The ORCV Melbourne to Hobart fleet is approaching north west Tasmania after the yachts safely crossed Bass Strait in light conditions on their way to Hobart. Overnight, northerly winds kept the fleet heading slightly west of the rhumb line that passes between King Island and Tasmania.
During the night the yachts experienced changeable weather conditions, including rain fronts and no wind ‘holes’ that have been predicted to plague this race. How you manage low wind is often the difference between winning and losing the race. Sail selection becomes crucial and even keeping crew movement around the boat to a minimum can make a big difference to the boatspeed.
Overnight, the ORCV tracker showed the fleet spread out to the west of the rhumb line to benefit from the morning's westerly winds, with leader Oskana being chased by Tevake II (Angus Fletcher) but by daybreak Fletcher has been surrounded by Alien (Justin Brenan) and Addiction (Richard McGarvie) along with Whistler (David Aplin).
Taking up the rear is Escapade (Robert Bradley) who had more boat speed on his nearest rival, Maverick, sailed by double-handers Rod Smallman. Favourite and race leader, the canting keel Cookson 50 Oskana is currently past King Island and nearing the mandatory declaration point at 41 degrees south. This is a declaration by HF radio to say that all is well onboard and they are fit and able to enter the west coast and continue racing. The rest of the fleet is bunched up behind Oskana abeam of King Island.
Their 435 mile “West Coaster” course will take them south to experience the swells of the Southern Ocean as they pass few places of refuge – only the infamous Hells Gate entrance to Macquarie Harbour at Strahan and then further south the beautiful wilderness of Port Davey before rounding SW Cape and the east coast of Tasmania for what is arguably Australia's most challenging yacht race.
– Kevin Green and Jennifer McGuigan, ORCV media