The Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race has developed over its 32 year history into one of the most popular of all ocean-racing events in Australia. The race offers competitors a strategic challenge as they race between the surfline and the current, past unsurpassed scenic coastlines, prior to arriving in one of Australia's most popular coastal cities.
Originally competitors raced north to Solitary Island before returning to Broken Bay, although the introduction of a world class marina at Coffs Harbour and the holiday appeal of the coastal town prompted race organisers to halve the course distance. The event soon developed into a series with the introduction of races off the Palm Beach Circle, close to Barrenjoey Headland & a final race around the beautiful Islands of the "Solitary Island Marine Park". The event, as it is now, is in its 33rd year and is considered to be the "warm water" alternative to the Sydney to Hobart Race. The course covers 226 nautical miles of the NSW coastline, traveling north from Broken Bay to Coffs Harbour. In 2012, the series was renamed to become a regatta and follows the same shape introduced a couple of years back with the Pittwater to Coffs race being the first race starting on 2 January 2012 followed by four races in Coffs Harbour over two consecutive days on 5-6 January.
A variety of yachts and sailors from around the world enter the series from year to year. Previously, yachts such as the winner of the 2006 race, Bob Oatley's "Wild Oats XI". Many high profile yachts from the world's top designers compete for Line Honours and the race record. Nicorette, Ragamuffin, Hollywood Boulevard, Aftershock, Infinity III, Grundig, Heaven Can Wait, Illbruck, WIld Joe and Wild Oats X are just a few. Some of these yachts complete in the Sydney to Hobart before the delivery crew rush the yacht back for the January 2nd start.
It is a highly strategic competition due to the prevailing Australian east coast currents that flow south. In general, this means that the best strategy is to stay close to the coast, in the shallower water. Most competitors wish for southerly winds, meaning that the conditions are easier and fast times can be achieved. If the northeast sea breezes are prevalent, conditions become very challenging. Most boats will short tack up the coast where the winds tend to ease at night.
Each of the competing boats will have a YB tracker onboard. These will report the boats GPS position along with other items of information such as speed and direction. All of this information goes from the tracker through the Iridium satellite network to the YB servers then on to the online race map. The positions, along with the leader board will be updated every fifteen minutes, meaning that friends, family and supporters left on dry land can follow every twist and turn of this exhilarating race.
For more information on this race please visit the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race website.