East coast offshore championship
The circuit will leverage off the RPAYC’s 29th Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Series, which includes a short race on Broken Bay, the passage race to Coffs Harbour starting on 2 January next year, then short races hosted by Coffs Harbour Yacht Club over two days.
The Coffs to Paradise Race, a 150 nautical mile coastal sprint, will start on 7 January and be followed on 10 January by the Sail Paradise Series - five days of exciting short races staged just off the surf-line of the Gold Coast’s magnificent beaches. Competitors will be able to contest any sector of the circuit – from all races to just one. There will be an overall championship trophy plus trophies for each event.
The concept has been based on a plan to provide the highest level of competitive and satisfying summer sailing for crews of a wide range of yachts - from Grand Prix to cruising - and at the same time present the sailors, their families and friends with the chance to enjoy the many holiday pleasures that are to be found on the Gold Coast.
When announcing the new events today Mayor Clarke said he saw this as the first phase of a long term plan to make the Gold Coast a centre for offshore yacht racing and sailing dinghy regattas. He said few centres in Australia had what the Gold Coast offered keelboat racing, and things would only get better.
While the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour and Coffs to Paradise races will cater for ocean racing yachts, the Sail Paradise series will be open to a far wider range of sailboats, including the smaller Sportsboats and Etchells classes. It is expected that the Sail Paradise fleet will be boosted by a significant number of local yachts from both the Gold Coast and Brisbane, many of which will also be contesting the very popular Surf to City race from the Gold Coast to Brisbane on January 16.
Mayor Clarke’s comments at today’s announcement were endorsed by the CEO of Gold Coast Tourism, Martin Winter: “Gold Coast Tourism has great faith in the potential of yachting on the Gold Coast. We are very positive about these events because as well as offering magnificent sailing conditions we have the infrastructure and support services needed to ensure their success. We have committed our support to these events and are confident that the Southport Yacht Club will conduct a first-class series of races.”
Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club commodore, Russell Murphy, added: “The RPAYC is delighted to have become involved with Southport Yacht Club to foster the inaugural Coffs to Paradise and Sail Paradise events. With these contests taking place on completion of the 29th Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Series we’re confident that the second and third legs of this warm water racing calendar will enjoy strong support. Most yachties can't resist a new challenge so I’m sure there will be no shortage of competitors wanting to be the first winners of the race from Coffs to the Gold Coast and then the Sail Paradise Series.”
The vice-commodore of Coffs Harbour Yacht Club, Maree Walden, was similarly enthusiastic: “Being able to welcome the yachts coming from Pittwater then to be the starting point for the new Coffs to Paradise Race is welcome news for Coffs Harbour,” she said. “This coastal series linking Pittwater, Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast brings an exciting new dimension to offshore racing.”
Commodore of Southport Yacht Club, Neale Hollier, said the establishment of the Coffs to Paradise Race and the Sail Paradise Series was further evidence of the renewed enthusiasm for keelboat racing on the Gold Coast in recent times, especially following the formation of the Keelboat Group within the club: “This club has had a close affiliation with sailing since it was formed more than 60 years ago, from America’s Cup training through to offshore events and dinghy racing. Now it is with great pleasure that we are able to join with Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and present such a wonderful opportunity for sailors and their families to enjoy the best of warm weather sailing, exceptional hospitality and a relaxed holiday environment on the Gold Coast. The keen support we have already seen at Southport Yacht Club and in the Gold Coast community for this exciting development on the Australian sailing scene left us in no doubt it will be a success.”
The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and Southport Yacht Club will be releasing more details of all aspects of the racing and associated events within a few weeks. A new website is also being created.