Pittwater Online News

April 9, 2022

Black Jack, the super maxi owned by Peter Harburg, broke the race record and took top honors early this morning in the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (RPAYC) Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbor Yacht Race, finishing the race at 06:31:31.

Black Jack, skippered by Mark Bradford representing the Yacht Club de Monaco, set a new record of 17 hours 10 minutes 31 seconds, cutting just over 1 hour 18 minutes off Wild Oats IX’s record of 18 hours 29 minutes 14 seconds established in 2003.

As Black Jack approached the finish, the heavens opened to welcome him to Coffs Harbour.

“It was a pretty straightforward race, although we had a tricky transition west towards the end with a bit of tacking needed,” Bradford said this morning.

“We are super excited to have broken the race record,” he said. The yacht and crew are now gearing up for the Brisbane Easter Race at Gladstone Yacht Race where Harburg and crew will attempt to break their own 2018 record.

As expected, Peter Harburg’s super maxi Black Jack got off to the best start in the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (RPAYC) Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbor Yacht Race on Friday afternoon April 8th.

Due to the 1pm start off Barrenjoey Headland, signaling the start of the hunt for line honors and overall, the fleet was recalled when too many yachts passed the line early.

General reminder aside, it was a good start the second time around, with Rolex Sydney Hobart 2021 line winner Black Jack leading the way. Behind the 100-footer representing the Yacht Club de Monaco was David Griffith’s JV62, Whisper and Sydney Hobart 2021 winner Ichi Ban (Matt Allen).

The two-handed entry, Speedwell, was about 15 minutes behind the start. Campbell Geeves and Olly Gill have work to do to catch up with their contemporaries.

A disorderly and bumpy sea in an east/northeast wind of 15 to 18 knots will make some people regret not having had lunch.

Black Jack, skippered by Mark Bradford, is packed with talent including America’s Cup sailors Adam Beashel and New Zealand’s Dean Phipps. Harburg’s yacht was left to fend for itself, as Christian Beck withdrew LawConnect from the race.

Before the race, David Griffith said of Whisper: “We are ready”, referring to the start of the 36th edition of the 226 nautical mile race.

“We are here to try to win. I have the right people to help me do it; Iain Murray, Michael Coxon and Tom Braidwood are on my main team,” he said.

Whisper is in great shape, having recently broken the Montague Island race record. She also finished fifth overall and fifth on the line at Sydney Hobart 2021.

The bane of his and others’ lives are the TP52s, especially Ichi Ban (Matt Allen). In December Ichi Ban became just the third yacht to win the Sydney Hobart three times and in February she won the Adelaide to Port Lincoln Yacht Race. Pittwater to Coffs is one of the few races that Allen and his TP52 have yet to win.

Allen’s crew includes Mat Belcher, the most decorated Olympic 470 sailor in history, world-class sailor Will Oxley and RPAYC’s Alice Tarnawski, a product of RPAYC’s youth development program.

Fifteen minutes before the start, Carl Crafoord, owner/navigator of Sail Exchange reports: “The rain has stopped, the sun is out and we’re in a 15-17 knot East/North-East. It’s on the nose to get out of here and then it’s supposed to be a 15-20 knot east slope.

“It should be a good race for us. Unfortunately there will be light towards the end and that will favor the bigger boats, while it will be mushy and slow for us,” he said from the nav station of his Cookson 12.

The highly esteemed navigator ran into unforeseen difficulties on arriving at his yacht this morning: “We were doing some last-minute work that we weren’t aware of until we got on board. We had to change the engine alternator, fix the Wi-Fi and fix our computer screen. It was a little rushed,” the Middle Harbor Yacht Club member explained.

John Turnbull, owner of RPAYC entry Luna Blue was eager and ready to go. “They are forecasting a fairly good easterly wind for the first 24 hours. It can shift a little to the north, so it’s straight on the rhumbline at good speed for us. The forecast is fine with us,” he said from his Beneteau First 45.

Luna Blue throws a wave. Photo: Andrea Francolini

At the smallest of the fleet are Highway Patrol, a Dubois 30 (9.14m) owned by Michael Blaxall, Shane Connolly’s 9.9m J/99 Rum Rebellion and Martin’s 10m Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300 Cross, Transcendence Crento.

Notable doubles entries include Speedwell (Campbell Geeves/Olly Gill), Rum Rebellion (Shane Connelly/Graeme Dunlop), Local Hero (Mark Ayto), Transcendence Crento (Martin and John Cross), Runaway (Tim Alexander/Mark Goode) and Intiy (Marc Depret/ Rouzbeh Katrahmani). Intiy is a radical downwind flyer, the first of Beneteau’s Figaro 3 one-designs to be launched in Australia.

Depret, from the host club, said before the start: “The more south in the breeze, the better it is for us. As soon as we get a chance to surface Code Zero, we will. This will be an opportunity to put some distance on the rest.

“At the moment though, the forecast is not ideal for us, but it’s okay. The wind will be in the low range at the start. I think there will be squalls and rain clouds, but I don’t think we will be parked, we will be moving. The question is, in which direction? That’s the general feeling at the moment,” he said.

On Saturday, April 9, bBehind Black Jack, David Griffith’s JV62 Whisper had around 25 nautical miles to the finish, with Ichi Ban chasing just 8nm behind.

The focus is now on winning the overall IRC standings in the 36th edition of the race. Black Jack topped the overall standings at 10am, with Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban and David Griffith’s JV62 Whisper second and third respectively.

Just after 8:00 a.m. last night, the second boat to cross the line was David Griffith’s J/V62 Whisper with an elapsed time of 01:03:23:18.

Gordon Beath and his crew complete the podium by finishing 3rd overall aboard his Chamberlin 14 Roamance, an onboard cruising catamaran.

In a very tactically strong race, Gordon battled Matthew Short’s Fifty Two Hundred and Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban TP52s for the final podium spot.

Gordon signaled halfway through the race: “We lost a rudder just off Port Macquarie, don’t panic though because we have another one! Multihull dispatch”.

While Gordon was alone in multihulls this year, he had 29 monohulls on the course. RPAYC has interest and promises that other big multihulls will join next year and give Gordon a challenge.

From seventh place overall this morning Carl Crafoord, owner/sailor of Sail Exchange said: “We had a good night as we edged Highly Sprung and XS Moment BNMH by a mile. That was until the breeze dropped right and now they’re a mile ahead of us!

At the top of this battle in the standings, we find Highly Sprung (Mark Spring) one place ahead of Sail Exchange and XS Moment BNMH (Ray Hudson) two places behind.

“We’re getting 16 to 17 knots east/northeast. It’s not pleasant here, it’s quite bumpy. On six occasions we had to reef the mainsail because there was too much wind. But we were a bit lucky, no rain and the sun came out,” Crafoord said from his Cookson 12.

To date, there have been seven dropouts from the race. David Suttie’s Pekljus pulled out with electrical issues late yesterday and returned to RPAYC.

Last night John Turnbull’s Luna Blue retired to Newcastle Harbor with rigging problems and crew illness. This morning Ian Smith’s Jupiter and John Mudge’s Dances With Waves retired to Port Stephens. Law Connect, Runaway, Highway Patrol and Speedwell have also retired. The track retired due to an ill crew member and is now in port at Nelson Bay. Speedwell retired due to a lack of power issue and is returning to the coast.

A fleet of 30 started on 2022 Pittwater Marine Club at Coffs Harbor Yacht Race. With 14 now on the line and seven retired, the remaining yachts are due to finish on Sunday.

The full Pittwater Marine Club presentation to Coffs Harbor Yacht Race will take place on Sunday 10th April at the Coffs Harbor Yacht Club.

Mark Bradford (left) and Adam Beashel hold the honors trophy aloft. Photo: RPAYC

Follow the Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbor Yacht Race on the tracker at: http://yb.tl/pittwater2022

Link to leaderboard: https://yb.tl/Leaderboard/pittwater2022

Video of the best moments of the start on: https://youtu.be/7NreiurSPyE

All information, including registration, on the official website: www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au

by Di Pearson

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