Rolex Sydney Hobart: Broken rudders, torn sails, hull damage

Published on December 27th, 2014

(December 27, 2014) – With conditions easing throughout the night, the race record appeared to be getting out of reach, but the race lead was truly on between Jim Clark’s Comanche and Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI.

Chasing a record eighth line honours win, Wild Oats XI overtook the early pacesetter, Clark’s new supermaxi from the US, as they passed Gabo Island at the eastern approach to Bass Strait at about 10 am.

The other major news of the morning was the retirement of the fancied supermaxi Perpetual Loyal. She retired at about 8 am with a delaminated hull, damage that occurred at 9 pm last night when she either fell off a wave or hit something, according to crewman Tom Slingsby.

“We’re not exactly sure what happened, we were coming off some big waves, but we also could have hit something during the night when we were falling off these waves,” he said.

Loyal turned on her heel and is expected back in Sydney tomorrow morning.

The battle at the front threatens to escalate as conditions change in Bass Strait with westerlies strengthening this afternoon, suiting Comanche’s reaching abilities.

Wild Oats XI’s navigator Juan Vila said they were sailing in about six knots of breeze

That would last another three hours, through to about 1500, then build from the west, which would suit Comanche, then tonight, rough north-west or north, 20 to 25 knots.

That would suit Wild Oats, according to Vila, because of the angle, not so much because of the strength.

The two frontrunners have opened a 40-mile lead over Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 and the Queensland Volvo 70 Black Jack.

The leader on corrected time is Colin Woods’ NSW yacht, Pretty Fly III.

Broken rudders, sail and hull damage rendered in a tough opening night’s southerly have forced eight yachts to retire in less than 20 hours of racing, leaving a fleet of 109 at sea.

The retirees are:
– Tina of Melbourne (damaged hull)
– Bear Necessity (rudder damage)
– Willyama (torn mainsail)
– Last Tango (sail damage)
– Occasional Coarse Language Too (steering damage)
– Triton (forestay damage)
– Brindabella (rudder bearing damage)
– Perpetual Loyal (hull damage).

By Bruce Montgomery, RSHYR media

Event website

Background: One hundred seventeen teams have entered the 628 nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Starting on December 26, the fleet exits Sydney Harbor and heads down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait, then down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turns right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to finish in Hobart.

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