69 Yachts Left as Field
Clears for Wild Oats XI to Claim Second Line Honors Victory
Bob Oatley's Wild Oats
XI, the 2005 line honors, handicap and course record setter, continues to
lead the 69 remaining boats competing in the Rolex Sydney Hobart towards the
finish line. At 7.10pm local time today the race favorite was mid-way across
Bass Strait, the famous channel separating Tasmania from mainland Australia,
having extended her lead over Grant Wharington's second placed Skandia to 18
This afternoon round the world
navigator Adrienne Cahalan, on board Wild Oats XI, described the sea state
as "very rough" with the wind up to 25-30 knots. "It is a close race with
Skandia so both boats are fighting very hard," she said.
While the race may have been
close between the 30m supermaxis in the race for line honors, this is
unlikely to remain the case for long. At 13:35 local time today, while she
was just 3 miles astern of Wild Oats XI, Skandia broke her canard, the
single centrally mounted dagger board, used to prevent leeway when going to
"We have no idea what happened -
we may have hit something, we really don't know at this stage. All we know
is that we heard a very loud crack and then the guys saw it floating away,"
commented Skandia skipper Grant Wharington. While they will still be able to
reach Hobart in this condition it will considerably diminish their ability
to go to windward efficiently. "We are currently experimenting with the
level of keel cant to maximize our performance," Wharington continued. "I
guess given the carnage of last night we should be grateful - but it's
really frustrating given how well were going, and the conservative way we
have been sailing."
Wharington will have to fend off
their second place on the water from his old steed, Matt Allen's Volvo Open
70 Ichi Ban, 15 miles astern of her at the latest update.
|Wild Oats XI sailing the Rolex Sydney Hobart
race. Photo by: Carlo Borlenghi/ Rolex.
A tactically complex night lies
ahead for the front runners as a weak cold front is set to pass over the
eastern Bass Strait tonight and into tomorrow morning. This is likely to see
the wind drop, fill in from the northeast giving them a few brief hours of
running before the wind drops again and reverts once again to the south as
they feel the first effects of the high pressure system over the Great
Australian Bight coming their way.
After 78 yachts started the Rolex
Sydney Hobart yesterday, the fleet is now down to 69 yachts following the
latest retirement of Philip King's Salona due to steering problems. The
Cookson 50, Living Doll, David Pescud's Lyons 54, Sailors With Disabilities,
Bruce Taylor's Sydney 38, Chutzpah, and Peter Mooney's Sydney 47,
have also retired with steering or rudder issues while the 40-footer Mr. Kite
has retired with rig problems.
Following the dismastings earlier
this morning of ABN AMRO and Maximus, the Australian rescue authorities were
once again alerted this morning to the plight of Mike Freebairn's 1968
overall Sydney Hobart winner, Ray White Koomooloo.
Sailing in a 22 knot
southwesterly, Freebairn's 41 footer fell off a backless wave and soon after
started flooding. "We did everything we could to save the boat. We started
ripping up the floor boards trying to find where the water was coming in. We
couldn't locate the problem. We started bailing for a while, then I decided
for the safety of the crew that we'd better abandon," said Freebairn.
Ray White Koomooloo's skipper and
crew transferred via life raft to the British services 67ft Challenge yacht,
Adventure at 1100 local time. While the yacht was still floating at the time
they abandoned her, Freebairn was not expecting her to stay afloat for much
longer. From Adventure the stricken crew were transferred to a police launch
at 1300. The police launch was then en route to the 1988 overall Rolex
Sydney Hobart race winner, Illusion, to transfer off skipper Graham Jackson,
who is believed to have broken some ribs.
This evening Maximus is in
Ulladulla, 100 miles south of Sydney. All but one of her crew are now out of
hospital. ABN AMRO One is currently under engine and jury rig and is also
due into Ulladulla this evening to pick up fuel.
Under IRC handicap the tables are
turning regularly with Matt Allen's Volvo Open 70 Ichi Ban currently leading
from Alex Whitworth's Berrimilla, with Wild Oats third. The top three have
pulled out a slight lead over Geoff Ross' fourth placed Yendys on corrected
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