Race record holder Wild Oats will have a battle on her hands if Hasso PLATTNER'S Reichel Pugh Z86, Morning Glory, due to be launched in early December, makes the startline on 2 January.
The McConaghy built turbo sled, designed for downwind races like the Transpac, could easily break Wild Oats 2003 line honours record of 18 hour 29 minutes and 14 seconds, if a southerly front blasts up the 224 nautical mile course to Coffs Harbour.
Construction of the new 86 footer, which has a similar canting keel system to Wild Oats, is right on schedule at McConaghy's Mona Vale facility.
Owner's representative, the highly experienced American sailor Dee Smith explains"We are very keen to race to Coffs Harbour, however we will have a better idea of our position after the launch on December 8th.
'Morning Glory has to be on a freighter out of Australia in early January, so the timing will be tight no matter what happens.'
The 23rd Strathfield Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Offshore series starts this year on December 27th 2003, with the long race commencing on January 2nd 2004.
Meanwhile Admiral's Cup winner and last years race winner Wild Oats, is still waiting for dispensation from the Yachting Australia Blue Book rule, which currently preclude boats with static heel of greater than 10% racing offshore.
Owner Bob OATLEY hopes a November 25th meeting of the Yachting NSW Offshore committee will grant the same dispensation they provided last year.
The strict limit on the total number of entries has meant that long before the December 5th initial close of entries, there are already 70 entries, 40 more than at the same time last year.
The 2003 fleet is clearly going to be very competitive. There are already 15 Sydney 38 One Designs, with more expected according to Class Association Manager Simon REFFOLD.
A large Beneteau 40.7 fleet is assured, with seven entries already, led by 1999 Hamilton Island Race Week winner, Brian Saunders Fireball.
With interstate and international entries flooding in, the Race Committee has already started reviewing the applications for entry to select a group of boats, between 60-65, depending on the mix of drafts and lengths. The selection process starts with boats competing in the complete series.
Champagne on Ice, amongst others, have advised they will not need a berth up in Coffs. As they are only doing the passage race, they will re-fuel and return directly back to home port, just after finishing.
If skippers indicate they intend to cross the finish line and sail to another port, under this arrangement, RPAYC race officials will add extra boats to the fleet.