With all the boats from the Melbourne to Launceston race safely finished as of late last night, the focus now shifts to the last stages of the Melbourne to Hobart Eastcoaster and Westcoaster races.
Goldfinger has stretched out its lead for line honours to 90 nautical miles, as fickle winds on the east coast of Tasmania have left the next group of boats – made up of Seven50, Matrix, Dry White and Escapade – travelling at speeds below one knot. While this is frustrating for the crews trying to find some speed to propel them past Bicheno, it has allowed the rear of the fleet to close the gap.
Goldfinger is sitting to the east of Tasman Island, preparing for the turn into Storm Bay. Currently the Tasmanian weather pattern is not in their favour as Storm Bay is experiencing 20 to 25 knot westerlies which will make a record breaking run look less likely.
This same westerly weather pattern will suit the Westcoaster fleet who are reveling in 25 to 30 knots driving them towards their destination. Leading boat Extesea has just passed Low Rocky Head, approximately 20 nautical miles from Southwest Cape where they will turn inside Maatsuyker Island. The 30 knot westerlies are an ocean racing skipper’s dream – these are the moments yachties live for, and the stories that become part of their folklore. The spinnaker wardrobe will be out in readiness as they surf their way towards Bruny Island.
Unlike earlier in the race, the conditions are now conducive to this fleet with all of them able to hug the rhumb line. Former ORCV Commodore, Angus Fletcher, will be cautiously pleased with his current position on Tevake II as he closes the gap on Extasea. The double handed Cadibarra 8 is close behind as is the well performed Bandit and the downwind flyer, Spirit of Downunder.
Fletcher’s handicap position is strong and the spinnaker run across the bottom will suit Tevake II. Both Yoko and Turbulence, who yesterday went to the aid of their compatriot, Afrayed Knot, will be asking for time redress which will be decided after the fleet reaches Hobart. This could impact handicap positions.
Given that Goldfinger will be beating to cross Storm Bay, their ETA has shifted to approximately three p.m. today. The west coast fleet will enjoy reaching conditions after their spinnaker run and are now expected around six p.m. Leading positions in that fleet are still tightly contested.
Sandringham Yacht Goldfinger, skippered by Peter Blake and Kate Mitchell have rounded Tasman Island. With their compulsory radio call Goldfinger have predicted an ETA of midday today for their finish in the Melbourne to Hobart Eastcoaster race.
Storm bay and the fickle Derwent River await them but with the record beckoning they are leaving nothing to chance using precision sailing and tight crew work to battle the strong westerlies on their journey home.
A media vessel will be leaving from Elizabeth Street pier to capture their crossing of the line.
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