SAILING - Airlie Beach Race Week 2017
SAILING - Airlie Beach Race Week 2017 11/8/2016 Airlie Beach, Queensland ph. Andrea Francolini SWISH

Steve Proud is rightly proud to be the owner and skipper of SWISH, a Kernan 44. Off the back of his great win in this years Hamilton Island IRC Passage Division 1, Steve is looking forward to doing it all again in the Coffs race on the 27th December 2017.

With the support of yacht insurance company Pantaenius as the major sponsor, the Coffs race in its new format will be named the Pantaenius Newport to Coffs Coast Yacht Race.

The Royal Motor Yacht Club (RMYC) in partnership with Coffs Harbour Yacht Club will host the race that will start in Pittwater and finish at Coffs Harbour.

The Coffs Harbour Yacht Club is very excited that the tradition of the race will continue and looks forward to welcoming the fleet when they arrive around the 28th and 29th of December. There are lots of activities planned to coincide with the arrival of the fleet and to help the crews and their land based support crews celebrate the race and stay on to holiday and bring in the New Year.

This year will mark the 37th running of the Coffs Harbour race. Steve who sails out of Middle Harbour Yacht Club (MHYC) has competed in the Coffs race many times. He launched his latest boat in 2012 and competed in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Coffs race. He says SWISH is a highly technical boat and much more difficult to sail than its predecessor, a Sydney 38.   The crew needs to be experienced as there is always a lot going on.

“It is fairly brutal to handle with the crew putting as much sail on the rig as it can handle. So the crew have to be on their game at all times and respond quickly to the conditions’.

Swish usually carries a crew of nine or ten. The crew list for the race is yet to be finalised but Steve knows he has along with him his regulars in Murray Gordon and Joe Turner from The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, and John Higgs from MHYC. Also Brad Allen from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. Alice Tarnawski will join them this year. She is a great sailor and match racer from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club who will act as offside trimmer.

Steve says the 230 nautical mile Pantaenius Newport to Coffs Coast Race is just long enough to fit neatly between the Christmas and New Year holiday period. A time when lots of crew have time off work and looking to get out and enjoy an ocean race.

Depending on the speed of the boat and the wind direction the race can take from one to three days. At this time of the year the North Easters are more prevalent, the days are longer and the night are shorter. And, if The East Australian Current is running hot then the race becomes a tacking battle with boats trying to find the best-fit course zig zagging their way in and out between the headlands and then back again into the beaches to minimise the current and pick the best wind shifts. Steve loves sailing at night and with a relatively clear course he enjoys concentrating on getting the most out of the boat while ticking of the lights of the headlands as the boat tracks steadily north.

When it is ‘on the nose’ then the shorter destination to Coffs Harbour appeals to most crews as it is only a couple of hundred miles to beat to the finish line. And for those wanting to get back home in time for more racing then it is an easy turn-around for the bigger boats.

If it is a southerly then it is a fast race with all sails up in a sweep for the line. In 2015 a southerly wind swept them up the coast with only one gybe required just off Coffs Harbour. And if the weather turns nasty then chances are it is all behind you and you are running with it.

His new SWISH maybe more technical on the sailing and rigging side of things but not in the galley. With all the action on board there is little time left for elaborate food prep so the crew will grab quick ready-made snack then it is down to freeze dried meals after that. This is another reason why his crew considers Coffs Harbour a great racing destination. It is far enough away to get a great sail but just in time to fill up on some great local seafood and enjoy the hospitality of the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club. In the past boats have had the B2 welcome on arrival at the marina – that’s beers to quench the thirst and a hand of Coffs famous produce- bananas.

This year the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce is going all out to welcome the return of the fleet. There will be many activities to greet the sailors as well as many other activities associated with the festival of sail along the Coffs Coast during the Xmas New Year. The Coffs Coast is well known as a great holiday destination. Many family and friends book holiday accommodation around the arrival of the fleet and then stay on for the spectacular New Years fireworks.

Steve agrees that the Coffs Coast is a great destination for sailors and their families and friends. He says that Coffs Harbour is surrounded by the natural beauty of the coastline and hinterland and recommends a visit to the great surf beaches on the northern side of the harbour before the return trip home.

So join Steve, Swish and his crew and register now. Go online at or call Race Director Rob Brown 02 9998 5511 for more information. If you need crew for this race or looking to join a yacht, check out the crew search page on MySail:


Article provided by Race organiser Royal Motor Yacht Club, photo credit Andrea Francolini.