The PIC Coastal Classic yacht race gets underway this morning, with 165 sailing boats starting off Auckland’s Devonport Wharf, bound for Russell in the bay of islands. With starts from 9:30am, The fleet is expecting east north east winds of 5-10 knots in the morning, which will build to a nice and steady 10-15 knot breeze as boats head up the northland coast in the afternoon. “It should be a glamorous day with sunshine and no rain in the forecast” said Jon Bilger of PredictWind during the briefing last night. “It looks like champagne sailing for the day, although the breeze will die down after dark”. It could be a long night for the slower boats to finish the entire 119 nautical mile course, but the current race record could be contested due to the favourable easterly wind direction. “Big powerful boats like like Team Frank (current record holders of 5hr 13min) don’t require a lot of wind to get up to full speed” Jon continues. “Wave conditions will be less than one meter and we don’t expect there to be a ‘parking lot’ after Cape Brett.” It is looking like a smooth run into Russell, for the boats that get in before dark anyway. Anything can happen on the Great Race North. As is tradition, spectators will watch the action unfold from North Head, before looking online for continued tracking of the fleet via the PredictWind yacht tracker, and the social media feeds online www.coastalclassic.co.nz Legendary yachting commentator Peter Lester will lead the livestreaming online Facebook Live from 9:20am. www.facebook.com/piccoastalclassic.