The Melbourne to Hobart race fleet have experienced a mixed bag in regards to wind since setting off on the 27th December. They started with decent breeze but soon found some of the many wind holes the course has thrown at them.
Last night until around 9 or 10 pm they were still chasing wisps but getting themselves ready for a night of exhilaration knowing that the northerlies were coming. Sure enough it built giving 20 -25 knots from the North, perfect conditions for the run down the West Coast. These are the days and nights sailors dream of. They will be closely monitoring the wind as they continue south and will be fully aware that the next 12 hours provides a significant window of opportunity for the all important handicap positions. The BOM site shows for the West Coast of Tasmania the north westerly continuing to move more westerly by around mid-morning before becoming westerly early afternoon. It will also continue to build in intensity as they near the South West Cape.
With the stronger winds they will reduce sail and be more conservative with spinnakers, some may break out their storm spinnaker, others will be reefing or reducing sail depending on where they sit in the weather system. The tactical decisions made today will affect how much silverware you are carrying away at presentation time.
Oskana continues to lead the fleet being just off Point Hibbs, 28 nautical miles ahead of Tevake 11 and 36 nautical miles ahead of fellow Tasmanian competitor Whistler. The all important handicap prize is a much more tense affair with just minutes, on corrected time between Whistler, Alien and Addiction.
Tasmanian David Aplin skipper of Whistler is known in the waters of the Derwent to be a fierce handicap competitor. His Mbd 36 rates well and is sailed by a slick crew but Justin Brennan on his Lidgard 36 has tasted handicap victory previously and is keen to back up on previous victories. Richard McGarvie skipper of Addiction is competing in his 13th Melbourne to Hobart and has never as yet stood in the top podium position. When interviewed prior to the start he was clear that this was unfinished business.
Ironically as the weather system moves to the south they will all be relying on the sea breeze to bring them home up the ever fickle Derwent River.
Oskana ETA is currently late evening tonight to early morning tomorrow.
– Jennifer McGuigan