Training for the maxi tri IDEC Sport, skipper Francis Joyon, and his crew, prior to their circumnavigation crew record attempt for Trophy Jules Verne, off Belle Ile, on october 12, 2016 - Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Training for the maxi tri IDEC Sport, skipper Francis Joyon, and his crew, prior to their circumnavigation crew record attempt for Trophy Jules Verne, off Belle Ile, on october 12, 2016 – Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

The Maxi Trimaran IDEC SPORT sailed by Francis Joyon, Clément Surtel, Alex Pella, Bernard Stamm, Gwénolé Gahinet and Sébastien Audigane won the Jules Verne Trophy, the outright round the world sailing record, this morning.

They crossed the finish at 0749hrs UTC on Thursday 26th January 2017.
Francis Joyon and his crew sailed the 22,461 theoretical miles in 40 days, 23 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds, at an average speed of 22.84 knots.
Out on the water, they actually sailed 26,412 miles at an average speed of 26.85 knots.
They shattered the previous record set by Loïck Peyron and the crew of the maxi trimaran Banque Populaire V by 4 days, 14 hours, 12 minutes and 23 seconds.
During this round the world voyage, they smashed no fewer than six intermediate records at Cape Leeuwin, off Tasmania, on the International Date Line, at Cape Horn, at the Equator and off Ushant.
Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

 

As far as the America’s Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill is concerned, there is now unfinished business between Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winner Wild Oats XI and the US supermaxi she beat across the finish line, Comanche.

Spithill was one of six helmsmen on Comanche.

“We can’t leave it at that,” he declared after finishing in Hobart. He says that on his watch this morning the boat reached a top speed of 32 knots and knows what she is capable of.

“Everybody got to see the true potential of this boat at the start. I remember looking up at Kenny (Ken Read, the skipper) and he just had this huge grin from ear to ear. Unfortunately we just didn’t see those sort of conditions again until the end of Bass Strait.”

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Of course, young James doesn’t pay the bills. Logistically it is impossible for Comanche to come back to Australia next year but is 2016 likely?

Skipper Ken Read deferred to co-owner Kristy Hinze Clark who said it was a matter for the Big Chief, husband Jim Clark.

Ken: “Kristy, they want to know if we’ll be back next year?”

Kristy: “They’ll have to talk to big chief!”

Ken: “Big chief is not going to talk about that now!”

Read reflected on the crucial point of the race – the high-pressure ridge in Bass Strait.

“We were about a quarter of the way into Bass Strait and expecting a westerly breeze, and all of a sudden Stan (navigator Stan Honey) came up from down below and said ‘I just got a new weather file, this is not looking good’.

“We were two miles ahead of them, in bumpy seas, and they literally went by us, probably going a knot or two faster at the time, and they just sailed into more pressure and just kept extending on the whole fleet.

“Both boats sailed a flawless race; but they had their day. They had 12 hours where they had Wild Oats’ weather, but that’s racing.

“You can already see Comanche is already changing sailing as we speak,” Read said.

So after this first race have they identified any changes they will make to the boat?

“Here’s the start of my list,” he said, holding up a piece of paper with top-secret to-dos written on it.

“It’s brand new, we’re just starting. Before this race started, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We knew we had a good boat right off the start line, the way it just took off on that windy reach.

“Unfortunately we’ve always known we had that one blemish in light air, and that became a dominant feature in the race, so that’s unfortunate for us.”

Designer Xavier Guilbaud said he couldn’t take his eyes off the yacht tracker, keeping notes as Comanche changed angles and the wind circled the compass.

And, he was a bit more forthcoming with his list.

“I’m excited to see Ken’s list, but on top of my own list, what I can see, is work on the weight of the boat to try to lighten her up a bit more, to increase performances in light winds,” he said.

“I’ll discuss with the guys here, a little later, the little bits and pieces on the deck to improve manoeuvres, how the boat is sailed. Then on the sail configuration; how to use each sail, in which condition and improve the sail shapes.

“I think we do have a record breaker on our hands. The real answer will be in June next year when it does the Transatlantic Race. I think the boat is really fast.”

Read was effusive in his praise of the Wild Oats’ crew.

“Wild Oats deserves all its success,” he said, though fate had been against them on Day 2 in Bass Strait when Wild Oats made the better of negotiating a weather ridge that proved the defining moment of the race.

“This was their day; they had their 12 hours; they had Wild Oats’ weather; but that is boat racing,” he said.

“They deserve their eighth record, Lord knows we tried hard to take it from them. This team, our team, did an unbelievable job, and special credit to the boat builders and the design team because Lord knows we tried to break it, and it wouldn’t break.”

By Bruce Montgomery, RSHYR Media

 WILD OATS XI (AUS) set the actual racecourse record in 2012 Race Start - WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards  (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

WILD OATS XI (AUS) set the actual racecourse record in 2012 Race Start – WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

 

Wild Oats XI  leads the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet in for a record eighth line honours win.  Wild Oats Xi finished the race in a time of  :  2 Days,  2 Hours,  3 Minutes and 26 seconds.

The only yacht capable of denying Wild Oats XI and Mark Richards an 8th win and a place in history was the American Maxi Comanche.  Ken Read and crew gave their best but weren’t able to close the 10 mile gap in the final stretch through Storm Bay and the Derwent River and to the finish line in Hobart, Tasmania.

The Mark Richards-skippered Wild Oats XI extended her lead throughout the second night, taking advantage of a high-pressure ridge in the Bass Strait. Wild Oats XI’s lead proved to big for the Comanche team to overcome.

COMANCHE (USA) crashing through the waves on the way south to Tasmania Race Start COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

COMANCHE (USA) crashing through the waves on the way south to Tasmania Race Start COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

The remainder of the fleet are compressed coming down the New South Wales coast and expected to benefit from the dramatic increase in breeze forecast from Sunday evening to Monday morning.

Of the 117 yachts which started the race, nice have been forced to retire. The Maxi Perpetual Loyal

Follow the race on the live tracker:

http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/tracker/

 

 

Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

 

Opera House and Harbour Bridge as impressive background for the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart (Phot by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Opera House and Harbour Bridge as impressive background for the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart (Phot by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Seven hours into the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Jim Clark’s 100-ft Maxi Comanche(USA) leads the fleet. A memorable edition of the 628-nm race appears certain, with the contest between the fleet’s five Maxi yachts living up to the pre-race hype.
At 8:00pm local time, Comanche leads seven-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI by one nautical mile, with Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal and Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 just a few miles behind the leading duo. Overnight the breeze is forecast to lighten as a high pressure system approaches. How the frontrunners navigate this transition could be a critical factor in their race.

Comanche makes mark

Racing COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Racing COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

A fleet of 117 international yachts graced today’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start. The thousands of spectators lining the shoreline in Sydney were treated to a dramatic start as the leading yachts powered their way out of Sydney Harbour and began the famous 628-nautical mile offshore race to Hobart.

Celebrations for the 70th edition of the race commenced with a Parade of Sail of historic Rolex Sydney Hobart competitors before the race start. A fitting tribute to the race, which has become an international icon since its inauguration in 1945.
Comanche had an incredible start reaching the first course mark at record speed.  Race record holder Wild Oats XI gallantly tried to keep pace, watching in awe as Comanche laid down an early indicator of her potential. “Look at that thing go!,” screamed Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards.

WILD OATX XI (AUS) SAILING TOWARDS HOBART  Racing WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

WILD OATX XI (AUS) SAILING TOWARDS HOBART Racing WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

“We couldn’t be more ready at this stage,” admitted Comanche skipper Ken Read shortly before the race start. “The team has done a Herculean effort to get the boat ready. We are here to compete, it’s the fun part of our job.”

“Going into a southerly the first night is always a bit of a challenge,” said Mark Richards going into the race. “(The boat) being ten years old though is a little bit of an advantage for us as we know the boat very well.”

MANOUCH MOSHAYEDI'S RIO 100 (USA), ONE OF FIVE 100FT MAXIS IN CONTENTION  Race Start RIO 100, Sail n: USA2121, Bow n: 98, Design: Bakewell-White 100, Owner: Manouch Moshayedi, Skipper: Manouch Moshayedi (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

MANOUCH MOSHAYEDI’S RIO 100 (USA), ONE OF FIVE 100FT MAXIS IN CONTENTION Race Start RIO 100, Sail n: USA2121, Bow n: 98, Design: Bakewell-White 100, Owner: Manouch Moshayedi, Skipper: Manouch Moshayedi (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Shortly after the start, Peter Isler, navigator on Manouch Moshayedi’s RIO 100 reported: “We are definitely learning our boat in these conditions. It’s very rough, sailing upwind in 25-27 knots, pounding hard into short, steep waves.”

The rough conditions have proved demanding for a number of the fleet with four retirements already recorded.

The race record for leading yachts to beat is 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds, set by Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI in 2012.

The Rolex Sydney Hobart is organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) and has been sponsored by Rolex since 2002.

Follow the progress of the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht fleet at: http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/tracker/

MATT ALLEN'S ICHI BAN DURING THE FIRST EVENING OF THE RACE  Racing ICHI BAN, Sail n: AUS01, Bow n: O1, Design: Carkeek 60, Owner: Matt Allen, Skipper: Matt Allen (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

MATT ALLEN’S ICHI BAN DURING THE FIRST EVENING OF THE RACE Racing ICHI BAN, Sail n: AUS01, Bow n: O1, Design: Carkeek 60, Owner: Matt Allen, Skipper: Matt Allen (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

 

Wild Oats XI (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Wild Oats XI (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Entries for the 70th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race officially closed on the evening of Friday 31 October. The resulting line-up of 119 yachts – set to be the event’s largest in a decade – is befitting of such a historic occasion. The presence of five 100 foot Maxis will steal the news headlines, but the impressive nature of the fleet stretches far beyond the fastest boats. Adding lustre to the occasion are a host of yachts that have won the race before, ten international entrants, and an array of Australian crews spearheaded by sailors with over 40 editions of the race to their name.

In keeping with tradition the race starts at 13:00 local time on 26 December, Boxing Day, from Sydney Harbour. The destination is Hobart, Tasmania over a famous 628-nautical mile racecourse. The competition has been sponsored by Rolex since 2002 and forms an integral part of its triumvirate of offshore races comprising the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Comanche raider

At the front of the fleet, the quest for line honours promises to be open and competitive. Bob Oatley’s 100-ft Wild Oats XI has been the fastest yacht on the water in seven of the last nine race editions. Experience, guile and knowledge of the conditions ensure the Mark Richards-skippered yacht starts as favourite in the race to be first to finish.

Comanche VPLP 100 (Photo © George Bekris)

Comanche VPLP 100 (Photo © George Bekris)

Anthony Bell, line honours winner in 2011, will be one of those hoping to knock Wild Oats XI off her stride. His yacht Perpetual Loyal has strong pedigree in the race and an excellent crew, which includes 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby.

Comanche VPLP 100 (Photo © George Bekris)

Comanche VPLP 100 (Photo © George Bekris)

A layer of the unknown has been introduced with the entry from the United States of Jim Clark’s Comanche. Clark has made a bold statement – shipping his brand new 100 foot Ken Read-skippered yacht to Sydney immediately following its October launch in New England. This will be the boat’s first race – the ultimate baptism of fire! Clark has sought to dilute expectations, asserting Comanche was not designed with the Rolex Sydney Hobart in mind, and pointing to a lack of preparation time: “The boat and crew will have had only a couple of weeks on the water before we ship it to Australia. There’s a lot of work to do before the race start. In the short term, I don’t have high expectations, but in the long term, I think this boat could really set a mark.”

COMANCHE FIRST SAIL VIDEO 

The fourth 100-ft Maxi to watch is Ragamuffin 100. Owner Syd Fischer, at 87 years of age and with 45 Rolex Sydney Hobarts to his name, has virtually rebuilt  Ragamuffin 100 fitting its original deck to a new hull. The ultimate competitor, including line honours winner at the Rolex China Sea Race last April, he has more knowledge of the race than almost any other entrant. Completing the line up of 100 foot Maxis, is the outsider – American entrant RIO 100 previously competed in the race under the guise of Lahana and counts expert American navigator Peter Isler as part of its crew.

Chasing Victoire

The history of the Rolex Sydney Hobart proves that the overall winner of the race can come from anywhere within the fleet. Prevailing conditions often determine whether the larger or smaller yachts are favoured. In 2013, Darryl Hodgkinson’s 50-ft Victoire claimed victory following in the wake of a diverse range of recent winners Two True (40-ft, 2009), Loki (60-ft, 2011) and Wild Oats XI (100-ft, 2012). Victoire is seeking to become the first boat to successfully retain the Tattersall’s Cup since the mid-1960s.

International influence

In keeping with its international reputation and wide global interest, the Rolex Sydney Hobart always welcomes an array of foreign entrants who have to overcome the added logistical challenge of shipping or sailing their boat to Sydney. Along with American entrants Comanche andRIO 100, yachts from the Cayman Islands, Germany, New Zealand, Poland and the United Kingdom add foreign glamour to the 119-strong fleet.

NIKATA  in heavy seas (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

NIKATA in heavy seas (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Festive atmosphere

Pre-race celebrations will include a Parade of Sail of historic Rolex Sydney Hobart entrants before hundreds of thousands of spectators ashore and on the water in Sydney. The race start will be broadcast live throughout Australia and also webcast live to a global audience. Given the wide interest in this 70th edition, victory will have an extra coat of fulfilment.

Overall winner under IRC - Varuna, Ker 51, Jens Kellinghusen (GER) - 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race - Rick Tomlinson/RORC

Overall winner under IRC – Varuna, Ker 51, Jens Kellinghusen (GER) – 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race – Rick Tomlinson/RORC

The Royal Ocean Racing Club has declared Jens Kellinghusen’s Ker 51, Varuna (GER), as the overall winner under IRC of the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race.
Sevenstar Yacht Transport have also awarded Jens Kellinghusen with a $20,000 voucher to ship Varuna to their selected destination worldwide, which will be used to transport Varuna to Malta to take part in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, the final race of the RORC Season’s Points Championship.

Although six yachts are still racing, none of them can better Varuna’s corrected time racing under IRC. Jens Kellinghusen was quick to praise his crew for their performance, Varuna has no powered winches and the tough conditions required tremendous physical exertion and long hours hiking out on the rail:

“The weather conditions really suited Varuna. Our biggest competition was with the canting keel boats, which would have preferred reaching, but the downwind conditions towards the end were ideal for us. I am so happy for the crew as they all did a great job and the boat held together in some testing conditions. I am very pleased, this is the first time we have participated and we really enjoyed the race. We already use Sevenstar for transporting Varuna, so the $20,000 from the sponsors is very much appreciated.”

Celebrations for Varuna on the dock after crossing the finish of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race - Credit: Patrick Eden/RORC

Celebrations for Varuna on the dock after crossing the finish of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race – Credit: Patrick Eden/RORC

 

Varuna’s Winning Crew:

Jens Kellinghusen, Owner, Hamburg, Germany
Tim Daase, Pit/Boat Captain, Wewelsfleth, Germany
Guenter Alajmo, Runner, Hamburg, Germany
Guillermo Altadill, Navigator, Barcelona, Spain
Luke Molloy, Trimmer, Brisbane, Australia
David Blass, Trimmer, Braunschweig, Germany
Fynn Terveer, Pit, Kiel, Germany
Jan Hilbert, Driver, Kiel Germany
Gunnar Knierim, Driver, Kiel, Germany
Peter Knight, Bow, Guernsey, UK
Christian Stoffers, Bow, Kiel, Germany
Alastair Sayers, Bow, Hobart, Tasmania

At 0900 BST Friday 22 August, the remaining six yachts racing in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race are experiencing downwind conditions in plenty of breeze. J/122, Relentless on Jellyfish, skippered by James George, was just 38 miles from the finish holding off a strong challenge from the Army Sailing Association’s J/111, British Soldier, which is six miles behind the on-the-water leader. Both yachts are expected to finish this afternoon.

Hanse 531, Saga, skippered by Peter Hopps, passed The Lizard at midnight. At 0900 BST, Saga was 30 miles from Portland Bill with 100 miles to go. Saga is expected to finish the race around midnight on Saturday 23rd August.

Rare Leads the Two-Handers

Just after midnight last night, Ian Hoddle’s Figaro II, Rare, passed Liam Coyne’s First 36.7, Lula Belle, as the Two-Handed teams approached the Scilly Isles. At 0900 BST Rare had extended their lead by 11 miles to lead on the water as the two yachts passed The Lizard. However, after time correction, Lula Belle is still the leading the Two-Handed Class by a considerable margin. Werner Landwehr’s Figaro II, Dessert D’Alcyone, was 70 miles from the Scilly Isles, 300 miles from the finish.
Liam Coyne’s First 36.7, Lula Belle – Credit: Paul Wyeth/RORC

Liam Coyne, skipper of Lula Belle, contacted the Royal Ocean Racing Club in the early hours of this morning. The Irish pair of Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive have been racing for 11 days surviving gale force winds, but fatigue and gear failure is taking its toll. Lula Belle’s engine has failed to start, essential to charge their batteries, and the sails are showing signs of the battering they have received.

Without access to the fleet tracking player on the RORC website, Liam was unaware that Rare was passing them, as Liam Coyne wrote this from Lula Belle, while at sea:

“Day 10 (I think). Winds filled in quicker at Mizen Head than we expected. Thank God we still have the A5 kite and she was great today. With no electronics on board we don’t know speeds, but we are flying. We expected Rare to rocket past us today, so we were going fast to hold him off. We are now 10 nm from the Scillys and we took the A5 down as it was getting to hard to hold. Lucky we decided to, as there were two more areas needed sewing which our “MacGyver” on board Brian duly did. Handy to have such a multi tasker. We hope when we round the next mark we might get one more spin out of the A5. It’s literally hanging on by a thread.

“On a lighter side the other night we had a show to remember. As anyone who sails knows there is an algae in the water, which when disturbed by the boat’s wake causes it to light up. On a really frustrating watch where the sky was pure black it was almost impossible to helm. At night we usually pick a cloud or star to follow. A night with black clouds and little wind is exhausting. I was nearly in tears with frustration when the dolphins showed up. We see them every day but this night I presume it was the black sky but they were lit up white (from the Algae) and not only were they illuminated they left a 20′ trail of illuminated water after them. It looked like the Red Arrows doing synchronized swimming. For 30 minutes I forgot about the Boat went and sat at the mast and watched the show of a lifetime. All day we see them break water but here you could see them underwater darting here and there. Sometimes 3 abreast going left, right left right over and over in perfect harmony leaving the illuminated trails in their wakes. It was an unbelievable sight. Nice of them to cheer a sailor up on a tough night.”

Photo courtesy of Clipper Round the World Race

Photo courtesy of Clipper Round the World Race

WITH JUST A FEW MILES SEPARATING THE TOP THREE TEAMS AND WITH LESS THAN 35 MILES UNTIL THE FINISH LINE OF RACE 7, THE FIERCE SPRINT TO WIN THE MAXIMUM 12 POINTS AND SECURE A COVETED PODIUM POSITION IS WELL UNDERWAY.

The Northern Irish entry, Derry~Londonderry~Doire has led for the majority of 1075 mile sprint that is Race 7. However, could it be all change in the final chapter of this race as Switzerland, and current overall leader OneDLL show no sign of relinquishing its lead as it begins the final chase to Brisbane, Australia.
Skipper of Derry~Londonderry~Doire, Sean McCarter knows a mistake at this vital stage of the race could cost him and his team those all-important 12 points and the teams second consecutive win. “Well we’re less than 50 miles from the finish and speeding towards it at speeds of up to 20 knots. Our good friends on OneDLL were unlucky to lose their medium weight spinnaker yesterday evening and have dropped back a little from ourselves and Switzerland. 

“We have at least one gybe to lay the finish line and are all praying that our repaired heavyweight kite will survive it. We could drop, repack, gybe and re-hoist but this would almost certainly give Switzerland the advantage.” 

PSP logistics is in full ‘work mode’ making full use of the teams retirement from Race 7 which will allow the team more time to prepare in Brisbane ahead of Leg 5 and the 5,000 mile race to Singapore and Qingdao, China.

With the majority of the fleet having successfully completed the Ocean Sprint, GREAT Britain’s ‘unlucky’ streak struck again with yet another Ocean Sprint set back. Skipper Simon Talbot, explains: 

“You may remember that every time we attempt to have a serious go at an Ocean Sprint, something, generally spinnaker related, goes wrong. Well you guessed it, this time was no exception, we were running along really nicely under our medium weight spinnaker, averaging nearly 14 knots and making excellent progress when one particularly big wave picked the boat up and rounded her up to windward.

“Add to this that the big wave also brought with it some extra wind, as is often the case, then you may be able to guess what happened next. Yes, you got it, an almighty broach and before we had time to recover, the bulk of the spinnaker was in the water with a small section of the head still flying from the mast top – argh! The curse had struck again.”

All positions reported as at the time of writing and are changing frequently. Check the Clipper Race tracker for the latest positions.

To read all the skipper reports click here and to view the latest ETAs click here

To track the fleets progress on the official Race Viewer click here

FROM SYDNEY, INTO THE FRAY

Rolex Sydney Hobart Start 2013 by Daniel Forster

Rolex Sydney Hobart Start 2013 (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

The low pressure system that brought rain to the Sydney area yesterday moved out to sea, providing picture perfect conditions today – a 15-18 knot southeasterly, sunshine and blue skies – for the 94-boat fleet starting the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

Boxing Day spectators lined the Sydney shoreline, and pleasure boats, ferries and all manner of craft jockeyed for a place outside the harbour’s exclusion zone, to watch the 94-boat fleet, go off at the 1:00pm (AEDT) starter’s cannon. The size and speed of the top end of this year’s fleet required a change to three staggered start lines.

The bigger boats, on the forward-most line, set their giant code zero headsails and were quickly off on a starboard reach: while 100-footers Wild Oats XI and Perpetual Loyal were drag-racing in front, just behind were Beau Geste, Ragamuffin, and Wild Thing along with the Volvo 70s, Black Jack and Giacomo. The 80-foot Beau Geste, with the pedal down, rounded the turning mark second, behind Wild Oats XI.

Maxis at Sydney Hobart Start by Carlo Borlenghi

Maxis at Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2013 Start (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

The south-southeasterly breeze, combined with the spectator fleet wash, outside of the race exclusion zone, caused a washing machine-like chop, but that will pale with what is predicted for the fleet further down the 628-nautical mile race track.

The forecast is for lighter winds tonight and tomorrow, before a north-northeasterly fills in, providing ideal downwind conditions. For tacticians on the bigger, faster boats how they manage this transition will be key. For now they will endeavour to get as far south, as fast as they can.

Behind them, the smaller boats will be facing westerly gale-force winds predicted for late Saturday night (60 hours after the start) in Bass Strait and down to Tasman Island. Adding to these punishing conditions will be a westerly swell upwards of ten meters.

But the race more often than not, serves up tough conditions. Prior to the start, many of the skippers and crews, chalked up the forecast as fairly typical. Roger Hickman, skipper of Wild Rose, is a race veteran, having started in 35 races, and completed 33 of them.  Hickman said, “It is what it is. Tonight should be quiet, tomorrow quiet and then I believe we’re going to get a real pasting in Bass Strait, fresh to frightening, gale-force winds, but that’s the way it is.

The experience, the talent and the sea
miles that are in this race are astounding
Roger Hickman, skipper of Wild Rose

Hickman acknowledged that the boats and crew were up to the task, adding, “There’s a great fleet of boats here, but what’s more important is the crew. Every one of these magnificent boats is full of competitive, competent, solid yachtsmen. The experience, the talent and the sea miles that are in this race are astounding.”

Brendan Garner, on the Beneteau 45, Senna, will be racing for the first time as skipper, having done the race five races before. Garner said, “It’s going to be a complicated race; there’s going to be a lot of gear changes. We’ve done a fair bit of work with our sail systems and set-ups, so we’re quite comfortable with that. Overall we’re not too fussed with the forecast, we’re quite happy with it.”

A successful Etchells-class sailor, Garner commented on the change up from one-design to offshore and said, “You’re out there for a long time, you have to be mentally and physically prepared. It’s a race of endurance.”

Crowds at Sydney Hobaret 2013 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Crowds at Sydney Hobaret 2013 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

By late afternoon, many of the bigger boats had headed offshore looking for more favorable breeze; the front-runners were 15-25 nautical miles east of Kiama, making 15-16 knots of speed upwind.

Tracker

Current status of the race will be available on the online tracker at: http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/tracker/

EVENT PROGRAMME

From Saturday, 28 December

Arrival of the first boats in Hobart

Wednesday, 1 January
11:00 Final prize giving, Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (RYCT)

Sydney Hobart Start by Daniel Forster

Sydney Hobart Start (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)