going for 57 yachts still at sea...
In strong wind conditions 30 nautical miles off Tasmania’s east coast this afternoon, rigging damage forced the crew aboard the Tasmanian 11-metre yacht Dump Truck to retire from the race and to run for shelter between Schouten Island and Freycinet Peninsula. Skipper Justin Wells notified race officials at approximately 1430hours AEDT that they had damaged their D2 fitting, where the shroud or side stay attaches to one of the mast’s horizontal spreaders. Potentially it threatens the stability of the mast. They immediately reduced sail and are motoring to Schouten Passage, where they’re expected to arrive at about 2100hours to reassess their situation.
Five yachts have retired so far and, for the 57 yachts still racing, a difficult evening lies ahead. In the lee of northeastern Tasmania there is a substantial wind shadow. From midway down the eastern seaboard to Tasman Island.
A 12 year old Lithuanian Volvo 60 that roams the world from race to race called Ambersail, and KLC Bengal 7, a two year old Humphreys 54 hailing from Japan arrived in Sydney never having taken part in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 628 nautical mile race before. And Ambersail was the first Lithuanian entry ever.
Yet in a fleet of 76, spread across 140 miles of ocean, this morning the only two non-Australasian boats in the race found they were converged at Tasman light with no other yachts in sight, rounding Cape Raoul and launching into Storm Bay within hailing distance of each other. The two raced side by side across Storm Bay, match racing the final leg up the Derwent River. In the end, Ambersail crossed the line 6 minutes ahead of the Japanese, a very satisfying result for her skipper, Simonas Steponavicius. “We have met this boat quite a few times before,” he said.
The winds have been blowing at more than 25 knots off the north-east coast and are expected to reach near gale force further south in Storm Bay and around Tasman Island tonight before easing. The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a strong wind warning for Storm Bay, with gusts of more than 35 knots expected. Sailors have reported winds of more than 45 knots today. Rain squalls have reduced visibility to less than 100 metres at times.
Spindrift is flying off 3 metre waves in a 26 – 36 knot west-southwesterly. These conditions are forecast to prevail through much of 30 December too.
So far 14 boats have finished the race. There have been five retirements; 57 yachts are at sea.
- Retired - steering problem
Oats XI wins the treble...
Richards steered the yacht to the treble in 2005, but it came in easier style than this time around, when the record was on, then off and on again in the closing stages. He said today that laying his hands on the Tattersall’s Cup (awarded to the overall winning yacht) was the ultimate achievement. “There’s only a couple of boats competing for line honours, but the Tattersall’s Cup – it’s nearly the whole fleet - it’s a big deal,” he said.
The yacht shaved 16 minutes and 58 seconds off her 2005 record when she crossed the finish line on Friday 28 December at 07.23.12 AEDT.
This is Wild Oats’ sixth line honours victory. Only one other yacht Morna, later re-named Kurrewa IV, has done better. She won line honours seven times, but never won the race outright.
Richards is now setting his sights on equaling the record seven wins.
“You get close
to something like that and it becomes a real goal for us,” he said.
“I’m sure there’ll be bigger and better boats out next
year, so we’ll just see what happens.”
southerly hits fleet
The Bureau of Meteorology’s predictions at the final briefing of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia on Boxing Day morning warned competitors of a gale force southerly, so it has come as no surprise. However, it will be uncomfortable and unpleasant.
Meanwhile the bitter pill for Chris Bull and his Jazz (NSW) crew and Victorian Jason Van Der Slot and his crew on Calm this morning, is the ‘so close and yet so far’, as both crews come to grips with the fact that both thought they could have the overall win and the Tattersall’s Cup in their hands, only they were stopped by parking lots close to the finish.
It is expected to be announced later this morning that Wild Oats XI has repeated their 2005 performance and taken the triple of race record, line and overall win.
Winning the famous 628 nautical mile race overall is often like the toss of the dice – the weather is either with you, or against you. This year it was more suited to the bigger yachts which stormed home in big northerly and north-easterly winds.
Calm, moored at Kings Pier this morning, her co-owner Van Der Slot and crew looked shattered. Had they finished the race just after 1.00am this morning, the race was theirs. Unfortunately, they found two parking lots close to the finish.
“The Tasman hasn’t been good to us. We parked for two hours off Tasman Island and for an hour in the Derwent. We watched Jazz come up to us under kite – they took 20 miles out of us finding their own private breeze. We only just beat them over the line – that was hard,” Van der Slot said.
“We were aiming to finish in time to win – around 1.00am – that’s the cruelty of it all. Up to Tasman Island, we were on track. It had all gone according to plan until then… We did everything possible to win this race. It was perfect until the last section – we had their (Wild Oats XI and Jazz) measure.
“It doesn’t help being the top TP52 home: we wanted to win. Our crew was prepared – we trained in the gym – and we made sure the boat was prepared – in fact, we were so well prepared, broke nothing on our boat,” said Van Der Slot.
The Victorian said he had beat the likes of Shogun (Rob Hanna) and Cougar II (Anthony Lyall) because: “We stayed offshore at bit at St Helens, the others went in.”
Tenth across the line, the Brindabella crew were happy with their lot in life, even though they had parked up with so many others who finished, or were on the way to the finish this morning. “Jim’s (owner Jim Cooney) pretty happy; we finished two places better on line than last year,” sailing master Brad Kellett said.
Kellett told how they found the big parking lot with a lot of others. “We reached Maria Island and ran out of breeze,” he said. “I handed the helm to one of our young guys, Tristan Cross, and said ‘It’s your turn to steer backwards, I already had a go at doing that in the CYCA Trophy Series!’
“We’re pretty pleased with our race,” said Kellett, who told of the match race to the finish line with Bob Steel’s 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart winner, Quest, whom they shared their finish time with.
Kellett said that like the bigger yachts before them, they had enjoyed the fast running conditions. “The only damage we did was to blow up an A4 kite and one of the bunks.”
Twelve yachts had finished the race at 9.00am, the latest arrival being the 2010 overall winner, Holdens Secret Mens Business, owned by South Australian Geoff Boettcher.
The next two boats to arrive
will be internationals; Japan’s KLC Bengal 7 (Yoshihiko Murase)
and Ambersail (Simonas Steponavicius), the race’s first ever entry
from Lithuania. The two were racing within 20 minutes of each other.
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