|Wild Oats XI. Photo sbs.com.au|
But the race is far from over as Perpetual LOYAL, Black Jack, Hong Kong-owned Scallywag and Giacomo ran within striking distance of the local hero and holder of the record of one day 18hrs 23mins 12secs for the grueling 628-nautical-mile (1,163 kilometre) event set in 2012.
Skipper Mark Richards had his supermaxi Wild Oats just 64 nautical miles south-east of
The leading nine yachts were pushing around 15 knots in an easterly breeze, keeping well away from the coast.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia said the conditions were perfect for the Volvo 70’s such as Black Jack, just half a mile behind the 100-foot maxi Perpetual LOYAL, which in turn is seven miles behind the line honours leader.
Wild Oats XI was almost into Bass Strait, where strong easterlies await throughout the afternoon to whip the fleet along to
Wild Oats and her rivals need to finish by 07:23 Wednesday morning local time (2123 GMT Monday) to beat the 2012 time.
Outside of line honours — the fastest yacht over the course — 77-year-old Robbo Robertson’s Beneteau 40, Bravo, leads in the overall handicap positions followed by the Chinese 52-footer named UBOX and crewed by a mix of Chinese and experienced French sailors, Rupert Henry’s Chinese Whisper and Travis Read’s China Easyway, which also has some Chinese crew aboard.
Perpetual LOYAL skipper Anthony Bell had predicted his heavy but powerful vessel would struggle in the light winds against leaner boats in
David Witt, at the helm of
"If I had to write a forecast for us, it would be this one," he said Monday. "Light air just forward of the beam really suits us.
"Our routing puts us at the Iron Pot (mouth of
However the fourth supermaxi in the race — the untested CQS of Finn Ludde Ingvall, who took line honours in 2000 and 2004 — struggled to get the radical design going and was back in eighth place.
The hardest part of this year’s race could prove to be the finale along the
Line honours for the fastest vessel and the overall handicap winner could both be decided on a becalmed Derwent. Last year’s overall handicap winner,
The clement forecast stood in stark contrast to 2015 when savage southerlies forced dozens of boats to pull out, including Wild Oats.
Storms are a regular hazard in one of the world’s most challenging races, with six men dying, five boats sinking and 55 sailors rescued on a fatal night in 1998 when a deep depression exploded over the
Within the first hours of the 2016 event, the organisers reported that two vessels had been forced to retire with Freyja, a 71-year-old timber cruiser blowing out her headsail just beyond the Heads and Dare Devil breaking a rudder leaving 86 yachts at sea. — AFP