The Strathfield Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race is confirmed as one of Australia's most popular long offshore race, as evidenced by the high level of entries for the January 2003 event.
At the close of entry time last Friday, the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club had received seventy nine confirmed entries. It is anticipated there will also be several applications for late entry. This is the largest fleet of yachts for a long offshore race in Australia since the Strathfield Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race earlier this year. Coupled with the new Cruising Division of up to twelve entries, Coffs Harbour could well see an influx of over a hundred yachts in the New Year.
This race forms part of the Strathfield Pittwater and Coffs Harbour Offshore Series 2002-2003, which sees two days of racing either side of the ocean race. The Pittwater race days will be held on Broken Bay on December 28th and 29th 2002, whilst the Coffs Harbour racing takes place on January the 5th and 6th 2003.
Race Director, Steve Merrington commented "The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and the Strathfield Car Radio Group are thrilled with the high level of support for this event. We were expecting entries to be down a little this year, but it looks as though we will have more boats sailing to Coffs than last year. Our organising committee is working hard towards providing a high standard of racing, a safe racing environment and a heap of fun off the water for all competitors and their families in Coffs Harbour".
The largest yacht so far entered in the series is the pocket maxi Bobsled, entered by a syndicate headed by Coffs Harbour Yacht Club Commodore, Paul Jolly. She is re-named Coffs Harbour Challenger for this event and will carry a crew consisting entirely of Coffs Harbour sailors. Bob Oatley's state-of-the-art 60 foot canting-keel speedster Wild Oats is also entered. She will be out to break the long standing Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Race record of just under twenty one hours, set by The Office in 1984.
Fifteen identical Sydney38 One Designs have entered the Strathfield Series; in what will be Australia's largest ever grouping of one design yachts in a long ocean race.
The smallest yacht entered is Anthony Peterson's Mumm 30 Tow Truck, from Lake Macquarie. Early IRC handicap favourites include Warren John's famed 50 footer Heaven Can Wait and twice overall winner of the Sydney to Hobart Race, Alan Quick's Farr 47 Ausmaid. In the IMS handicap division, Townsville's Wayne Millar in the Murray 41 Zoe will face stiff competition from Howard Piggott's Beneteau 40.7 True North.
New designs entered include the Northshore 369 Avanti, owned by Ken Murphy and Gary Riley and the radical Thompson 980 Navman Gladiator entered by Shaun Lewecki.
All race entrants are Australian. Seventy three entrants hail from New South Wales, five from Queensland and one from the ACT. Thirty five yachts have entered the IRC handicap division. Thirty four vessels will sail under the PHS handicap division. The IMS handicap division has seven entries.