Checkmate Launches Aussie Assault at Pittwater to Paradise Regatta

Owner, Ray Roberts and crew of the iconic US-built Peterson 50, Checkmate are looking forward to launching the vessel’s Australian racing career in the 2018 Club Marine Pittwater to Paradise Regatta, which starts Tuesday 2 January. 

Inclement conditions during delivery to Sydney from the Gold Coast resulted in damage that put the yacht, renamed Checkmate of Hollywood, out of this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

As Michael Spies, seasoned sailor and long-time friend of owner Ray Roberts, explained: “We were pretty devastated not to make the Sydney Hobart, but with the adverse weather during delivery, we just weren’t prepared in time.”

Instead, they prepped and sailed Ray’s FARR 55, Hollywood Boulevard, which finished 10th, and are now flying back from Hobart in time for New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbour, then a quick scoot to Pittwater for the Race start on Tuesday.

Checkmate is a sensational dual-purpose boat,” continued ‘Spiesy’. “She’s a proper yacht – nothing like the disposable boats we’ve been sailing for 30 or so years. We’ll watch the NYE fireworks on Sydney Harbour then get ready for the P2P.”

With her eye-catching gleaming timber hull, 50-foot Checkmate of Hollywood, with a sail number well-known to TV addicts of a certain age: 90210 (the Hollywood post code), is a 40-year-old IOR Doug Peterson design, built of Brazilian mahogany in San Diego by the illustrious Carl Eichenlaub, and updated in 2000 to make her a fast, competitive racing yacht.

In October 2017, Ray “Hollywood” Roberts bought the boat from the Orange County School of Sailing and Seamanship where she had given great service following her donation by the previous owner.

Roberts immediately sailed her to a win in her Class in the 53rd San Diego to Ensenada International Yacht Race.

Checkmatesailed from the US West Coast across the Pacific to Australia and cleared Customs at Southport Yacht Club at the end of November, before heading to The Boat Works on the Gold Coast for a thorough overhaul.

Forecast for the Pittwater to Paradise Yacht Race - Sunday 31 December

SITUATION    Roger Bradham Sunday forecastRoger Bradham Sunday forecast

Trough of low pressure off the coast on TUE 02 morning with weak S flow; the trough weakens later in the day and the S flow fades with a soft shift from SE to E on parts of the south and central coast. Rather light winds the first night.

A front to push north along the NSW on WED 03, passing Sydney early morning and mid north coast by midday. Assisted by high pressure ridging up along the coast later WED afternoon and night; S-SE wind will build across the entire race track during the afternoon.

S-SE winds look to be strongest with 20-25 kts on THU 04 morning on the NSW mid north coast and far north coast areas. 

High pressure will build off the NSW central coast on FRI 05 and as the ridge rotates north along the coast, so the stronger SE wind will be pushed further north snd wind will ease on the NSW coast and SE QLD coast with SE-E/5-10.

Preliminary Forecast of the Pittwater to Paradise race - Saturday 30 December


Forecast models have continued to vary run to run and model to model over the last 24 hrs. the overall pattern looks set – nothing very strong and mostly from the behind with S-SE most of the way and possibly SE-ESE for a time. 

This morning, there is a front to cross TAS and VIC – that will push up the coast as a S change and pass through Sydney later this afternoon with a few showers and possibly a thunderstorm. The band of rain overnight was with a pre-frontal trough.

A small cell of high pressure will follow tomorrow and S-SE winds will quickly shift back to the NE.

During Monday, a trough will develop off the NSW coast and wind will turn back S-SE, but should not be very strong at all.

A front will then move up the NSW coast later Tuesday followed by a high pressure ridge from high pressure over the Bight.

The S-SE winds with this front and following ridge will move all the way up the NSW coast – passing Sydney late TUE 02 night.  

The front looses its identity further north, but the strengthening S-SE winds look to be across all the NSW northern coast by WED 03 afternoon. 

The next cell of high pressure will probably develop off the NSW coast during THU 04 and the S-SE winds will ease from the south and turn SE-E-NE. 

The new ridge probably won’t reach SE QLD until later FRI 05, when the S-SE wind will ease and turn SE-E.

Rising Tide of Talent - Club Marine Pittwater to Paradise nurtures sailing young guns


The 2018 Club Marine Pittwater to Paradise Regatta, commencing Tuesday 2 January, has its share of under-30s sailing talent in its ranks this year. Some are newcomers to sailing and others are seasoned sailors who have hundreds of nautical miles under their collective belts. All of them are primed and ready for the 2018 P2P, motivated by equal parts camaraderie and competitive spirit.

 Seven yachts in this year’s Race have sailors in their 20s onboard, among them, Dreki Sunnan, formerly Victoire, the Beneteau First 45 bought in mid-2017 by Ken Holmes. With its Norse name meaning ‘Dragon of the South’, Dreki Sunnan will welcome onboard three under-30s, lured to the challenge by Ken’s initiative to support and train the next generation of sailors.
Named in honour of Ken’s father’s conviction that the family came from Viking stock, Dreki Sunnan has an enviable pedigree and crew that is half extremely experienced and the other half new to sailing.
“The majority of our foredeck crew are undertaking their first season of offshore sailing,” said Ken. “It’s part of the training program we have put together to get young people interested in sailing, and in particular, bluewater racing, and then train them up to a standard where they’re confident to take on the greatest challenge of all, the Sydney Hobart.
“We’re hoping to be reasonably competitive,” continues Ken. “The boat can certainly do it, if we can push it and get decent wind behind us. The yacht does well in heavy conditions – 25 knots and above. 

"We are looking forward to mentoring the younger chaps, both for their enjoyment of the sport and passing on the baton for the future of the sport.”
This year, Ken, an environmental scientist, will complete the race, “enjoy a few beers at SYC” then fly back to Sydney without taking part in Southport Yacht Club's Bartercard Sail Paradise Series. 

“Regrettably, I have business commitments and have to go back to reality! The crew will take the boat back and I will fly back.” A proud Blues supporter, Ken and crew will be flying the flag for NSW in this year’s inaugural State of Origin Trophy, hoping to contribute points to claiming it for NSW. 

“We’ll say it’s a bit of fun, but there will be a serious side to it now there’s a trophy up for grabs.”
One of the three young guns onboard Dreki Sunnan is John Lewin, a 26 year-old pilot based in Brisbane, in his first year of sailing and working hard to learn the ropes ahead of the P2P – his first offshore event.
“My mum and dad have been involved in sailing and yacht deliveries for many years, and they will be crewing on Dreki Sunnan this year as well,” he explained, adding that it would have been a “family affair” including his brother, Greg as well, but he had prior commitments and could not make it.
John’s dad, David, and Ken Holmes have been friends since their Uni days, hence the invitation for the 2018 P2P.
“It’s a relatively new crew, new boat, but there are plenty of experienced sailors onboard, so I am looking forward to learning on the job,” said John. “I’ve competed in a lot of local races around Pittwater and short races in Port Hacking, but I am looking forward to getting some more bluewater experience ahead of entering the Sydney Hobart in 2018.”

John, who will be joined by his two mates, James Rowlinson and Floyd Higgins, also 26, said the idea to compete in a Sydney Hobart came about as all good ideas do, “over a few beers”.

“We decided to get some experience under our belts and gear up for the big race in 2018. I’m on the mast and bow, and learning how to fly the spinnaker. I hope to be available for more time onboard in 2018 to really get to grips with the boat and what’s needed for such a challenging race.”
Meantime, ahead of the P2P, John for whom the race is a one-way trip after Christmas in Sydney with the family, said he is “very happy and confident” with Dreki Sunnan. “It’s a fast boat and there’s lots of support and encouragement from the older guys. If it all comes together, we could be in with a chance.”
Sailing on Farr 45 Pretty Woman, Liam Bennett is a 25 year-old from Mona Vale with more than a decade of sailing experience to his credit, rising through the Youth Program at RPAYC and cutting his teeth on lasers.
“The owners of Pretty Woman, Richard, Russell and Michael [Commodore of RPAYC], have a big commitment to youth sailing and invite young sailors onboard for big races. I have been crewing each Saturday for a while, so pretty much know the boat inside out by now.”
Assigned the role of “Chef” on official entry documents, Liam attributed that to his Captain’s wry sense of humour. “It must be a joke because I get sick if I spend too much time down below, or maybe they think I sleep too much? Either way, I am a trimmer onboard.”

Liam is hoping Pretty Woman will stay on at Southport for the Bartercard Series, planning to spend the time off from his day job as a surveyor enjoying the sunshine and good sailing on the Gold Coast. “It’s a good getaway during the Christmas break,” he said. “I enjoy sailing with the crew of Pretty Woman. We’re extremely tight knit and the older, more experienced guys really give us a sense of safety and confidence doing the offshore races. There’s no panic, everybody knows their role. It’s a well-oiled machine.”
Oliver Court, 21 years-old from Manly in Sydney, is looking forward to his first P2P on Nine Dragons, which he described as “a real weapon” with more than a strong chance in the Race.

“It has a formidable reputation and awesome camaraderie, so I just had to jump onboard.”

 Oliver, an Engineer studying Architecture, came to join the crew of Nine Dragons at the recommendation of his mate, a Bowman on Bob Cox’s Dk46. “I joined the CYCA a few years ago after hanging around there for a while, but I have been sailing since I was about 14. When my friend told me about Nine Dragons, I met the owner and sailed in the Sydney to Newcastle with them. He said I was a nice young fella and invited me to sail the P2P, and I was tickled pink!”
He has been sailing on the boat for close to a year, taking part in high intensity, windward and leeward races, and said he’s confident Nine Dragons has the stuff to take line honours. “I have a good feeling about it. It’s a good fun boat. Winning and having fun are synonymous.”

Preliminary Forecast of the Pittwater to Paradise race - Friday 29 December

FRI 29 December

SITUATION    BoM forecast model Tuesday 2 January 2018BoM forecast model Tuesday 2 January 2018

Forecast models diverged yesterday in their longer term outlook for the period Jan 2-5. 

The latest models indicate the following:

A pre-frontal trough with rain followed by a front with a S-SE wind change will move across NSW later today and tomorrow, SAT 30.

High pressure will follow and wind will shift SE-NE during SUN 31.

Part of the major trough across inland NSW will shift off the NSW coast on MON 01 and lay off the coast TUE 02 generating a weak S-SE wind flow along the coast. On WED 03, a front will move up the NSW with stronger S-SE winds through THU 04. 

Weak high pressure on FRI 05 will see those SE wind ease and shift SE-NE on the coast but remain SW-SE well offshore mid Tasman. 



TUE 02

WIND  S/14-18 then SE/10-15 easing further to SE-E/5-10 at night.


WEATHER  fairly cloudy with a morning shower or 2.

2017 Champion Hot Contestant for 2018 Pittwater to Paradise Series

Southport Yacht Club’s Auric’s Quest will be a hot contender for back to back wins in the 2018 Bartercard Sail Paradise Regatta, along with a solid chance to be named champion of the Pittwater to Paradise Series, 2018. -	Auric’s Quest offshore training for the upcoming Pittwater to Paradise offshore regatta- Auric’s Quest offshore training for the upcoming Pittwater to Paradise offshore regatta

Due to mechanical issues Auric’s Quest was unable to join the east coast offshore race, however fortunate enough to compete in home regatta Bartercard Sail Paradise in 2017. Being the vessels first major event, Auric’s Quest competed against a premier fleet to be crowned regatta champion.

“I am extremely pleased that this event will be an annual occasion to look forward to. Last year was an opportunity that we unfortunately could not attend, however for 2018 the boat is back on track and the crew are more prepared than ever,” said skipper Fred Bestall.

While the main focus for entrants is the series championship crown, the four-day offshore event is also host to the 2018 Queensland Australian Yachting Championships, Australian Measurement System Queensland Championships and Australia Sports Boat Queensland Championships.

See release attached for further details.

-       Bartercard Sail Paradise, Southport Yacht

-       Club Marine Pittwater to Paradise, Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club:


Additional information can also be obtained from Southport Yacht Club Marketing Manager, Bronwen Hemmings via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or 07 5591 3500

Preliminary Forecast of the Pittwater to Paradise race

THU 28


This spring and summer have been far from ‘average’ - whatever average really means!

Very dry spring and now a weak La Nina with extremely warm air over inland Australia. We had very few S wind changes move up the NSW coast during November – this morning has seen a few S changes - but true frontal related S changes remain below average and the S wind changes have been associated more with the movement of the heat trough – inland and then coming to the coast.

A southerly wind change is expected up along the NSW coast on New Years Day. S-SE winds are expected on TUE 2nd with high pressure back over the Bight and a heat trough over northern NSW and SE QLD. The high pressure is expected to shift east and develop a centre off E coast of TAS during WED 3rd while the trough remains over NE NSW and SE QLD. The situation is slow to change over the following 2 days; the high tracking east over the southern Tasman Sea and the trough system slowly pulling back to inland QLD. Onshore SE-E wind expected to persist along the north coast of NSW and SE coast of QLD across the race period.

Forecast models are in quite good agreement, but vary in some of the detail – expected when this far out from the race.


TUE 02

WIND  S-SSE/16-22 settling SE/15-20 during the day easing to SE/10-15 at night.


WEATHER  fairly cloudy with a morning shower or 2.



Pittwater to Southport


The Pittwater to Paradise Regatta will be starting on Sydney's Pittwater,  1 hour drive north from Sydney's CBD on January 2, 2019 and run through to 9 January, 2019.

The ocean race offers competitors a strategic challenge as they race between the surfline and the current, past unsurpassed scenic coastlines, prior to arriving in one of Queensland's most popular coastal cities. Once on the Gold Coast boats will enjoy a four day series regatta hosted by the Southport Yacht Club.

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The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club
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Southport Yacht Club
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