Ten boats have either finished or are nearing the finish line in the Hempel Paints 36th Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race, completing what most crew have described as a ‘very pleasant sea voyage' across the northern Tasman Sea.
Ocean Affinity, Stewart Lewis' Martens 49 from the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, became only the second Queensland yacht to take line honours in the ocean classic when she crossed the line off Lord Howe Island's coral lagoon last evening at 9.12pm.
However, the IRC handicap result won't be decided until this evening as Ian Kiernan's 51-year-old yawl Sanyo Maris has until 7.33pm to finish and win he second successive Lord Howe Island Race on corrected time. At this morning's ‘sked' she was 68 nautical miles from the finish of the 414 nm race and making good time, as the race tracker showed that she had reduced this distance to 58 nm about an hour and a half later.
Sydney yacht AFR Midnight Rambler, Ed Psaltis and Bob Thomas' modified Farr 40 from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia finished just before one o'clock this morning and as dawn began to break over this beautiful island five more boats crossed the line.'
Wasabi, the green-hulled Sayer-designed sloop from the Cronulla Sailing Club skippered by Bruce McKay, finished at 04.48 and was followed within the next hour by Stampede, Southern Cross, Copernicus and Amante.
In a remarkable finish, Robert Francis' Stampede, also from Cronulla Sailing Club, beat Bill Gilbert's Southern Cross from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, across the line by just 9 seconds, with Greg Zyner's Copernicus from Manly Yacht Club, just over three minutes further astern.
Of the yachts finished, the provisionally first place boat on corrected time in the IRC division is Amante, Dennis Cooper's 10.1m Murray Burns Dovell-designed sloop, with Greg Zyner's Radford 12 Copernicus in second place, the margin being just 21 minutes and 28 seconds.
Still to finish is Ian Kiernan's 51-year-old yawl Sanyo Maris and at this morning's 0705 radio position reports, she had 67.7 nautical miles to sail. Gosford Sailing Club's computer placed her in third position in the IRC division behind Amante and Copernicus, with former winner AFR Midnight Rambler in fourth place on corrected time.
To win her second successive Lord Howe Island Race, Sanyo Maris must finish before 19:33 hours this evening. She is continuing to make good time this morning and about 90 minutes after the morning sked she had reduced the distance to sail to the island to 58 nautical miles, with a boat speed of just under 5.5 knots.
With only two boats finished in the PHS Division, overall results are still wide open with the computer still placing the Queensland yacht, Charlie's Dream, skippered by Peter Lewis, in top position ahead of Reflection (David Pring) and Polaris of Belmont (Chris Dawe).
At 0800 on a warm and sunny morning on Lord Howe Island, albeit with little wind, Charlie's Dream was approaching the finish line, closely followed by the Gosford Sailing Club entrant Pacha and the Sydney yacht Kioni.
– Peter Campbell