by Bernie Kaaks
The first seven rally yachts were all in the vicinity of North West Cape this afternoon and making good progress while two tailenders languished in Geraldton’s Batavia Marina. Slipstream has passed the half way mark of the journey and is currently 40 nautical miles ahead of the ketch Trade Winds V. Both are bowling along comfortably at around eight knots.
Audeamus is the unofficial IRC leader near the halfway mark. - Visit Indonesia Fremantle Bali 2011
Another 40 miles back is a group which includes Sandale, Miss Saigon, Farr Lap of Sydney, Sovereign 1 and Knot Dreaming in that order. Glasshopper, Comet and Scaramouche are continuing to enjoy each other’s company, having left Carnarvon this morning.
Racing leader Limit seems to be overcoming the disappointment of yesterday’s enforced stop in Geraldton to drop off her injured crewman Darryl Harris. It speaks volumes for the team harmony though, that owner Alan Brierty came on the radio after last night’s position report and asked for an update on Darryl’s condition because they were all worried about him! Limit passed Comet and Scaramouche this afternoon, but so far to seaward of them that they probably did not see the yacht as it flew past at double their speed. After the evening position report, the big yachts was storming northward at an average speed of over 16 knots in south easterly winds of 20 to 25 knots.
The 'group of four' following Limit has been swapping places constantly, with Australian Maid dropping off the pace for a short time during this afternoon, but now right back on the heels of Audeamus, with Walk on the Wild Side and Sue Sea out to seaward of them. This tussle look likes continuing all the way to Bali. Sue Sea’s navigator Mike Giles said before the race that their primary aim was to get to Bali ahead of Audeamus, who has made it quite clear that she’s not going to make it easy for them.
On IRC handicap, the betting is on Audeamus, Australian Maid and Phoenix at this point, but a great deal will now depend on the weather conditions encountered as yachts leave the Australian mainland, and whether Limit can continue to overcome the time she lost yesterday. If current wind strengths hold, then Siska’s record remains firmly in Limit’s sights, even allowing for her unscheduled stopover in Geraldton. The rules allow for a landfall under such conditions, but do not credit the yacht with a 'time out' allowance.
Libertine, keeping company with Phoenix and passing by the Zuytdorp Cliffs, seems to have overcome its earlier problems is now travelling well. There were unconfirmed reports that the yacht suffered sail damage.
The catamaran Ice Cube has finally been able to correct a persistent problem with her self steering and headed out to sea before nightfall, followed by the little S&S34 Bird of the Morning which stopped to rectify a minor mechanical problem .