Second Black Jack for East Coast circuit

With two Grand Prix level ocean racing yachts at his disposal, including one that's brand new, Peter Harburg has been struggling to decide which to use for the inaugural ‘High Summer' east coast offshore circuit that starts with the 29th Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race on January 2 and ends with Sail Paradise off the Gold Coast … so he's decided to use both!

Brisbane based Harburg plans to race his well proven and successful Reichel/Pugh 66, Black Jack, in the Pittwater to Coffs race, then he and many of his team, including skipper Mark ‘Squark' Bradford, will jump across to his brand new Reichel/Pugh 42 (which will carry the same name) for the remainder of the races north to the Gold Coast.

The new yacht – which is already being referred to as ‘Junior' – will compete in the inaugural Coffs to Paradise race starting January 7, then the five-day Sail Paradise series off the Gold Coast from January 10 to 14.

However, there is a proviso attached to this plan: should arch rival Bob Oatley and his skipper Mark Richards rush back from the Rolex Sydney Hobart race and enter Black Jack's near sistership, Wild Oats X, for the entire circuit, then Harburg will match them all the way with the big Black Jack.

Harburg's new yacht, which is essentially a smaller version of the currently popular TP 52 class, is under construction at Dave Biggar's Stallion Marine facility located north of Brisbane. For Biggar – who sails as the strategist aboard Black Jack and is well known for his production catamarans – this is the first offshore racing monohull his company has built. It is scheduled to be launched mid-December.

The boat has been purpose-built for racing on Brisbane's Moreton Bay, which is often infamous for its shallow water when it comes to keelboats. Harburg's even gone to the extreme of having a lifting keel designed so the yacht can be docked more easily.

Bradford said he and the Black Jack team were looking forward to the exciting challenges the new east coast circuit will provide: the northern sector will make an interesting extension to the highly popular and historic, 226 nautical mile Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race. The Coffs to Paradise race will be a 150nm overnight sprint to the Gold Coast. Sail Paradise will comprise an interesting array of contests on courses set just off the Gold Coast's magnificent ocean beaches. Both Queensland events will be staged by Southport Yacht Club. Completing the entire package will be three sprint races, one off Pittwater on December 31, and two off Coffs Harbour.

Multihull, cruising and sportboat divisions will be included in Sail Paradise. Trophies will be awarded to placegetters in each individual stage, and there will be a Perpetual Trophy for the winner of the entire circuit. Participants will be able to contest all races or just one.

It is expected that the Sail Paradise fleet will be further boosted by a significant number of local entries from the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Mooloolaba, many of which will be contesting the famous Surf to City race from the Gold Coast to Brisbane on January 16.

Already backed by support from Gold Coast City Council and Gold Coast Tourism, the organisers at the northern end of this circuit are planning a social agenda that will match the sailing. As well as there being considerable activity scheduled for the club's headquarters at Main Beach, a fun day for competitors, their families and friends is being set for Southport Yacht Club's three-acre facility on nearby South Stradbroke Island during Sail Paradise. Other holiday activities for families on the Gold Coast can include the many theme parks, golf courses and trips to the magnificent hills of the hinterland, in particular Mt Tamborine.

The Notice of Race for the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race, the Coffs to Paradise race and Sail Paradise can be found at www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au or www.southportyachtclub.com.au

More information can be obtained from the Sailing Manager at RPAYC, Chris Stone, at chriss@rpayc.com.au or from Southport Yacht Club on (07) 5591 3500.

Released by Rob Mundle: rob.mundle@bigpond.com

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