January 28 - February 3, 2024: Issue 611


Early entries start ball rolling for 2024 Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race

Richard Hudson of RPAYC:  In the Rolex Sydney Hobart Divisional winner was Pretty Woman - Corinthian PHS. Richard Hudson steered his Farr 45, Pretty Woman, to Corinthian PHS honours in the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and scored a divisional second and won the IRC Corinthian Trophy in the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart. Mr. Hudson again blends experience with younger sailors from his home Club, Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, allowing many young sailors to experience offshore racing at its toughest. 

RPAYC/Rolex Sydney Hobart photo

Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (RPAYC) has opened entries to eligible monohull, multihull and two-handed boats for the 2024 Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race to start at 1pm on Friday 22 March. 

Two-handed entries for the 38th running of the race are expected to be popular again, after Rupert Henry and Greg O’Shea won the  2023 race overall with Henry’s Lombard 34, Mistral. Two-handers also claimed second (Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth), fourth, sixth and seventh places. 

Two-handers also nabbed the top five places overall under ORC, with Jules Hall’s Disko-Trooper_Contender Sailcloth, co-skippered by Jan Scholten, taking the top place from Chris O’Neill’s Blue Planet, co-skippered by Ian Smith and Shane Connelly’s Rum Rebellion, co-skippered by Tony Sutton. 

Martin and John Cross led the overall standings for a time last year but ultimately placed sixth overall and fourth in the two-handed division. 

“We’ve done the race a few times before. We won all the two-handed divisions the first year we did it,” Cross recalled of he and son John’s victory on Transcendence Crento. 

“Obviously the competition increased last year and that’s a good thing. It was high quality with Mistral and Disko Trooper. Both have won the Sydney Hobart two-handed division.

“It was a small boat race last year, so it wasn’t surprising to see them do well. No matter what, you have to go hard, because everyone else is sailing to their capabilities.”

Cross said he and John will be on the start line again this year: “We’ll be there. The father and son thing is something we enjoy,” he said.  

Working hard on Transcendence Crento. Photo: Bow Caddy Media

Marc Depret has entered his Beneteau Figaro 3, Intiy, in the two-handed division after placing 17th under ORC for eighth in the two-handed division in 2023.

On the fully crewed front, Queenslander Geoff Tomlins has entered Flat White, a Radford 12.2 owned by Jen Linkova. It will be Flat White’s first tilt at the race. It is also a first for Tomlins and his entire crew. 

“None of the crew have done the race before. There’ll be six of us. Four are from Queensland and one each from Wollongong (NSW) and Geelong (Vic),” Tomlins said. 

“We’re excited about doing the Pittwater to Coffs. It’s a different sort of race for us. We’ll be spending a couple of days in Coffs before heading off to do the other major races in our program.” 

Richard Hudson is another regular entrant with the modified IC45, Pretty Woman. The local sailor’s crew will again feature youths from RPAYC.

“We’re getting back into short course racing with the Pittwater Regatta first. It will help polish our crew work before the Pittwater to Coffs,” said Hudson, who along with his crew, scored a divisional second and won the IRC Corinthian Trophy in December’s Rolex Sydney Hobart. 

“I enjoy the Coffs Race and it’s a good destination. There’s lots for crews and family to do in Coffs,” he said. 

Richard Hudson's Pretty Woman is back. Photo: Bow Caddy Media 

Both multihull and monohull records are on the line in 2024. Rex, the ORMA 60 skippered by Dale Mitchell (Qld), broke the multihull record in 2023, set by another ORMA 60 in 2014. Rex clipped just 5 seconds off that record in the time of 17 hours 3 minutes, despite weather indicating a slower race. 

However, the monohull record set by Peter Harburg’s 100 foot Black Jack (Qld) in 2022 of 17hrs 10mins 31secs remained safe, as Andoo Comanche’s wide hull was not suited to the softer conditions.

Notice of Race and entry can be found on the official website: www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au with entries closing at 1700 hours on 8 March. 

by Di Pearson