The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 could be very well owned by Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI, which is so far separating itself from the rest of the pack and inching closer towards pulling off another treble.
Wild Oats XI at Sunset
Wild Oats XI is chasing its own race record, with a chance of repeating its 2005 treble, as it leads the fleet of 76 yachts into Bass Strait on day two of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
In second place, Ragamuffin-Loyal is doing everything it can to close the 20 nautical mile gap on the race leader.
The crew has reported that skipper Syd Fischer, 85, has been up on deck 'cracking the whip', in a bid to defend the boat's line honours title, having beaten Wild Oats XI by three minutes and eight seconds in 2011.
Despite both suffering superficial damage overnight, the duelling super-maxis are powering at speeds of more than 20 knots in freshening 25 knots north-northeast winds.
Wild Oats XI hit an unknown object overnight and damaged one of its daggerboards beneath the hull. The crew was quick to exact repairs and return to pace under the power of their biggest sail, the size of two tennis courts.
At 1115 AEDT the crew was on track repeat Wild Oats’ 2005 performance, taking line honours, winning the race overall on IRC handicap and setting a race record.
It was tougher on board Ragamuffin-Loyal. A headsail fitting broke then they damaged the furling system, in what navigator Andrew Cape described as a 'mongrel moment.'
Cape said the crew couldn’t see Wild Oats XI, but were doing everything they could to make the most of the freshening north-northeast winds to close the gap.
'The faster you go now, the less southerly you have,’’ Cape said. 'It’s crucial; every mile you get is another mile later that you won’t have to beat in to.
'We can’t see (Oats). We’d like to see them, we’d like to be in front of them. But we’re not. So we’ll just have to keep going.'
Cape reckons the northerly winds should stay in until at least 2200hrs tonight, giving the frontrunners a solid 12 hours of speed.
Lahana is third on the course, followed by Black Jack, Loki and Living Doll.
On IRC, Wild Oats XI leads Ragamuffin-Loyal, followed by Black Jack, Lahana and Loki.
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012