Nothing builds a hard-earned thirst like a tight and tactical offshore race up NSW’s coastline, but fortunately there’s a certain summer holiday town awaiting with that first ale and some home-style hospitality.
Coffs Harbour is the perfect finishing port for the 230-mile Pantaenius Newport Coffs Coast yacht race. One of NSW’s most popular tourism destinations, it offers a vast range of entertainment, dining and accommodation options along with a subtropical climate and pristine beaches.
Locals and visitors flock to the waterfront to provide a rock-star welcome for race finishers while event co-host Coffs Harbour Yacht Club (CHYC) turns on a non-stop party atmosphere in its adjoining marquee. In fact, there’ll be activities every day for those who choose to stay.
“There’s more to the race than just racing – it’s about coming to Coffs Harbour and enjoying its many attractions,” says CHYC Commodore Garry Innes. “The town has a great vibe as everyone comes to watch the yachts set a spinnaker to the finish line.
“The crews are usually pretty worn out when they hit the club but we’re more than happy to stay open to give them the best possible hospitality and welcome. You see people eventually wander off for a snooze, myself included, then they come back again … it’s a fun time of year, it really is.”
So warm is the homecoming welcome that two Coffs Harbour yachts have already entered the race – Pierre Gal’s newly launched 34-footer Mistral and the modified Inglis 47 Dolce with Doug Gayford at the helm. At least two more are expected to compete.
This year’s social program will be bigger and better than ever as family and friends join the intrepid sailors. It includes a mayoral reception with Cr Denise Knight, presentation night and a New Year’s Eve fireworks and entertainment spectacular. Along the nearby Jetty strip are pubs and restaurants galore, not to mention the yacht club’s own top-quality restaurant.
Recognising that many yachties also enjoy a hit of golf, race organisers have arranged a special outing at nearby Bonville Golf Course, which has been rated one of Australia’s top-10 courses, on December 31. Cost is just $115 for 9 holes, a twin-share golf buggy and lunch, while club hire is $25 for standard clubs or $45 for premium Mizuno sticks.
Up for grabs are bragging rights among the various crews. Serious golfers can play the full 18 holes at extra cost and stow their own clubs in a truck that will ferry crew bags, extra sails and equipment from Royal Motor Yacht Club Broken Bay to Coffs Harbour.
A fun race will take yachts around the picturesque Solitary islands, nature’s own race course. Meanwhile, those keen to continue northwards to Southport’s Sail Paradise can do so in a cruise-in-company initiative that departs January 2, leaving plenty of time to motor-sail the remaining 140 nautical miles.
To help in securing post-race accommodation, the Pantaenius Newport Coffs Coast organisers have forged a new partnership with Pacific Property Management at Coffs Harbour. Competitors can check out their website at coffsaccommodation.com.au or phone (02) 6652 1466.
Commodore Innes urges early bookings to avoid disappointment.
“After a night or two at sea it’s great to have a nice warm bed lined up,” he adds. “And once they’re here, I guarantee that no one will be disappointed. Within walking distance of the club is everything from pub grub to cosmopolitan Italian or Asian cuisine, and there’s also a Fisherman’s Co-op offering locally caught seafood.
“In fact, our prawns are world renowned. I can remember sitting in a New York restaurant that offered the same prawns I can buy at home – only they were a lot more expensive!”
In the nearby hinterland are the historic townships of Bellingen and Dorrigo, linked by the aptly named Waterfall Way which wends its way through lush forests and farmland. Bellingen is highly regarded by foodies and shoppers while Dorrigo is the gateway to a World Heritage-listed National Park.
Race director Rob Brown from RMYC Broken Bay is encouraging club racers from Port Hacking to Port Stephens to join in, even if it’s the only offshore race they do. “We have tried to make the race a lot simpler to enter for everyone,” Brown says.
“That includes everything from the socialising side, right down to safety aspects. It’s a Category 3+ event, which means no HF radio is required, and skippers can hire a sat-phone from EPIRB Hire and a life-raft from Sail Exchange if they need to.
“If you intend racing, please get your entry in ASAP so we can provide you and your crew with the best race organisation and service.”
Sponsors for the race include Pantaenius Insurance, Musto, Robert Oatley Wines, B&G, Pacific Property Management and Coffs Harbour International Marina.