The forecast for the 70th Sydney-Hobart Race is generally benign for most of the fleet, with winds not expected to exceed 30 knots until Monday night, when a cold front crosses Tasmania.
Andrew Treloar from the Bureau of Meteorology told the assembled skippers and navigators that a cold front will pass through Sydney before the race start at 1pm, leaving confused seas but winds of only 15 to 20 knots from the south. This will mean a spinnaker start before the boats beat into the wind after exiting the Heads.
As the afternoon wears on, the winds are expected to strengthen to 25-30 knots, still from the south, making for an uncomfortable night before they decrease and become SE 15-20.
On Saturday morning the leading super-maxis will still have the wind on the nose but it is predicted to go round to the south-west before swinging back to south-east. This will be a difficult and frustrating time for the leaders if the forecast holds true.
By 5pm Saturday north-easters will start to prevail, bringing the mid-size boats up to the leaders as they will be stronger around Green Cape than in Bass Strait. The northerlies are expected to prevail throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning and will strengthen on Sunday night, possibly to gale force.
The cold front that is expected to approach Tasmania on Monday or Tuesday is likely to bring gale force southerlies, slowing the back markers and possibly handing the Tattersalls Trophy to one of the mid-sized boats.
Most skippers were philosophical about the forecast. “It is what it is,” was the common response as crews rushed around getting last-minute coffees and checking stores.
Paul Clitheroe, the owner of TP52 Balance, refused to be drawn on the prospects of a mid-size victory. “I still think the little boats will come home fast,” he said.
Check in with us regularly to see whether the forecast is holding good, and who is benefitting.
– Roger McMillan, Editor.