MAXI-BOAT MATCH RACE Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
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Wild Oats XI’s position as the fastest boat in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was being severely tested last night when at the 20:00 sched (local time, 09:00 UTC), Anthony Bell’s maxi Investec Loyal overhauled the five time line honours winner.
Overnight the wind the leaders have seen has clocked through 360 degrees.
Crossing the Bass Strait yesterday Investec Loyal’s track south was some 20-30 miles east of Wild Oats XI’s. But early evening, when the wind backed from the southwest into the southeast, both boats tacked southwest, Loyal getting the better of the shift, aggressively bearing away towards her opponent. Making 14 knots compared to Wild Oats XI’s 9 knots, within an hour Investec Loyal had pulled ahead by 6 miles.
Overnight the lead duo in the Rolex Sydney Hobart have continued to round the northwest quadrant of an area of high pressure that, since yesterday, has been shifting east out into the Tasman Sea. With the wind continuing to back into the northeast so the duo at around 01:00 local time this morning on this occasion gybed southwest, allowing them to close on the east coast of Tasmania.
“We've got a yacht race on our hands out here!” came back the succinct report from the Wild Oats XI nav team in the early hours. “We are high speed running - more wind shifts ahead.”
However at around 07:30 local time this morning, Wild Oats XI nosed her way back into the lead.
With another light patch off the southeast coast of Tasmania, so the boats remain still quite offshore, now with the wind back in the southwest, where it was yesterday afternoon. With 72 miles to go to the finish off Hobart for Wild Oats XI at the latest sched, leading Investec Loyal by just 1.5 miles, ETAs into Hobart remain vague. The forecast is now showing the wind dying in Storm Bay and up the Derwent River leading up to Hobart – conditions which have destroyed many a winning yacht’s chances in previous years.
Under IRC handicap, the battle for the Tattersall’s Cup continues to rage, with the best hopes now back to the maxis. In particular Peter Millard’s maxi Lahana (the former Zana/Konica Minolta), holding third place on the water 62 miles astern of Wild Oats XI, is looking very strong. For at present across the race course conditions are generally light, with the exception of where Lahana, Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki and Alex Thomson’s IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss, are located off the east coast of Tasmania, where in 15-20 knot northerlies, Hugo Boss is recording the highest speed in the fleet of 17 knots.
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