Aera still leads the IRC handicap standings in the 60th anniversary ocean classic - the Sydney Hobart race

As smaller boats continue to finish the gruelling 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the British yacht Aera still leads the IRC handicap standings in the 60th anniversary ocean classic. One of Aera’s primary smaller boat handicap rivals, First National Real Estate, skippered by last year’s Overall winner Michael Spies, crossed the finish line off Hobart’s Castray Esplanade at 6:11:50pm on a balmy Hobart summer evening.

However, neither First National nor the other leading 40-footers, Nips-N-Tux and Chutzpah, made a dent in Aera’s standing on the provisional IRC corrected time result.

Big boats dominate the top placings with Aera, a Ker 55 owned by Nick Lykiardopulo from Royal Yacht Squadron in England, provisionally leading the IRC standings ahead of line honours winner, Nicorette, the Simons/Voogd 90 owned by Sydney-based yachtsman Ludde Ingvall.

Aera is now provisionally the 12th overseas yacht to win Australia’s great bluewater race – appropriately a British-owned boat, Rani, won the first in 1945 and now, in the 60th race, victory appears likely to go to another UK boat in Aera, skippered by English yachtsman Jez Fanstone for its London-based owner Nick Lykiardopulo.

In provisional third place is Matt Allan’s Farr 52, Ichi Ban, the current Australian IRC champion, while fourth is AAPT, Sean Langman’s Andy Dovell-designed Open 66.

The classic 31-year-old wooden boat Love and War has no prospect of displacing Aera despite her low rating (handicap), but is ranked fifth overall in computer calculations. At 7.00pm last night she was sailing across Storm Bay, 29 nautical miles from the finish with the seabreeze in Storm Bay and the Derwent River expected to fade after sunset.

The total finishers by 7.15 pm last night stood at 20 boats with the first Tasmanian yacht, Craig King’s Interum crossing the line at 7:12:14 pm. The rest of the fleet is spread from Storm Bay to just 50 miles south of Gabo Island on the south-east tip of the Australian mainland, where the little Gillawa still has some 340 nautical miles to sail. Her ETA is 5 January 2005.