Race is on to win 2024 Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race

Over 30 boats will be on the start line for the 2024 Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race this Friday when monohulls, a multihull and two-handed entries will share the start line off Barrenjoey Headland for the 1pm start.

Respected sailor, Theresa Michell, has joined forces with Paul Beath and his J/99, Verite, for their first major two-handed race together. Newcomers to the Pittwater Coffs, Beath did the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart in two-handed mode with another co-skipper. He and Michell’s first two-handed training session was a four-day return trip from Hobart.

“It was all upwind. Not particularly pleasant,” Beath remembered. “One of the reasons she is doing this race with me is because she sailed with me fully crewed in the Sydney Gold Coast race and the rest of the Blue Water Pointscore last year and we get on well.

“And this race is at a nice time of year,” the Novocastrian said of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s (RPAYC) 226 nautical mile race.

From the start line of previous Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race

Although she halted racing at the end of the 1990s to raise a family, Michell’s credentials are outstanding in both two-handed and fully-crewed sailing, as a skipper, navigator and crew.

She contested the 5500 nautical mile two-handed Melbourne to Osaka race in 1999 on an Adams 10 that she also skippered in the 1998 Double-Handed Trans-Tasman Challenge from Sydney to New Plymouth in New Zealand. She has sailed on the international scene, done Sydney Hobarts and sailed an Olympic class dinghy.

“This is a new team in a new race and we think it’s a good distance. We’ll get our systems together and get organised,” Beath commented.

“It will be a demanding race because of the currents and fluctuating conditions.”

The pair are expected to be competitive against all-comers, including other two-handed entries such as Chris O’Neill, who returns with Blue Planet after finishing the race seventh overall last year.

“We also won PHS and were second in ORC – and these results were exactly the same in the two-handed division,” he said.

This time he will be co-skippered by Tom Johnston, who helped him to sixth in the two-handed division of the 2023 Sydney Hobart.

“It’s a fun race and a good location in Coffs, it’s not too strenuous and importantly, there’s been sufficient time between this race and the Sydney Hobart – I’ve forgotten all the pain,” O’Neill said wryly.

Among the latest fully crewed entries for the 38th ‘Pittwater to Coffs’ is David Griffith’s record breaking JV62 Whisper, which will likely battle Geoff Hill’s Santa Cruz 72, Antipodes, for line honours. Whisper is also a favourite for the overall win, but due to the many weather vagaries at this time of year, the race really is wide open in all classifications.

On his quarry, Whisper’s owner says: “With her long waterline length, if Antipodes gets reaching conditions, she is quick, she will take off. We’re in pretty good shape though and the boat’s in perfect order.”

Griffith says his crew will also hold them in good stead. Among them are Rear Admiral Lee Goddard, Michael Coxon, Dougie McGain, Michael Fountain and Brett Van Munster.  

“Either way, it’s a wonderful race and the Alfreds do a great job,” Griffith said. “Everyone loves a destination race and Coffs Harbour is a great destination with lots to do.”

Others chasing overall glory are regular DK46 rivals Khaleesi (Sandy Farquharson/Rob Aldis) and LCE Old School Racing (Mark Griffith). At the Nautilus Marine Insurance Sydney Harbour Regatta in early March, the latter placed second in the Open division, while Khaleesi was third. Another DK46, Nine Dragons, was declared the winner. 

Pierre Gal has entered the Asia catamaran Stealth 12.60 named Fez. The French expat, who lives on the NSW north coast, is a name locally and internationally, competing in the America’s Cup for France and has Australian victories too.

Incidentally, Gal won Division 4 of the 2019 Sydney Gold Coast race with Mistral, the same Lombard 34 that won the 2023 Pittwater Coffs race for two-handed sailors, Rupert Henry and Greg O’Shea last year.

Follow the fleet on the race tracker at: https://yb.tl/pittwater2024

For all information go to: www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au

Di Pearson/RPAYC media