For 27 hours, Paul Clitheroe and his Balance crew have been the clubhouse leaders in the race for the Tattersall's Cup, the prized trophy for first on handicap in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
One by one they have seen the challengers fall short. The French Archambault Teasing Machine, leader for the better part of two days, got caught in the light winds of the Derwent and fell four-and-a-half hours short. Another foreign invader, Courrier Leon of Belgium, got within two-and-a-half hours of Balance's corrected time. Defending champion Wild Rose has also crossed the line behind Balance's time.
Now it appears that only the amazing little S&S34 Quickpoint Azzurro can upset Clitheroe's evening. At 8.30pm local time, she was 42.4 nm from the finish and in danger of falling foul of the Derwent's “midnight rule” which states that if you are not at Battery Point by then, you have all rights to wind withdrawn.
At present speed (6.2 knots) Shane Kearns $32,000 bargain is due to cross the finish line at 2.08.41 tomorrow morning, giving her a corrected time that will be two-and-a-half hours quicker than Balance. Even if she slows in the Derwent, she has until 4.43am to reach Battery Point.
The rum and cokes will be flowing slowly at the Customs House as Clitheroe and his TP52 crew count down the minutes.
Regardless of which way it goes, there will be a deserving and popular winner.
– Roger McMillan