Pittwater to Coffs – Line honours to XS Moment – Jupiter wins overall

Fortune favoured the sticklers in the 2024 Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race; just three entries hung on in the light to non-existent breezes, Ray Hudson’s XS Moment taking line honours just after midnight last night, while the two-handed crew of Ian Smith and Billy Sykes on Jupiter crossed the line second to claim overall honours.

The final boat to finish the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s 38th running of the race, Transcendence Rudy Project, was sailed two-handed by the father/son combination of Martin and John Cross. They finished nearly an hour after Jupiter in 2d 18h 7m 22s . All three crews are to be lauded for the courage of their convictions in finishing the protracted race while all others gave it away, mainly due to work commitments this morning.

XS Moment, an XP44 design, finished the race to Coffs Harbour at 00.36.38 hours this morning in the time of 2 days 11 hours 36 minutes 38 seconds. For her crew’s efforts, XS Moment’s crew were rewarded with third overall and a Division 1 win.

“We were actually near the top of leaderboard when the retirements started, so we decided to give it a bit more time and thought, ‘Stuff, we’ll hang in,” Ray Hudson said this morning.

“It was looking pretty awful at Seal Rocks where most retired from, but the skipper (Hudson) was silly enough to make the decision to keep racing and the crew were happy to hang in. It made it worthwhile to stay in,” Hudson said.

“I have a new saying,” XS Moment’s owner/skipper said: ‘If you’re silly enough to race you should be wise enough to finish.’”

Hudson and crew were happy they held their resolve because, “A 9 knot sou’ wester came in about three hours after Pretty Woman retired and we made the best of it.

“It was just under 60 hours of racing (just short of the longest Pittwater Coffs when in 1982, line honours winner, Short Circuit, took 62h, 33m, 57s to complete the course), but it felt longer than the four Sydney Hobarts I’ve done. Our perseverance paid off.”

Ian Smith’s two-handed entry, Jupiter, co-skippered by Billy Sykes, finished at 06.36.15am this morning, completing the course in  2d 17h 36m 15s to win the race overall and win Division 2. They swept all before them except for ORC overall.

Smith shared: “We were here to race. We had no intention of pulling out. I think for most others (retirees) it was work as the conditions looked like a shutdown all the way.”

Jupiter’s owner described the conditions: “Light, but good in patches, we got 12 knots and a bit stronger from the west coming into Coffs. None of it was predicted. It ended up being an enjoyable race, notwithstanding the wind holes. We kept pushing on and making up 5 percent here and 10 percent there. It all adds up eventually.

“We’re very happy with our win. The race was worthwhile. We were going to be there for however long it took. Billy is an elite sailor and in double-handers you really have to an all-rounder with you.

“We had a mistake-free race. The secret is transitioning into the next phase of the race. We had a pre-race strategy and we executed it. We played a strategic game, not one major thing, lots of 5 percenters,” Smith said.

“We are appreciative of both the Royal Prince Alfred and Coffs Harbour Yacht Clubs  for putting the race on. It takes a lot of volunteers to make it happen and it can’t be done without them.

“XS Moment did a great job hanging in,” Smith ended.

From Transcendence Rudy Project, it was a good second place overall. Her owner, Martin Cross said, “What a race. It’s a race that will be remembered. Looks like we’ve won ORC.” They did – and in doing so, also won ORC Division 2.

“It’s really funny, because for most, Seal Rocks was the nadir. It was actually beautiful, glassed out, ships standing still. It looked like a painting. That was the moment we decided to stay with it.

“It took us around six hours to get around Seal Rocks. You’d get a bit of breeze, get momentum and then it would die again. If you forgot you were racing, it was beautiful, with the sunset, sea life and still water.”

However, Cross was not happy with the wind gods: “They were terrible to us most the time. We were up and down like snakes and ladders. If it was not for the un forecast bits of wind at the end, we’d still be out there.

“I play great tribute to my co-skipper and son John. He showed great tenacity and effort in us keeping on going. It’s a great father and son memory and one of the best offshore races we’ve done because it was so smooth.”

All three finishers said they would do the race again.

Despite a low count on finishers, Coffs Harbour Yacht Club graciously put out the welcome mat to competitors and officials.

For all information go to: www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au

Di Pearson/RPAYC media

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