Just over three hours into the 2014 Rolex Sydney-Hobart, the two Australian 100ft super-maxis Perpetual Loyal and Ragamuffin were leading the race for line honours by 3nm from pre-race favourites Comanche and Wild Oats XI.
The US-owned Comanche showed a clean pair of heels in Sydney Harbour, getting to the ocean turning mark off the Heads in just over 10 minutes. She was closely followed by Wild Oats XI and those two headed out to sea while Loyal and Rags tacked on to port and stayed inshore.
The inshore track has paid off and the four leaders are now beating into a freshening southerly at around 13 knots of boat speed. They are rapidly approaching Wollongong and Loyal is currently ahead of Wild Oats XI's race record set in 2012.
The Kiwi-based Volvo 70 Giacomo is 3nm behind Wild Oats and 3nm ahead of her prime rival, another Volvo 70 Black Jack which also paid the price for heading too far east.. To illustrate how well the inshore track has worked, the old Black Jack, an RP66 now named Alive, is just 1nm behind Giacomo and almost on the transom of the fifth 100 footer, the former Lahana which is now known as Rio 100. This second tier of boats is currently sailing at between 11 and 12 knots.
As the southerly front closes in and the rain starts to fall, spare a thought for those at the back of the pack. Already trailing the leaders by 27nm and sailing at a comparatively modest 5.5 knots are Quickpoint Azurro and Takani.
It is very early days but the Brits are leading the race for the Tattersalls Trophy (IRC), with Richard Dobbs' Titania of Cowes in first place overall. She is followed by another Division 2 boat, Warwick Sherman's Occasional Coarse Language Too and Jim Delegat's Giacomo, which leads Division 0 ahead of the super-maxis.
Ray Roberts' OneSails Racing leads Division 1 and Simon Kurts' beautiful old Love and War leads Division 4 and is fourth overall. Ian Creak's Osreo leads Division 3 but the race has so far not been kind to boats of that size, as she is in 26th overall.
There have been two retirements so far, Bear Necessity and Tina of Melbourne. No details of why they have retired are available at this stage.
Current standings can be found at http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/standings/?raceId=103&categoryId=446&raceTime=
– Roger McMillan, Editor.