The 64th Sydney Hobart gets under way in perfect conditions. Johno Fullerton reports
One hundred competitors started the 64th Rolex Sydney Hobart race in clear skies and around 12 knots of breeze from the NE. Bob Oatley’s maxi Wild Oats Xl got a peach of a start at the pin end with Skandia (Grant Wharington) just inside them. Ichi Ban and ASM Shockwave started well at the committee boat end.
Wild Oats tacked onto port, clearing the whole fleet whilst Skandia was bounced back by the new RP63 Loki. Peter Harburg’s RP66 Black Jack and Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban had their own tacking dual just behind the leaders.
Doing about 12 knots Wild Oats Xl rounded the clearing mark at the heads in around 12 minutes followed by Skandia. Black Jack squeezed around the mark with Loki (Stephen Ainsworth) and Ichi Ban followed by the other brand new RP62 Limit (Alan Briety).
Once outside the heads, Wild Oats Xl hoisted her reaching R2 spinnaker and headed south with an armada of spectator boats in tow. She was followed out of the harbour by Skandia, Black Jack, Loki, Ichi Ban and the first of the TP52’s Ragamuffin (Syd Fisher). Limit and ASM Shockwave were in close pursuit with Yendy’s and Quantum Racing going well behind.
The gaff rigged Maluka of Kermandie and another wooden classic, Sanyo Marris and Top to Top, the Swiss climate expedition entry were the last to leave the harbour.
At the first schedule after three hours racing Wild Oats Xl remained on track to break their own record surfing downwind at around 20 knots with a 5nm lead from Skandia sailing a knot slower.
Mark Bradford, skipper of Black Jack reported doing around 17 knots in a steady 22 knots of breeze having just peeled to a running kite off the NSW coast.
The order after 3 hours of racing was: Wild Oats Xl; Skandia; Black Jack; Ichi Ban; Limit; Loki; ASM Shockwave 5; Yendys; Quantum Racing and Wot Now, the first of a pack of 5 TP52s.