The 10-year-old super maxi Wild Oats XI had a good run during the second night of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and now looks to have the defence of her line honours title in hand. Shortly after 7am on Sunday morning she was 36nm SE of Cape Sonnerat (just south of Maria Island) and had less than 90nm to the finish. She was sailing at 16.5 knots in a strong north-westerly breeze.
The light overnight running conditions had seen Oats put extra distance into her main rival, the brand new 100 footer from the USA, Comanche, which was nearly 40nm astern at one stage. However as the breeze has built, Comanche has picked up her skirts and is flying south with 23 knots of boat speed and has already made up 10 of those miles.
The race could be decided when both boats turn the corner into the Derwent River and face an upwind beat to the finish line. It promises to be an exciting day for spectators as the lead narrows. Based on current projections, the first boats should arrive in Hobart early in the afternoon today but with the forecast for light winds, their arrival could be delayed.
The northerlies have brought the back of the fleet back into contention for handicap honours and at 7am the leaderboard was stacked with boats from Divisions 3 and 4. Roger Hickman's veteran Wild Rose led the standings from Anthony Williams Martela and Shane Kearns Quickpoint Azurro. These are the same three yachts that led early in the race, showing that they are being very well-sailed against rivals of similar speed.
According to the CYCA's latest release, A Cunning Plan and Chancellor are still racing to Hobart but failed to radio in before passing Green Cape and entering Bass Strait, in accordance with the rules of the race. Their fate will be decided by the Race Committee.
– Roger McMillan, Editor.