The Eastcoaster race fleet have struggled with a complete lack of wind overnight, at the moment the measure at Hogan Island has them in 10 – 12 knots East South Easterlies. In a tactical difference XLR8 has stayed on the rhumbline and gone to the outside of Curtis Island inside Devils Tower whilst Cartouche have taken a route inside Curtis Island pushing them off the rhumbline but presumably giving them better wind speed. XlR8 still lead on Line Honours but the handicap prizes are split across the fleet. Once they round Flinders Island they can expect to catch a building north-easterly which will push them south at 20 – 25 knots. The spinnakers will be packed ready to be cracked out as soon as they get around.
Flinders Island is a mark of the course and they must stay north of that mark and not attempt to cut the corner and travel to the East Coast through Banks Strait. This is a safety feature as they are not encouraged to ‘shoot the gap’.
The fleet to Devonport has at last got some breeze with 10 – 15 knots from the east but dying down to 5 knots. Gusto is currently 60 nms out ahead of Wicked by 7 nms meaning they are still not going to finish until 8 or 9 this evening, if this wind holds in for them. If you had Champagne on board you might be enjoying the ride but in a race you may well be tempted to sacrifice the Champagne to Huey in the hope of some breeze.
On the west coast the fleet are faring a little better, at King Island they have 10 – 15 knots from the north east and are abeam of King Island now. They are heading into building breeze with Cape Grim reporting 15 – 20 knots also north easterly. Not only do they have the benefit of the building breeze but it is also directionally suitable. Laurie Ford’s Spirit of Downunder is leading and loves this style of breeze it is a downwind flyer. Addiction although smaller is not letting them get away, this beautifully sailed vessel is maximising their speed they will be flying their kites and all boats will be revelling in the conditions and thankful they took the westcoast route to Hobart.
The west coast is showing solid building breezes down through Cape Sorrell from the North East swinging North during the day and increasing 20-25 knots, with a sea state building slightly they will be keeping off shore tonight to maximise the available wind. Whilst the ETA is still showing as the 31st we can expect this to reduce as they fly down the coast in the stronger winds.
– Jennifer McGuigan
Mixed fortunes were had on the water today with all fleets experiencing strange breezes and a few minor mishaps.
The Devonport race is about to be decided with Brian Pattinson’s Gusto within an hour of the finish, they are tantalisingly close to the line but the wind has gone to sleep for the night. Wicked and Peccadillo are incredibly close as they bring up second and third spots heading for the mouth of the Mersey River.
On the east coast, Ray Shaw in XLR8 has put the foot to the floor on his way around Flinders Island and shown a clean stern to his fellow competitors. He has put 30 nm between himself and his chasers and is displaying better boat speed. He will also have better wind direction once he is completely around the Island. Shaw has laid the angle beautifully and is now cracking off for the downward run.
The west coast fleet have had the best of the weather and have made good progress with all tracking along the coast at this point. Laurie Ford had some problems overnight when they experienced exceptionally slow boat speed. After some head scratching it appears they were carting half of the Bass Straits kelp around their keel. If you saw them turn around on the tracker and move backwards that was dislodging the kelp.
Ford then powered away trying to put space between himself and the tenacious Addiction but their campaign has been somewhat derailed by blowing out their mast head spinnaker. Ford said ‘we managed to pick up the pieces but lost 15 minutes’. More importantly he is now relying on a rather old asymmetric spinnaker hence he has moved away from the coast to accommodate the angle. McGarvie and Davidson are driving Addiction like the very devil, hunting Spirit of Downunder and sensing blood or indeed spinnaker in the water. Addiction already holds the lead in two of the three handicap divisions, the final division sitting with the smallest boat in the fleet, Seduction, Richard Nichols 34 footer out of Mornington.