A huge amount of spectator boats and hundreds of thousands of people packed Sydney Harbour's foreshores today to watch a classic spinnaker start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race
A huge amount of spectator boats and hundreds of thousands of people packed Sydney Harbour’s foreshores today to watch a classic spinnaker start and a straight line dash for the Heads to kick off the 2003 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
In a 12-15 knot south easterly breeze many of the 56 starting yachts popped their brightly coloured spinnakers soon after the starting cannon fired, with two notable exceptions.
After good, mistake free starts, the super maxis Skandia and Zana kept their spinnakers in their bags, both sticking with double headsail rigs as they close reached to the Rolex rounding mark at the Heads.
Within minutes the two giants had cleared away from the smaller boats, Skandia leading Zana down the harbour by two boat lengths as they headed out to sea.
It was a brilliant duel between the two 98-footers to the Heads, no more than two boat lengths between them with Skandia’s helmsman Grant Wharington getting into a controlling leebow position ahead of Stewart Thwaites’ Zana from New Zealand as they crossed right on the gun.
Close astern of them came Nicorette, followed by Grundig, which lost valuable time when her big black spinnaker caught on her spreaders as her eight man crew tried to reset their genoa for the beat out to sea.
Andrew Short Marine, Brindabella, Nokia and Seriously Ten followed Grundig to sea.
Further back in the fleet two of the favourites for handicap honours, Ichi Ban and Yendys, had their own private duel down the harbour, picking up where they had left off in the Rolex Trophy series earlier in the month.
As in that series Yendys shaded her rival, having chosen to sail forego her spinnaker for the option of pointing a shade higher than the gold Farr 52.
At sea the fleet has quickly split into two fairly even groups. With the expectation of a little extra wind offshore and a southerly current of more than one knot, much of the fleet, including the race leaders, opted for a long starboard leg out to sea in the early hours of the race.