The 2018 Club Marine Pittwater to Paradise Regatta, commencing Tuesday 2 January, is shaping up to be a race of stamina and tactics for the highly competitive fleet; many of which are of very similar size and performance.
From the Bay of Islands, NZ, Rp42 Rikki and her crew of 11 including owner and skipper Ray Haslar, sailed from their home base of Keri Keri Yacht Club to Newcastle, a 1,000nm journey ahead of the Race.
Ray, who has sailed a few Sydney Hobarts, including aboard Rikki in 2012, and competed in the Sydney to Southport winter race three times, said the voyage was “mostly boring” with barely any wind, until they hit a southerly buster just off Newcastle.
“That woke us up! We said ‘welcome to Australia’ and we changed gear and battled it all the way in.”
The crew has swapped Rikki’s delivery sails to racing wardrobe and will head to Pittwater shortly. “It was a very convenient route for us,” said Ray of the “nice triangle” from Keri Keri to Newcastle, where they cleared Customs, then post-race from Southport Yacht Club Marina, which is now operating as a Customs Clearance Site, back home.
Ray is confident Rikki will prove competitive in this year’s P2P, tipping the race record could even be broken by any one of the performance craft in this year’s line-up.
“We have a very experienced crew. They will fly over on 1 January, leaving the whole town empty! There definitely could be a new race record, it just depends on the wind and the currents. And they’re always against you!”
Returning to Category 2 sailing after a 10-year hiatus is Salvatore Ridulfo, owner of the First 44.7 Galileo. “I have competed in the Sydney to Southport before, but have been mostly cruising and sailing in Sydney Harbour for the past decade.”
Undertaking the last “frantic preparations” ahead of the start and a week on the Gold Coast for the subsequent Bartercard Cup, Salvatore said he was aiming for a 50/50 split of men and women on his crew, but with their various competing commitments, crew have panned out to be four women and eight men.
“Of course, we are competitive, and with a really nice breeze we’ll be up there somewhere in the race leaders, but we take it all with a pinch of salt. Our main priority is safety and arriving in one piece.”
There will be no sharing toothbrushes, nor scrimping on gourmet grub for this proud Italian-Australian and his hungry crew! “Helen is in charge of the food and we have a big fridge. Everybody chips in with their favourite recipe, so no, we won’t starve. Winning isn’t everything you know!”
Auric’s Quest, a Nelson Merck 46 based at Southport Yacht Club and helmed by owner, Fred Bestall was the Champion of the 2017 Sail Paradise Series on the Gold Coast. This year, Fred hopes to reign in the double – victory in both the Club Marine Pittwater to Paradise Regatta and the Bartercard Sail Paradise 2018 series.
“Our engine died last year, so we pulled out of the P2P, but the boat is in good shape and going fast,” said Fred, who has owned the yacht, a winner of the Coffs Race, IRC Nationals and 2002 Sydney Hobart, for the past 18 months.
The key to bringing home this year’s P2P, according to Fred, is “more bodies”.
“When we sailed in the Admiral’s Cup Regatta with two of the original Sydney Hobart crew, we found that weight distribution was vital to getting the best out of the boat, which is basically a 46ft dinghy. We have a crew of 10, include Bruce Maize, Andy Gage and Kim Dowdney.
“We would like to do well. There are some highly competitive yachts in the race, and it’s quite a level playing field. We should do well against the canting keels in the IRC and, because of the boat’s age, in the ORCI as well.
“Our aim is to sail consistently, make the most of the conditions and not break too much stuff!”
Following the 370nm category 2 ocean race is the Southport Yacht Club’s spectacular summer offshore sailing regatta, the Bartercard Sail Paradise series. Four days of racing will be staged on the beautiful ocean waters off the Gold Coast’s golden beaches from Saturday 6th to Tuesday 9th January 2018. Both events have been combined to create a new offshore series for competitors and the ultimate winner of the ‘Pittwater to Paradise Regatta’.
New this year is the element of “State vs State, Mate vs Mate”, with the introduction of a State of Origin Trophy for the winning state. The State of Origin Trophy will be awarded based on the lowest aggregate score of the best three boats from NSW and the best three boats from Queensland in the IRC Overall results.
“The State of Origin Trophy adds another competitive layer to the Race,” said Brendan Rourke, Sailing & Communications Manager at Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (RPAYC).
“It was commissioned by Custom Trophies, NSW to bring interstate fun rivalry between NSW and Queensland entrants in the P2P. It will become a Perpetual trophy and be displayed at either RPAYC or SYC depending on the state that wins.”
RPAYC Commodore Michael Lockley said the gauntlet has been thrown down for the Queenslanders, outnumbered in this year’s event by NSW boats.
“We’re fairly confident we have this one in the bag,” he said. “We know the trip up the Coast very well, and we have an unrivalled depth of knowledge. But in the end, it’s up to how well you play the game. It’s a bit of friendly rivalry and we hope to build it up over the years.
“Whoever wins, enjoys the accolades . . . and shouts at the bar at SYC!”
SYC Commodore Kerry Noyes said Queensland is destined to win. “They might have the numbers, but we have the skill and the passion. Maroons, even when outnumbered, rise to the challenge and cross the line, cleanly and fairly, when it counts.
“We’ve cleared a space in our Fo'c's'le Room and can’t wait to see ‘Queensland’ engraved in fancy calligraphy on the first plaque.”
As far as silverware goes, the main trophy is the new P2P IRC Winner which was designed and produced by hand by Steve Moxham.
The Trophy itself is a distinctive design, made from carbon fibre with 316 stainless steel sails. The Red Timber base of the trophy is made from Eucalyptus Robusta, commonly known as Swamp Mahogany or Swamp Messmate. The small pieces of black timber between the sails and between the pieces of mahogany is 10,000-year-old mineralised Murray River Red Gum which was unearthed 20m below the bed of the Murray River.
The official weather briefing will take place at 9am on Tuesday 2 January at RPAYC. While it’s too far out to forecast the wind and weather conditions for this year’s Club Marine Pittwater to Paradise Regatta, Gabrielle Woodhouse from the Bureau of Meteorology can say there will be king tides in early January that could have some impact on yachts retiring and needing to head in.
For more information visit http://www.pittwatertoparadise.com.au/