Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race - Here comes the winds…

Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race number 69 - Here comes the wind… It’s an hour before dawn and any thoughts of a sleepy time Derwent River are blown away. Gusts from the south west of 55 knots at Cape Bruny and on Mount Wellington. While it is still blowing from the west north west at Tasman Light with gusts at 33 knots there is more to come.

Warm and dry in Hobart are the crews from Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI, Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal and Sid Fischers Ragamuffin. Jim Delegat’s Giacoma, as we write, is duelling towards the finish with her Volvo 70 sister Black Jack. In the distance behind them is Karl Kwok’s Beau Geste and further away, a mile south of the John Garrow Shoal is Grant Warington’s Wild Thing.

Matt Allen's ICHI BAN charges down Sydney Harbour - Rolex Sydney to Hobart 2013

Mat Allen’s Ichi Ban is five nautical miles south of Iron Pot while Darryl Hodginson’s Victoire is two nautical miles south of Cape Raoul. Jens Kellinghusen’s Varuna is four nautical miles east of Cape Raoul. Just on the corner is Bill Wild’s Wedgetail but beyond that there are still 79 boats at sea. Some of them, like Jim Cooney’s Brindabella, 10 nautical miles north east of Tasman Light have been there and done that but no matter what when the south westerlies hit the fleet will slow.

The pressure will be on. Phil Simpfendorfers Elliott 44 CR Veloce, the current division two and overall Sydney to Hobart IRC handicap leader is now six nautical miles north east of Maria Island. Bruce Taylor’s Reichel Pugh 40 Chutzpah is second overall ,another four nautical miles south of Cape Sonarat, 50 nautical miles from Tasman Light.

hris Brand’s Brand New, the division three leader, 152 nautical miles from Hobart and 27 nautical miles south east of St Helens. The weather gods will have a lot to say about their final race placings.

Start - CELESTIAL, Sail No: 421, Bow No: 21, Owner: Sam Haynes, Skipper: Sam Haynes, Design: Rogers 46, LOA (m): 14.0, State: NSW

In ORCi it is a similar story for Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose, the division three leader, still 176 nautical miles from the finish and that’s a lot of waves, as Hick knows. She is leading ahead of Sam Hayne’s Rogers 46 Celestial. Much closer to the finish line off Maria. Third is Chutzpah.

In PHS Peter Roger’s She, the Olsen 31, is wearing a groove on the leader board. She is currently 53 nautical miles east of Flinders Island with still 238 nautical miles to go. She leads Corinne Fieldman’s and Rob Francis The Banshee from Murray Owen and Jenny King’s Art Equity Mahligai.

In the Clipper fleet Derry-Londonderry-Doire has stepped out. She is now 35 nautical miles south of St Helens, 13 nautical miles ahead of GREAT Britain with OneDLL an equal distance further back.

In the Sydney 38 Gordon Ketelbey’s Zen has extended her lead. She is now nine nautical miles ahead of Ray Sweeney’s Mondo, off Eddiston Light with Stephanie Howarth’s Milles Sabords now three nautical miles ahead of Tony Levetts’s TSA Management.

Meanwhile James Clayton's Black Adder is now 29 nautical miles south east of Gabow Island with an ETA of a little after 12 noon on 2nd January.

At 5am 49 knot gusts from the west south west of Tasman Light... Ouch!

The next 12 hours are likely to decide the Tattestall’s Trophy, the most prestigious yachting prize in the Southern Hemisphere. There will be stories to be told.