Thursday, 6 January 2011

'Carats N Kilos' wins PHS, 'Soothsayer' takes out Shorthanded Division in the 30th Coffs Race

Carats - John Santifort, his 30 fotter 'Carats N Kilos' with his crew at the Cofs Harbour Marina after their PHS win in the 2011 Pittwater to Coffs Race. Image copyright Damian Devine.

by Damian Devine

The smallest boat in the fleet, the Hick 30 'Carats N Kilos' skippered by the CYCA's John Santifort has taken out the PHS overall in the 30th Anniversary Pittwater to Coffs Race for 2011 in a corrected time of 30hrs 31mins 33 secs. Proving that even the smallest boat can win a Coffs Race, Santifort even surprised himself with how quickly he got to Coffs. With his room booked for the next day, Santifort didn't have a bed for himself or crew when he arrived, so had to find alternate accommodation for the night. His boat was too small to sleep six.

"We're absolutely ecstatic with the win, particularly being the smallest boat in the fleet," said Santifort who won his overall PHS Division by over two hours from the duo from the RPAYC, John McConaghy's Custom McConaghy 47, 'Second Time Around' and Gary Holder's ID 35 'The Real Thing'. It was a great result and return to ocean racing for McConaghy and a welcome return for Holder.

Santifort added, "We were excited to just be hanging in there with some of the 40 footers." At a critical time in the race, 'Carats N Kilos' had just dropped their spinnaker before the big puff that sent quite a few boats into a scramble and, into retirement. "Was it a good tactical decision or was it sheer good fortune?" offered a cheeky Santifort.

In terms of the boats performance in the race, "We had the jib pole out in 35 knots and we were sitting on 18 knots boat speed and on course, not bad for a 30 footer. I've just to praise our super young guys on the crew, of which there were three in a total crew of six. I've got to give an honourable mention to the young Jamie Ford who pushed the boat to its limit. He had us clocking 18 knots and surfing, I've never seen this boat go so fast."

"I've done this race many times and normally it's beating into the wind, on the nose and into the current, so it's always tough going for us. But when it was a Southerly all the way I knew we had half a chance. The Gods were on our side in this race. We're just on a high at the moment with our victory."

His Rob Hick designed, home built boat made of carbon and balsa also included three Coffs first timers including his 16 year old son Martijn, Andrew Pidgeon and Edward Rigby. They enjoyed the ride and it makes the win even more special.

Jennifer Fitzgibbon collects her first place trophy in the Shorthanded Division from RPAYC Commodore Russell Murphy. Image copyright Damian Devine.

The Divisional results were PHS Division One; 'Second Time Around' followed by 'The Real Thing' with Peter Gaddes 'Outsideedge', a Young 11 and sailing Shorthanded in third. In Division Two it was 'Carats N Kilos', with the RPAYC's Ryan/Rutherford Beneteau 36 'First Light' in second and 'Freya' third. 'Freya' is a Hanse 411 skippered by William Hutchinson from the RSYS.

This year the Coffs Race Committee from the host club, the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club made the decision to include a new Division to allow Shorthanded sailors the opportunity to race the 226nm "warm water" ocean race. Whilst only a handful of boats entered, it was well received by the competitors contesting the Division, one of the few offshore events in Australia for these committed sailors.

Not being able to afford to let up for one minute in the testing conditions during the race, these sailors earned the respect of the rest of the fleet in the Coffs race, as they didn't have the luxury of additional crew. They were easy to spot at the yacht Club following the race as they were dead on their feet literally, having had to work extremely hard. They all slept very well last night.

With the retirement of Craig Ellis' Elliot 57 ' Future Shock' on the first night due to a broken mast head halyard, it was a complete Queensland affair with Jennifer Fitzgibbon, from the Manly YC and Mooloolaba YC winning the inaugural Division along with crew Warren Pidgeon on board her Sayer 10.6 by more than 90 minutes from Peter Gaddes Young 11 'OutsideEdge' with the father/daughter combination of Rick and Penny Morgan's MbD40 'Dream Lover,' in third. Both these yachts represent the Moreton Bay Yacht Club.

An exhausted Fitzgibbon said of her victory, "We are very excited, we had a good time and it's such a good race.It got very rough at times and we had a bit on, but the boat loves these conditions, it loves to get up and surf. At one stage in the race, we had 38 knots across the stern with just the main up and managed to pass seven boats, which was pleasing. At other times we had the masthead kite up and were having a ball. So we're absolutely thrilled with the win."

Fitzgibbon also applauded the Organising Committes decision to include a Shorthanded Division saying, "it's just awesome and exciting that the RPAYC allowed Shorthanded sailors into this offshore race. There's quite a few of us in the country who really enjoy this sort of racing but there really is limited opportunity in Australia to compete and race offshore. I hope this sets a precedent for others to follow." Fitzgibbon went onto praise her crewmate Warren Pidgeon "who was with me all the way, thank God!"

The last boat to cross the finish line in the 30th Pittwater to Coffs race was RPAYC's Jim Bullough's Catalina 42 'Stress Free', also sailing PHS, who arrived in Coffs Harbour at 3:15am. He sought and was granted redress of two hours elapsed time for standing by 'Infinity' when she ran into a bit of trouble off Seal Rocks in the early hours of yesterday morning before retiring into Forster Tuncurry, with all on board safe and well.

The Protest Committee commended 'Stree Free's' professional and prompt attention to assist 'Infinity'. Her elapsed time was adjusted and stands at 36hrs 9mins 53secs. Bullough was happy to be in Coffs Harbour, saying "another lumpy, bumpy ride but we got here in one piece and we're happy to be here."

With many hanging around in Coffs Harbour to revel in the 30th Anniversary celebrations, a reasonable fleet is expected tomorrow and Thursday to start in the four offshore sprint races off Coffs Harbour, including the majestic South Solitary Islands.

The five race series, including the 2011 Pittwater to Coffs Race will conclude on Thursday with a massive prize giving at Coffs Harbour Yacht Club. Racing gets underway at 1100hrs with the forecast in Coffs Harbour by is for 15 knots winds from the South West building into a 20-25 knot South South Westerly in the afternoon.

Pittwater to Offs Harbour Race