Sydney to Hobart set for classic finish as fleet crosses Bass Strait
Advertisement

Sydney to Hobart set for classic finish as fleet crosses Bass Strait

The Sydney to Hobart is shaping up for a thrilling finish, with last year's winner Comanche maintaining a slim lead over Infotrack, Black Jack and Wild Oats XI as the super maxis race across Bass Strait.

At 2pm (AEDT) on Thursday, Comanche, Infotrack and Black Jack were tacking close to the rhumb line, which marks the most direct route to Hobart, while Wild Oats XI took a line further to the east, chasing stronger winds.

Variable winds have seen Black Jack and Wild Oats XI each take the lead over the course of the race.

Full sail: Comanche races south early on day two of the Sydney to Hobart.

Full sail: Comanche races south early on day two of the Sydney to Hobart.Credit:Rolex/Studio Borlenghi

All leading boats are Australian, after Hong Kong entrant Sun Hung Kai Scallywag was forced to retire with a broken bowsprit only hours after the race started at 1pm on Wednesday.

Advertisement

After a quick start, lighter winds have pushed the fleet off last year's record-breaking pace.

Loading

The contest between Wild Oats XI and Comanche has a particular edge after Comanche set a record time last year, only to lose the title to Wild Oats XI after it was hit with a one-hour penalty for coming too close to its rival outside the Sydney heads.

Wild Oats XI crewmember Chris Links said on Thursday morning that the race was the closest his team had contested.

“This is the closest race we’ve been in – we’ve been in close races with Comanche before, but never been in such a close race with four of us,” Links said.

The notoriously fickle Derwent River, which tends to be calm in the early morning when the super maxis are likely to arrive, may once again decide this year's race.

The race for overall honours

AFR Midnight Rambler sailing on smooth seas. The boat later won the storm-wracked 1998 Sydney to Hobart.

AFR Midnight Rambler sailing on smooth seas. The boat later won the storm-wracked 1998 Sydney to Hobart.Credit:Louise Kennerley

Last year's winner Ichi Ban fell off the pace early on Thursday.

By Thursday afternoon, it was in 30th on handicap, while local NSW yacht Midnight Rambler led the pack.

Midnight Rambler is a successor to the yacht of the same name that won the disastrous 1998 Sydney Hobart, when six sailors died after a storm hit the fleet near Bass Strait.

At 5pm on Thursday a message memorialising the tragic race two decades ago will be read to the crews via radio, who will then observe a minute's silence.

The commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, which organises the race, Paul Billingham said: “Our view is that is the appropriate way to recognise and remember what happened.

“The families have moved on. There is closure but there is also remembrance.”

Including Scallywag, four yachts have pulled out of the race after sustaining damage.

Zen, owned by electrical industry entrepeneur Gordon Ketelby, retired with rig damage, which also claimed M3 Team Hungary.

The Hungarian hopeful pulled into shore at Ulladulla on the NSW south coast.

Patriot, from Victoria, was forced out after suffering rudder issues.

Nick is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Most Viewed in Sport

Loading
Advertisement