After stalling in a patch of light winds off the north-west coast of Tasmania, the leaders in the ORCV Melbourne to Devonport Race have picked up speed and are aiming for a cold beer at Mersey Yacht Club this evening.
Angus Fletcher and his crew on Tevake II have re-established their lead over Scott Robinson’s How Bizarre and now lead in the race for line honours as well as in AMS and PHS handicap categories.
According to race director, Nick McGuigan, the first boats should be in Devonport by about 10.30pm, where a warm welcome and some much-needed hot food will be waiting.
For most of the fleet, though, it will be another night of dehydrated dinners before they reach the finish line, between 8 and 9am tomorrow morning if current conditions hold.
There is no early end in sight for competitors in the other ORCV-organised race, the Melbourne to Hobart West Coaster.
At 3.30pm, the three leaders were off the east coast of King Island, still with more than 340nm to sail.
The battle for line honours continues unabated. Guillaume Leroux’s Class 40 Lord Jiminyhas retaken the lead from Douglas Lithgow’s Archambault 40 Soiree Bleu but they and third-placed Archie have all sailed into very light winds and they are struggling to maintain speed of more than 5 knots.
This is good news for the three boats at the back of the fleet. Alien, d’Albora’s Climate Action Now and Saltair were all sailing at 7 knots and closing the gap on the leaders.
It will be an interesting night at sea as winds are forecast to stay below 10 knots until the early hours of Monday morning.
Lisa Blair, who is racing her Hick 40 d’Albora’s Climate Action Now double-handed with Jackie Parry, posted that their first night at sea was rather strange.
“Extreme fickle light airs and then a surprise 25 knots with a 90 degree wind shift. No sleep for me or Jackie Parry and hand steering all night.”
With variable light winds expected again tonight and tomorrow, which can cause the autopilot to lose control of the boat, the pair may be facing a lot more hand-steering and very little sleep.
Interested spectators can track the Melbourne to Hobart fleet at https://race.bluewatertracks.com/2019-orcv-melbourne-to-hobart-westcoaster and the Melbourne to Devonport fleet at https://race.bluewatertracks.com/2019-orcv-melbourne-to-devonport.