2012 Pittwater and Coffs Harbour Regatta and Rally: New lease of life

The Fleet at the the start of the 30th race leave Barrenjoey - 2012 Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta & Rally
Damian Devine
After thirty years of racing to Coffs Harbour every summer, skippers and crew from The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club can rightly say they know intuitively, every nautical mile of this annual, classic Yacht Race.

But after 30 years of enjoying the annual event, RPAYC Commodore Russell Murphy and Coffs Committee Chairman Richard Hudson agree that whilst the Classic Yacht Race will continue, there needs to be a change, allowing more boat owners and crew the chance to participate and race around the Majestic Solitary Islands off the Coast of Coffs Harbour.


When the Fleet leaves the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club on January 2 next year, The Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race will be just one element of the expanded aquatic series boasting a new name and format.

A five race regatta is planned kicking off with the 31st Pittwater to Coffs Harbour ocean race on 2nd January followed by four races in Coffs Harbour over two consecutive days on the 5th and 6th January with a windward/leeward sprint followed by a longer race around the South Solitary Islands each day.

Hudson, Murphy and Coffs Harbour Yacht Club Commodore Garry Innes, all agreed that the event would be rebadged as 'The Pittwater and Coffs Harbour Regatta and Rally', to allow cruising boats to join in the event.

'The traditional 226nm Pittwater to Coffs Harbour ocean race will remain the highlight, with racing yachts still able to enjoy the opportunity to stretch their legs in the tactical race north, as they have done for 30 years,' said Hudson.

'Upon arrival, the Solitary Islands off-shore races will extend to four over two days and will be termed a ‘regatta’, which is a more precise description of what occurs.'

'As far as the rally goes probably the best way to describe it is to think of boats cruising in company, rather than taking place in a race. Boats entering specifically for this event will start from Pittwater as normal, stopping overnight at ports, as they head north to Coffs Harbour.'

'Once they arrive in Coffs Harbour they can join in the social activities and the four races over the two days along with the boats that raced there, in their own Division. This new format has the potential to increase the number of boats competing at different levels of sailing without the pressure of racing, without taking away the tradition and stature of the main event,' Hudson added.

RPAYC Commodore Russell Murphy said, 'I was enormously proud of the 30th Pittwater - Coffs Harbour Classic where all the pre-race work produced good fleet sizes, quality racing and some fabulous social events at Coffs Harbour Yacht Club. Planning is well underway for the 2012 regatta and I think with the format itself and the addition of the Cruising Rally, yachtsmen and women can expect a superior event both on and off water that is family oriented and fun. I invite everyone to join in and look forward to seeing you at the RPAYC and in Coffs Harbour.'

The 30th event IRC & PHS overall series winners, the CYCA’s Julian Farren-Price’s Cookson 12 ‘About Time’ (IRC) and RPAYC’s Garry Holder’s ID 35 ‘The Real Thing’ (PHS) have vowed to defend their coveted titles in 2012.

Julian Farren-Price's 'About Time' IRC Handicap winner 2011Coffs race & series - Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta 2012
Chris Stone

Farren-Price, also the current IRC Pittwater to Coffs race handicap winner is looking forward to racing in the regatta. He commented, 'The Coffs regatta is a great formula. The break between Christmas and New Year allows families time together during the holiday season then keen sailors can have their time competing in the warm water series. The race to Coffs is always a fascinating tactical battle with wind and current strategies critical to a good result. The nights can make or break you.'

'It’s always a delight to arrive at Coffs Harbour, a destination where the weather is nice, people are friendly and you get greeted with a cold case of beer. The racing off Coffs Harbour is a treat with two natural marks in the form of the Solitary Islands and a picturesque coastline. There is a nice camaraderie between crews at Coffs and the few days of the regatta allows people to get together and know each other better.'

'Many sailors combine the Coffs series with a family holiday. There is some great child friendly accommodation at Coffs with plenty of things for the family to enjoy while the racing is on.Even the delivery back from Coffs is a great trip with good friends, the current with you and a spinnaker up in a sparkling Northeaster, 24 hours later your home, what more would you want?' commented Farren-Price.

The regatta will have Divisions for IRC, PHS, Cruising and Shorthanded.

The Shorthanded Division had its inaugural year in 2011 and their inclusion in the 30th Anniversary event was warmly welcomed by the shorthanded sailors who don’t get longer offshore race opportunities in Australia and so relished the challenge over the 226nm distance. For the most part they had a bit on with strong running conditions and gusts up to 40knots and were not able to afford to let up for one minute. These sailors certainly earned the respect of the rest of the fleet in the Coffs race. The RPAYC invite and welcome more shorthanded sailors to join in the regatta in 2012.

Both Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and Coffs Harbour Yacht Club are excited about the changes that have been made for 2012.

The Notice of Race will be available soon. Competitors will be able to submit their entry online via the event website which will be launched to coincide with the NOR release.

Nick Johnston's Lidguard 50 'Santana 3' racing in the Solitary Islands, a vital part of the 2012 regatta - 2012 Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta & Rally
Damian Devine

'Wild Oats X' skippered by Mark Richards crosses the finish line in Coffs Harbour to take line honours in the 2011 race. - Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta 2012
Chris Stone