Leading yachts heading for Bass Strait

  • Racing
  • NEWS
  • By Jennifer Crooks
  • 27 Dec 2003 11:00:00


The leading yachts in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race are expected to enter Bass Strait early this afternoon, but which boat will get their first is wide open.

The leading yachts in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race are expected to enter Bass Strait early this afternoon, but which boat will get their first is wide open.

Three boats, the super maxis Skandia and Zana, and the smaller but exceptionally fast Grundig AAPT, were within three-and-a-half nautical miles of each other at 10am as they beat to windward between Eden and Green Cape on the NSW South Coast.

Based on Yacht Tracker real-time polling from the fleet Grant Wharington’s 98-footer Skandia  was two nautical miles ahead of rival New Zealand super maxi Zana, skippered by Stewart Thwaites

The Race Committee estimated Grundig II’s position as 3.5 miles astern of the leader but closer inshore.

Grundig AAPT’s position has been unclear, except at the fixed radio ‘skeds’ because a technical problem has prevented automatic position reports from the 66-footer.

At this morning’s 3am sked,  Grundig AAPT was still holding the unexpected lead skipper that skipper Sean Langman had established late yesterday by sailing down the rhumbline (direct) course while the super maxis Skandia and Zana took what turned out to be losing leg out to sea.

Zana’s sailing master Peter Sutton has told the Rolex Media Centre that they were sailing in a freshening 25 knot southerly off Eden.  “Unfortunately, we can see Skandia just ahead of us, but as the wind freshens, as we expect it will, hopefully we can then make a move on them,” Sutton said.

All 56 yachts reported their positions at the 3am “sked” with no retirements since the 628 nautical mile race started at 1pm yesterday.  All the yachts are now sailing close to the coast, with the fleet spread back to Katinka, some 113 miles astern of the leaders.

The fleet continues to sail in relatively comfortable 10-15 knot south-west to south-easterly winds and moderate seas down the NSW South Coast but will encounter rough seas and stronger winds once they enter Bass Strait.

The latest forecast is for south-westerly winds of 15-20 knots to increase to 25 knots this afternoon, with seas rising from 1.5 to 2.5 metres.

Progressive handicap placings based on positions reported at 3am showed a new boat heading the leader board in the IMS division, with the well-sailed Beneteau 40.7, First National Real Estate, skippered by Michael Spies, leading Geoff Ross’ new 52-footer, Yendys, and Stephen Ainsworth’s Swan 48, Loki.

However, by 10.30am positions had changed, with AFR Midnight Rambler (Ed Psaltis and Bob Thomas) leading the IMS division from First National Real Estate and Pippin (David Taylor), with Yendys fourth and the little 31-footer Toecutter from Melbourne, skippered by designer and builder Robert Hick, fifth in standings.

In the IRC division, AFR Midnight Rambler was also first from Toecutter, Pippin and First National Real Estate.



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