Michael Martin’s TP 52, Frantic is storming up the NSW coast, leaving the rest of the 2018 Club Marine Pittwater to Paradise fleet in its wake and consistent southerlies are likely to push her to the finish line well ahead of the pack, with estimates putting her arrival at between 6am and 7am QLD time, Thursday 4 January.
It will be no race record, Frantic trailing the position of race record holder, the Rogers 46 Shakti, owned by Doug Coulter, by around 69 nm.
In a tussle for second position are Nine Dragons, Bob Cox’s Dk 46, and Pretty Woman, the Farr 45 co-owned by RPAYC Commodore, Michael Lockley, Richard Hudson and Russell Murphy.
Speaking from onboard Nine Dragons, roughly 3 nm out to see off Hat Head, Edward Hawthorne said the south-easterly was providing “exhilarating sailing”.
“We saw a few storms, but it wasn’t too wild. We caught a 25 knot breeze which was helpful, but we blew up a spinnaker, which was a bit of a shock. We’re a bit slower than we’d like, but once it eases off, we’ll try a different spinnaker. Right now, we’re focused on chasing Frantic.”
Biting at their heels, or rather “riding the tail of the Dragon” as Michael Lockley put it, was Pretty Woman.
“We got plenty of breeze, around 31 knots, which is good for us. We’re sailing at about 20 knots boat speed and quite happy. We missed the storms, but we saw them.”
Mick Martin, owner of Frantic, “is definitely pot hunting” said Michael, referring to Frantic’s dizzying schedule of sailing since the Boxing Day start of the Sydney Hobart.
“From our estimates, if Frantic can hold it together, they’ll scoop line honours sometime in the early morning.”
The NSW contingent, including Frantic, is “on fire”, added Michael, quietly confident the State of Origin Trophy is in the bag for the southerners.
One yacht that definitely doesn’t want to get involved in State of Origin argy-bargy is Rikki, Ray Haslar’s RP42 from the Bay of Islands, NZ.
“Hell no!” said Navigator, Andy Shields. “We are not getting involved in that one. We might start a war.”
Andy reported Rikki suffered a torn mainsail around Port Macquarie, “which wasn’t too good”.
“We jibed and ripped it and some batons. But we are proceeding under reduced sail and we have the best sail experts in the world fixing it now,” he said, praising the quick thinking and skills of his Kiwi compatriots.
“We are still moving and our intention is to continue. We have no injuries, everybody is feeling good. We copped some 30 knot southerlies around the Central Coast.”
Onboard Sydney 36CR Amante, Dennis Cooper and his crew are recovering from the effects of a bout of food poisoning which struck before the race start.
“No idea what gave us the food poisoning, but the sea air has fixed us,” said Dennis, adding that as the second smallest boat in the race, Amante was finding it hard going.
“There was a bit of weather and a storm close to shore and one offshore, but we slipped between them. The sea’s building now and we’re battling along, hopeful of a podium finish on handicap.”
The fleet can be tracked here http://yb.tl/PS2018
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 6 to Tuesday 9 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.
For more information visit http://www.pittwatertoparadise.com.au/