by Rob Kothe
Five-time Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winner Wild Oats XI has crossed Bass Strait and is ripping south towards Tasman Light, maintaining speeds of around 24 knots.
Wild Oats leaving Sydney for Hobart - Rolex Sydney to Hobart
She is currently 75 nautical miles east of Eddystone light and about 40 minutes ahead of the race record speed at the moment. To break her own race record set in 2005 of 1 day 18 hours 40 minutes 10 seconds she needs to finish by 07.40.10 tomorrow morning.
Wild Oats XI navigator Adrienne Cahalan has just reported to Sail-Worlld - 'Our top speed so far has been 28 knots. Right now the wind is still from the north at 20-25 knots, seas moderate. We are in good sailing conditions with 166 miles to Tasman Light. The passage of the front and where we meet it is critical for us and our competitors. ‘
XI, WILD OATS XI, Sail No: AUS 10001, Owner: Robart Oatley, Design: Reichel/Pugh 30 Mtr, LOA (m): 30.5, State: NSW - 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
The gap back to the rest of the fleet has extended, an hour ago she was 38 miles ahead of Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin Loyal. Now that gap has extended to 45+ and it seems very unlikely that anyone can catch her this year.
Peter Millard and John Honan's Lahana is third, another forty miles back. While Black Jack trails her by eight miles. Behind them Michael Hiatt’s Farr 55 Living Doll and Matt Allen’s Volvo 70 Ichiban are duking it out, just a mile apart..
However the Wind Gods will still play a large part in this race. The arrival of the next front will decide just how much wind Wild oats XI will have as she turns Tasman Light and heads across Storm Bay.