As the 2014 Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race enters its second day, seven-times line honours champion Wild Oats XI has shown she will not give up her title without a fight.
After following close on the transom of Comanche since the start, Wild Oats made her move at around 9am this morning. As light airs slowed the rest of the fleet to almost a complete stop, Oats found a little bit of breeze to her liking off Green Cape and has moved to a 3.5nm lead over the brand-new American super-maxi.
The pair has put a huge gap on the chasers with Syd Fischer's new Ragamuffin now nearly 50nm off the pace. After the retirement of Perpetual Loyal which had a collision with a UFO (unidentified floating object) overnight, the other American super-maxi, Rio 100, has moved into fourth ahead of the RP66 Alive from Tasmania.
With fluky winds topping out at around 6 knots for most of the morning, the big boats have also moved up the handicap rankings. Colin Woods' Cookson 50 Pretty Fly III was in front on IRC at 1pm Saturday, Sam Haynes' ADA Celestial is second and Mark and Louis Rykemans' PMA Yeah Baby is third. Showing how the wind shift has affected standings, Wild Oats has now moved into the top 10.
The first of the small boats, Anthony Williams IMX 38 Martela is 15th. Ausreo and Wild Rose, which were camped at the top of the table overnight, have fallen to 41st and 42nd respectively. However, the wind is scheduled to play many more tricks in the next 24 hours so rankings will change dramatically by the hour.
To emphasise how slow this race is becoming, Wild Oats XI is now 100nm behind her record-breaking run in 2012. At the same stage in that race she was doing 23 knots. At 1pm she was struggling to reach 10 knots.
– Roger McMillan, Editor