Saturday, December 26, 2009

Alfa Romeo leads the way – Limit out of Rolex Sydney Hobart

[Source:Rolex Sydney Hobart] Neville Crichton’s Alfa Romeo is leading the hunt for line honours victory in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race early Sunday morning, but it is a three-boat war on the race track, as only five nautical miles separate the New Zealand leader from ICAP Leopard, owned and skippered by Mike Slade from the UK and four-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI, skippered by Mark Richards (NSW).

The three 100ft yachts are travelling at just over 11 knots off Montague Island on the NSW south coast sailing in a 12-14 knot E/SE breeze as they push towards Eden just after 5.00am on day two of the 628 nautical mile ocean classic. Alfa Romeo is sailing the rhumbline route (most direct course to Hobart) and of the three, ICAP Leopard has chosen to sail furthest east of the rhumbline as they hurtle south.

Alfa Romeo is leading the hunt for line honours victory in the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Sydney, 26 December 2009. Photo copyright Rolex / Daniel Forster

There has been a further retirement overnight, making it four retirements from the original 100-yacht fleet. Alan Brierty’s Limit, representing the organising club, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), retired due to rigging issues late last evening, approximately 35nm east of Jervis Bay.

One of the main favourites for overall honours following her recent triumph in the Rolex Trophy Rating Series, Limit will arrive back at the CYCA this morning.

In the race for overall honours, Michael Hiatt’s Farr 55 Living Doll from Melbourne is the current leader, having hauled in the British JV 72 RÁN, owned by Niklas Zennstrom, which had been leading until this morning. However, there is very little in it and these are early days.

Ray Roberts’ Evolution Racing (CYCA) is currently third placed overall in the race for the Tattersall’s Cup, with Ichi Ban, the Jones 70 belonging to CYCA Commodore Matt Allen in fourth place. Ichi Ban has sailed inside the top eight or so since the race started, revelling in moderate upwind and off the breeze conditions the fleet has seen so far.

ICAP Leopard is second close behind. Sydney, 26 December 2009. Photo copyright Rolex / Daniel Forster

The entire fleet is sailing either on the rhumbline or anywhere between 30 to 80nm east of it, to take advantage of the stronger breeze offshore and the current.

Chris Dawe’s Polaris of Belmont is trailing at the back of the fleet, 20nm east of Kiama with 575nm miles to go – a long way from the Rolex Sydney Hobart finish line. The Gosford-based 39 year-old Cole 43 has amassed an incredible 24 Hobart races. Her last place on line means nothing in the scheme of things, the yacht having racked up a number of divisional wins and placings in this race in the past.

Currently, the Bureau of Meteorology predicts south-easterly winds at 10-15 knots tending east/north-east at 10-15 knots on a one metre south/south-easterly swell for the rest of the day. These conditions are good news for the big boats especially, as they will travel downwind fast under spinnaker.

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