by Bernie Kaaks
Visit Indonesia Fremantle to Bali 2011 - After two days of battling extremely light weather conditions, Limit finally found some breeze late this afternoon and is now closing on the Bali finish line at a healthy 12 knots. If she is able to maintain that speed, she will finish by nightfall tomorrow and will achieve her main goal in this race – breaking the 30 year old race record set by Siska IV in the inaugural 1981 race.
Limit - Visit Indonesia Fremantle to Bali 2011
Limit squeezed past the Rally fleet leader Slipstream at around 5pm today to become the overall leader, despite starting three days after the rally fleet.
Our so-called 'group of four' is a group no longer. Australian Maid has been the dominant performer in the group over the past 24 hours, to establish a slender one mile lead over Sue Sea, leaving Audeamus 25 miles behind them and Garth Curran’s Walk on the Wild Side another six miles behind Audeamus. All these yachts are in the same belt of light air that slowed Limit to a crawl yesterday and this evening are struggling along at 3 knots or less.
On IRC handicap, the smallest yacht in the racing fleet now heads the leaderboard. Derek Baxter’s Farr 37 Phoenix is enjoying good winds still, while the bigger boats ahead have struggled through light airs. The next 24 hours will be crucial to Phoenix’s chances, for if she is able to maintain reasonable wind she will be in an excellent position to consolidate her position. If however she experiences the same belt of calm weather that other yachts have had to negotiate, then her chances may evaporate.
Most of the rally fleet is making steady progress and scattered over a distance more than 300 nautical miles, with the leaders now less than 400 miles from the finish and the tailenders about 250 miles north of Exmouth, excepting for Bird of the Morning and the catamaran Ice Cube, both following the coast between Carnarvon and Exmouth.
Trade Winds V is next after the leading pair, but about 75 miles behind, with a further 60 mile gap to Sandale. Miss Saigon and Sovereign are next, and the remainder of the rally fleet stretches a long way back behind them.
Tactics in the closing stages of the race will be crucial. Not only will yachts need to watch the weather to ensure they keep their craft in good pressure, but they will need to balance that against the influence of the notoriously strong tides in the region.
Visit Indonesia Fremantle to Bali 2011