by Tony Evans
Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race 2013. Competitors continue to struggle in the light and tricky conditions. As of this morning’s scheduled radio contact, the maxi Southern Excellence II had passed the halfway mark and now has its sights set on a Tuesday pm finish at the Island.
Hempel Gosford-Lord Howe Island Yacht Race 2013 - Ocean Affinity approaches the halfway point
However, frustration and the reality of missing flights home appear to have got the better of the crew aboard the Jutson 39 Sweethart, as skipper Laurence Pidgeon advised that they are heading back to the mainland.
Like many, Sweethart headed south in search of a southerly airstream, but unfortunately they were unable to make enough east to pick up their breeze.
Stewart Lewis from Ocean Affinity has provided this report from the southern Tasman Sea.
' The breeze is holding out a little better than anticipated on Ocean Affinity on the way to Lord Howe (touch Wood).
We had anticipated around three knots of wind all day today - so far we have been becalmed for around two hours overnight, around three knots of wind for a few hours this morning and now have around five – eight knots from the south south east.
Wind is dominated by local clouds - gradient wind is almost nil.
The attached Photo tells the story - flat sea, light wind - Alegria is three miles ahead slightly to starboard - Exile slightly north and three miles behind - both in sight.
Southern Excellence and Frantic seem to have picked up a bit of pressure about 30 miles to the south of us - they overtook us in the last hour as expected.
Balance seems to have taken a very northern route - whilst Zoe and Wild Rose are mid way north - south - a very spread out fleet.
The latest forecast for Monday looks good with a light south easter forecast - suggesting a midday Tuesday finish for Affinity - however as the wind has not yet been what has been in any of the forecasts we are not booking our flights just yet.'
With several of the larger boats now in the breeze and humming along at seven-plus knots, race organisers anticipate a faster second half for the race.
In the race for line honours, Southern Excellence II leads from Alegria and Frantic.
The Yellowbrick leaderboard shows Rod Jones' Alegria V leading all three handicap divisions with AFR Midnight Rambler second in both ORCi and the premier IRC division.
Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race 2013