Offshore test for Quest in Pittwater to Coffs Yacht Race 2016

Among the growing list of entries for the Pittwater to Coffs Yacht Race starting January 2, 2016 are boats revisiting the event with a different owner and those still holding that ‘new boat’ smell.

Bob Steel’s recent import, a Mat 1180 named Quest that arrived from Turkey over winter, will compete for the organising club, the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club. These days Steel is spending more time at his second house on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and his latest 39-foot Quest, the moniker of Steel’s three previous race boats, is registered to the RPAYC.

Quest’s first foray into the competition arena went particularly well, the skipper and crew named class B champions at the IRC Australian Championship at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August.

Longtime Quest helmsman James MacPhail said, “Bob’s keen for the Pittwater to Coffs race and it will suit the boat; it’s set up for passage racing more than windward/leewards. The boat will club race on Pittwater while it’s being prepared for our first offshore event including bringing the Cat 2 safety requirements up to scratch and testing our slightly modified sail program designed for open water.

“All of us on board have done plenty of Coffs races over the years. One of the best for me was on the Mumm 36 Mad Men in 1994; we were on the rail the whole way and took first over the line. I enjoy the race because the fleet squashes against the coast, so you get good boat-on-boat racing. Also navigating around Seal Rocks is fun, there’s always lots of sea life plus it’s a quick race at a day and a half – the family doesn’t hate you – and that’s valuable.”

The DK46 Khaleesi sailing for Middle Harbour Yacht Club is a first-time entry for owners Andrew and Pauline Dally who attempted a start in 2006 with their previous boat but were dramatically holed in a collision and bumped out. The same DK46 collected the top IRC prize in 2014 for previous owner Rob Reynolds (Exile) and third in division B for the Dallys at this year’s IRC Australian title at Hamilton Island.

“We aren’t ramped up enough to go to Hobart and Coffs is a good option because we know the other DK Nine Dragons will be on the start line,” said Andrew Dally. “We’ve only had day races against them and we want to see how we pair up offshore. To be able to hold onto Quest we are hoping for a light air race or really strong nor’easters.”

Bob Cox’s Nine Dragons is proven under IRC handicap in the post New Year sprint north to the Coffs Coast, finishing second overall on IRC handicap in 2012. Over the last 18 months Cox and his team have concentrated on regattas, with a high degree of success. Nine Dragons reduced the opposition to cinders in Class B at the Newcastle IRC Australian Championship in 2014 and the NSW IRC title at Port Stephens in April, where the boat and crew again out-performed the strong fleet.

The skipper says it’s time for them to take on a medium distance offshore race and likewise, they are looking forward to taking on Khaleesi. “Of course we are hoping the conditions favour the DKs this time around, that way we can give Quest a real test. If it’s blowy and there’s a lot of downhill we expect he’ll sail away from us. We’ll have Steve McConaghy and Scott Hinton on board, to buy a bit of insurance,” Cox added.

So far 15 monohulls and three multihulls feature on the starting list. Those still to nominate for the 226 nautical mile coastal race that begins just north of Barrenjoey Headland at 1pm on January 2 will enjoy the simple and streamlined online entry process and can choose to enter a monohull and be scored under IRC, ORCi, and PHS handicap systems, a multihull (OMR handicap) or the short-handed division.

The race record set in 2003 by Robert Oatley/Mark Richards and Wild Oats IX in a time of 18hr 29min 14sec is proving a tough benchmark to beat.

Enter here before Friday December 4, 2015.

By Lisa Ratcliff /RPAYC media


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