Cream of yachting to take on Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race

One of the most formidable fleets on record is to line up in the chase for line and overall honours in the 2022 Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race, Peter Harburg’s super maxi Black Jack heading the crème de la crème of yachting for Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s (RPAYC) 226 nautical mile race, to start on Friday 8 April.

Aerial shot of Black Jack sailing upwind
Black Jack powers southward in the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Pic – Andrea Francolini/Rolex

Black Jack, representing Yacht Club de Monaco, took line honours in the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart and will face-off against Christian Beck’s super maxi LawConnect, which crossed the line in second place. When the start gun is fired off Barrenjoey Headland at 1pm, the pair will push each other hard all the way and a new record may be set if the weather is complicit.

“This race was a great opportunity, as we were already heading north for the Brisbane Gladstone and it fits nicely into our program,” Black Jack’s skipper, Mark Bradford, said. 

As to LawConnect, Bradford said, “It will be a bit of a Sydney Hobart rematch, but on a shorter course. The big difference is this time it is a coastal race, so it will be interesting to see if one of us can get away from the other.” 

Gunning for overall honours in the 36th running of the annual race is David Griffith’s JV62, Whisper. Last weekend Whisper broke the Montague Island race record and Griffith is raring to go and to have a crack at the likes of reigning Sydney Hobart champion, Ichi Ban (Matt Allen), LCE Old School Racing (Mark Griffith), Sail Exchange (Carl Crafoord) and Highly Sprung (Mark Spring).

Spring is keen to take on the opposition too. “We had a successful Hobart campaign winning our division in IRC and ORCi, but one of us tested positive for Covid on arrival in Tasmania, so we didn’t get to celebrate. So, the crew are buoyed up for the Coffs Harbour race. There’s a real buzz because we haven’t been on the boat since then,” he explained. 

“We’re looking forward to hopefully getting in the face (upwind) weather, it’s what we’re good in, it’s what makes us happy,” he ended.

However, other competitors have history in the race and know the course like the backs of their hands. Wings (Ian Edwards), Pretty Woman (Richard Hudson), XS Moment BNMH (Ray Hudson) and Insomnia (Marcus Grimes) are ready to take on some of Australia’s best known Grand Prix racing yachts. 

Insomnia sailing upwind in rough seas.
A downwind race would suit Insomnia. Pic – RPAYC media

”I’ve done a couple of Pittwater Coffs races and the Pittwater to Paradise with my former boat, High Anxiety. We won PHS one year,” Marcus Grimes said. “I like going fast, so I bought a downwind performer (Insomnia). We were out in the Alfred’s SOPs race last weekend surfing in 25 knots – it was a lot of fun – so we’re hoping for a downwind race.

“The race will mainly all come down to the wind. The TPs are good in all conditions, but a planning boat like Intiy or us could win if we get a following wind. Pretty Woman, Highly Sprung, or Sail Exchange could be there if it’s upwind,” he said. 

Add to this concoction five nifty two-handed entries: Intiy (Marc Depret), Runaway (Tim Alexander), Transcendence (Martin Cross), Local Hero (Mark Ayto) and Rum Rebellion (Shane Connelly), the latter two also competed in the 2021 Sydney Hobart. 

Roamance, Gordon Beath’s Chamberlin 14, is the lone multihull entered at this stage, but Beath is hoping for company and RPAYC is accepting late entries. 

On arrival in Coffs Harbour, crews will be welcomed at Coffs Harbour Yacht Club (CHYC) and the Club will have the barbecue and bar running on the weekend of 9 and 10 April. 

CHYC offers a tender service for larger yachts dropping off crew. Those who would like to take advantage are asked to contact the RPAYC Sailing Office in advance and use VHF Channel 77 when arriving in Coffs Harbour. Those requiring berthing at Coffs Harbour marina need to contact the marina office in advance by phoning 6651 4222.

Schedule:

Thursday 7 April: Fever-Tree Crew Party and Race Briefing 

Friday 8 April: Race start 1300hrs

Saturday 9 April: Race continues

Sunday 10 April: Presentation, Coffs Harbour Yacht Club 

Late entries for the Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race are being accepted, Enter today via the Event Website www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au

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By Di Pearson/RPAYC media

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