a great race. It suits my boat better and is what it was built for. It’s a downwind flyer and designed for short-handed racing.'

The boat was attained for one purpose, his around Australia solo world record attempt, where he took a massive 26 days off the previous record earlier this year.

Thomson added, 'Initially it was designed for the Melbourne to Osaka yacht race however due to budgets running out, the former owner never got it into the race in 2007.

It’s as close to an open 40 as you can get. Off the wind it is faster than a Farr 40 as it’s lighter and gets on the plane much faster. So when the Pittwater to Coffs announced a short-handed division for the 30th Anniversary, it was a no brainer, I wanted to enter straight away.'

'Most years the race is downwind so it suits the boat and being just 226nm, it’s pretty much an overnight race, perfect for a short-handed crew.

With a bit of breeze, it should be around a 24 hour race. Compared to 42 days by myself, this should be a breeze. I have only raced in one Pittwater to Coffs in 2009 onboard Dave Elliot's e11even. It was my first race on Dave's boat and it was 20-25 knots all the way to Coffs. It took just over 26 hours. It was a great race against all the other Farr 40's and I can't wait to run this race again.'

Thomson, representing the Whitsunday Sailing Club, also had an involvement in the 25th Anniversary Pittwater to Coffs Race, as a sponsor when he used to run Yachtworld.com and SeaSpray Magazine for Australia.

'I think the event is awesome and a great alternative to turning left out the heads and heading south to colder weather. Any race that heads back to warmer climates is always a good race and with the Coffs to Paradise straight after, it is ideal for us Queenslanders.'

'I will be racing with a good friend and Whitsunday sailor Terry Archer. Terry owns ‘Questionable Logic’, a Sydney 41, and is the front runner in the Whitsundays fleet winning the PHS division in Airlie Beach Race Week and coming second in PHS Div 1 at Hamilton Island. Before I had my own boat, I used to race on Terry's boat and now we have a great rivalry, both on and off the water. In Airlie Beach Race Week my crew did wrap Terry's boat up in toilet paper on lay day with Terry's crew reacting with flour in every flake of our main on the last day of sailing. We always have fun sailing however we are both ultra competitive. We won't settle for second place.'

Thomson’s boat is nick-named Vonu which is Fijian for Turtle. He added, 'Some may laugh that the boat is named after a slow marine animal, however, it is the turtle that started my Save Our Seas campaign. Having found seven dead turtles in my time on the water, one particular one had a plastic bag for a stomach. We found the plastic bag had formed perfectly in its stomach and contained 12 cigarette butts, half a coke can and a bottle cap.'

'I am out to raise awareness of the damage plastic bags and plastics do to our environment and I feel this race is a great platform for another campaign. Pittwater and Coffs Harbour are both beautiful places and have plenty of wildlife. To campaign to locals in these regions is a great thing for us and it would be wonderful if the whole fleet went plastic bag free for the event and continued to push my campaign afterwards. Afterall this is our playground we are talking about, we must protect it so it is there for future generations. '

The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club will host the 30th Anniversary Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Race with Coffs Harbour Yacht Club the receiving Club. The race starts on 2 January 2011 with a 100 strong fleet expected.

The shorthanded Division appendix to the NOR and online entry system are available at www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au.

www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au
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