Gusto takes line honours in Melbourne to Devonport Race

It is inconceivable for most of us to understand the frustration of being within a single nautical mile of the finish and have the wind shut down on you completely.  That is what happened to Gusto at the mouth of the Mersey River.  Brian Pattinson skipper of Gusto tried everything including dropping his mainsail to prevent ‘flogging’ but any forward progress was negated by the outward tidal flow.

Eventually a wisp came across the bow and then another, the sails filled and Gusto eventually crossed the line at 20:19:25.  An elapsed time of 1d 7hrs 49mins.  Congratulations to Brian Pattinson and his crew for their perseverance and tenacity.

This morning Melbourne to Hobart Race Director, Nick McGuigan, asked for the following strong wind warning to read to the fleet prior to the compulsory sked.

Strong Wind Warning South East Cape to Low Rocky Point

A trough and cold front will cross the state during today, bringing a westerly change. Another cold front is expected to cross Tasmania during tomorrow, causing winds to shift strong southwesterly in its wake, as a high moves over the Bight. The relatively weak high will pass just to the north of Tasmania on Wednesday as a cold front crosses waters south of the Bight.

Winds: North to northeasterly 10 to 20 knots turning west to northwesterly 20 to 25 knots in the early afternoon. Winds reaching up to 30 knots during the afternoon and evening.

Seas: 1 to 2 metres, increasing to 2 to 3 metres around midday.

Swell: West to southwesterly 2.5 to 3 metres.

Weather: Cloudy. 90% chance of showers. The chance of a thunderstorm inshore in the early afternoon.

Overnight the fleet has enjoyed terrific wind conditions with northerlies to 20 knots giving them a kite ride down the coast.  Laurie Ford’s, Spirit of Downunder continues to lead the field but behind him are big changes.  Addiction which had been challenging Ford since the start moved a long way to the west of the rhumbline last night and although now heading back to the coast has dropped to 7th on Line Honours finish.  We can only speculate as to why they took this diversion and hope they are back on track.

Paul Neilson skipper of Turbulence however has had a great night placing his Adams 11.9 firmly in second place for Line Honours followed by Blue Chip.  Neilson is showing great boat speed and will continue to challenge Ford who is without his mast head spinnaker after it blew out yesterday.  It is the little 34 footer Seduction with skipper Richard Nichols that is the one to watch, currently leading in all three handicap divisions.

The fleet will be kept busy in the forecast strong winds but are at least facing into that in daylight.  The sea state whilst big is from behind so should not be too uncomfortable as they head towards the South West Cape.

ETA for the first finisher is around midnight tonight however if they hit the Derwent in the dark they can expect some problems as it notoriously ‘closes down’ at night.

The East coast fleet have enjoyed good strong north easterly breeze overnight.  Race leader Ray Shaw on XLR8 has continued his dominating position and is now abeam of St Helens.

Cartouche and Fuzzy Logic have both made their mandatory safety declaration on this morning’s sked, showing that they mean to continue to Hobart.

This fleet is expecting to continue to enjoy the northerlies albeit that they will need to show caution as the wind speed builds.

Jennifer McGuigan

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