Rolex Sydney Hobart: Operation Close the Gap - the lead changes

Wild Oats XI, playing catchup heads south to Hobart - Day 2 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race
Last night Bob Oatley's Wild Oats XI, the six times line honours race winner was 14 nautical miles behind Anthony Bell's Perpetual Loyal but today little by little she clawed back the deficit as the pair broke away from the pack to lead the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet into Bass Strait.

Sailing in a light and variable north-easterly, fifty seven nautical miles south of Gabo Island, at 1340 local time Wild Oats XI, regained the race lead. The Wild Oats XI crew tweeted ‘Have completed Operation Close the Gap’

Since regaining the lead Wild Oats XI has sailed another 27 nautical miles and extended her lead by six miles nautical miles in the soft conditions.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Andrew Treloar says the front-runners will continue to suffer light conditions today, but they do have a choice in an east meets west Bass Strait twist.

'They’ve had to use a lot of tactics to get through these conditions,’’ he said.

'Now they’re moving through a weak trough system and out to the eastern side of the trough there’s a north-easterly breeze. Out to the western-side they can pick up a south-westerly breeze.

'The boats now have to decide whether they can get better speed out of the eastern or western side of that trough.'

To show the contrast between Wild Oats race record 2012 run, at this same stage of the race she was abeam St. Helens, almost 120 nm closer to Hobart doing 24 knots.

About 1640 local time Loyal gybed further seawards looking for more pressure and 15 minutes later Wild Oats XI covered her rival and is also now heading south east.



Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100, is now in third place, some 10 miles behind Loyal.

The big mover today has been Grant Wharington's Hart 100 Wild Thing. The most easterly boat, in the fleet, she has been sailing in northerly four knots faster than the race leaders but is still 36 miles from the race leader. Close behind her is Karl Kwok’s Botin 80 Beau Geste.

Suffering are the two Volvo 70's Jim Delegat's Giacomo (previously Groupama) and Peter Harburg's Black Jack (the former Telefonica) both these boats are in light and variable conditions doing respectively 4 and 2.7 knots.

Thirty miles in arrears is Matt Allen's brand new Carkeek 60 Ichi ban

Navigator Will Oxley said the recently launched 60-footer is getting back on track after an unplanned hold-up.

'Just hanging on the coattails of some of the big boats,’’ he said.

'Looks like a tricky day ahead and we are hoping to hold onto favourable north-east wind as long as possible.

'All going to game plan except for thunderstorms inshore last night which slowed the fleet a bit.'



In 10th place on the water, Bill Wild’s Reichel Pugh 55 Wedgetail is 20 nautical miles behind Ichi Ban near Green Cape

Wedgetail navigator Adrienne Cahalan says the smart yachts set themselves up for that decision last night.

'The wind is so light out here now that if you did not position yourself last night for today it is probably too late now,’’ she said.

'Having said that, the fleet is close together today near us and appears to be following the same strategy.

'The wind won't fill in from the north until later today for us so we are patiently waiting.'

On IRC Overall Ragamuffin 100 leads Wild oats XI with Phil Molony's Archambault 40RC Papillion now east of Montague Island third. Perpetual Loyal is fourth.

On ORCi, its Rags again ahead of Roger Hickman's Farr 43 Wild Rose and Ron Forster and Phil Damp's Beneteau First 40 Ariel.

On PHS, Peter Rodgers Olsen 40 She leads from the Corinne Feldmann and Rob Francis Murray Burns Dovell The Banshee and Murray Owen and Jenny Kings Sydney 46 Art Equity Mahligai.

Within the Clipper 70 fleet Old Pulteney is six miles ahead of Jamaica Get All Right, with Henri Lloyd another six miles back.

In the Sydney 38 fleet positions are unchanged with Gordon Ketelbey's Zen still two miles ahead of Stephane Howarth`s Mille Sabords, three miles back in third place is Glen Clinnick's Audacious.

The tail gunner in the 2013 fleet is James Clayton's Black Adder just off Jervis Bay, 223 miles behind the leader.

Black Adder’s Hobart ETA is now the morning of January 3rd 2014.
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