The 226nm Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Ocean Yacht Race has developed into one of the most popular of all ocean-racing events in Australia. This race offers competitors a strategic challenge as they race past unsurpassed scenic coastlines, prior to arriving in one of Australia's most popular coastal cities.
The 2015 regatta format will consist of two separate events the Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour race being the first race starting on 2 January 2015 followed by a pursuit race in Coffs Harbour on the 5 January. The Coffs Harbour Solitary Islands race will be a pursuit handicap start race starting from midday followed by post race live entertainment and presentation.
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. These races consist of a 8nm sprint windward-leeward race followed immediately by a 20nm offshore race around the majestic South Solitary Islands making it a five race regatta.
A variety of yachts and sailors from around the world enter the series from year to year. Previously, yachts such as Bob Oatley's "Wild Oats XI", a 100footer & winner of the 2007 passage race to the 50 year old veteran, the 30ft timber yacht "Lahara", designed by Jock Muir have entered the race. 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 (3 time winner 2005/06/11) 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. In 2014 Mulithulls were invited to participate in the Ocean Race and this category will continue for 2015.
The race also provides a great competition between the smaller classes such as the Beneteau 40.7s and Cookson 12s.
The race is highly strategic, as the prevailing Australian east coast current flows 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 are very challenging. Most boats will short tack up the coast where the winds tend to ease at night. Tidal "gates" come into play.
The Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Regatta welcomes naming sponsor Club Marine to the event for the third consecutive year.