Pantaenius Newport to Coffs Coast Yacht Race - Family fun returns to the calendar!

September 07, 2017

Pantaenius has always been a very active, hands on and present kind of a sponsor. Just look to Sail Port Stephens, Airlie Beach Race Week or the NSW Game Fishing Association’s annual Interclub Tournament for examples. Think of the drinks nights, gourmet sausage sizzles, those tremendous cooler bags as prizes, and so many other things.

However, it is on December 27, 2017, that this will go to an entirely new level. For the very first time, Pantaenius Sail and Motor Yacht Insurance will be the naming rights sponsor of a major yacht race in Australia. The return of the annual Christmas time race to Coffs Harbour is awaited by many looking for a shorter offshore race, which means you can be out and back before having to return to work.

When the Royal Motor Yacht Club’s Development Manager, Rob Brown OAM, indicated that the club was keen to see the race to Coffs Harbour return to its traditional Christmas timeslot, Pantaenius also knew it would be a winner, and quickly came on board. 

The race was designed to be family friendly, offer fun at an affordable level. Most importantly, it was purposely designed so as to be easy to get involved with, no matter whether you have an outright racer, or a production cruiser for the whole family to join you on a delightful trip up the coast.

As a Cat3+ event, it means you do not have to install an expensive HF radio if you do not already have one. Links for the hire of life rafts from, along with Sat Phones, PLBs and EPIRBS are all on the site now at This was a godsend for those looking to partake, maybe even for the first time, but it would be the enter now, pay later (on October 31 to be precise) option that meant it became achievable for all.

Now first to seize the opportunity was Craig Neil with his Judel/Vrolijk 42, Elena Nova. Neil commented, “The crew of Elena Nova are delighted to become the first Expression of Interest for the event. I brought the boat to Australia in February of 2014, and she has been up and down the East Coast of Australia since. Elena Nova has been campaigned in a lot of places in between the Whitsundays to last year’s Hobart.”

Now as it turns out, one of the crew that know boats from Pantaenius was on board for that race. Maike Muth actually completed her first Hobart with Elena Nova, which has certainly got her inspired to do much more in the world of ocean racing.

Neil then said of this first Pantaenius Newport to Coffs Coast Yacht Race, "It is great to have the race return to its traditional time between Christmas and New Years Eve. It's also the perfect race for our size/style of yacht, and we are all looking forward to it."

So the first monohull to fully complete the entry was Doug Coulter’s Rogers 46, Shakti. Doug is keen to reproduce recent victories with a win in this year’s Pantaenius Newport to Coffs Coast Yacht Race.

He has done the old Coffs race many times before, winning it under PHS in 1999 aboard Frantic. He was very keen to support the race back to Coffs, and in its original timeslot. “I felt I was duty bound to be the first entry, as I filled in the survey not that long ago about going back to the shorter race with the 27th as the start date. So in the end it was an easy choice to put my money where my mouth was! The left turn works for us and our bodies, given the shorter distance is easier on the crew.”

Yet the Pantaenius Newport to Coffs Coast Yacht Race is not only just for monohulls, with a separate multihull division also created. The first to seize that opportunity, and also very much beating the drum for others to join him, is Darren Drew. His Lock Crowther penned foam, Kevlar and epoxy cat is still one of the fastest offshore racing cats today, despite being built back in 1987. She held and still holds many a record here and in Asia.

A full birthday was awarded to her not that long ago, and she continues to excite, taking out this year’s Brisbane to Gladstone race. Drew commented, “I did the Pittwater to Coffs race on her in 2015, and so can honestly tell you we are looking to nail this one in 2017. Our real hope is to have a quality amount of other Multihulls to race against, so please come and join us!” 

The original vision for this race when it started back in 1981, came from Max Tunbridge, who was competing in another race that went up past Coffs Harbour, around South Solitary Island and back to Sydney. “I looked on so longingly at one of the best harbours on the coast, Coffs, as we sailed on another 11nm to the island, and then even more so as we sailed back past Coffs again on the way back”, said Tunbridge.

“Back then, Coffs Harbour did not have the breakwater and marina, so it’s amenity is even greater now! We all tied up at the main wharf, and that included the bumper years when we had 120+ entries. On a couple of occasions this was actually bigger than the Hobart fleet you watched race off the day before you got going yourself. The race really was all about the raft up and enjoying yourself, especially the New Year’s Eve festivities.” By way of note, Tunbridge has got so much behind the new race that he has joined the Royal Motor to show his support.

So if you are looking for a more inclusive, more than likely far warmer, and definitely really good, fun event for everyone, the new Cat3+ Pantaenius Newport to Coffs Coast Yacht Race that commences on December 27 under auspices of the Royal Motor Yacht Club of Broken Bay, and in conjunction with the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club, could well be for you. It will commence right off the breakwater of the club at 1300 hours if it is suitable weather, so that everyone can have the chance to see the amassed fleet take off.

Given that 26 boats have expressed interest already, and it is likely that the fleet will amass 50 boats then the other point to remember is that if you have accommodation requirements in Coffs Harbour, then you may need to get moving to secure the appropriate accommodation over the busy Christmas and New Year period. Many will use the extra time before payment to sort out their paperwork and compliance.

One thing is for sure, and that is that there will be a vast array of styles like Dehler 41s to Sydney 38s and Cookson 12s, along with many more. So if it all sounds like exactly what you need then join them now, and pay later. All interested parties in either of the mono or multihull categories should see for the NOR and online entry. Remember, if you enter now you won’t have to finalise payment until October 31, 2017.


 © John Curnow, August 2017