In the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, it’s happening again – Anthony Bell and his Perpetual Loyal crew are making the running difficult for treble crown holder Wild Oats XI in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, late last night overtaking their foe for a 10 nautical mile lead this morning and were sailing almost abeam of Eden.
Perpetual Loyal navigator Stan Honey reported at 0500hrs AEDT this morning: 'We’re in nine knots running downwind on port tack. Last night we were further out to sea and that seems to have paid off.'
Asked were Bell and his crew surprised to be doing so well in conditions that don’t suit the purported fastest super maxi in the world, Honey said: 'We’re pleased to still be in the hunt, as light air is not our strong point and it’s been light all night.'
Bell has both advantages and disadvantages aboard the former Speedboat. The yacht only arrived from New Zealand after receiving modifications and having its keel strengthened, but it is known to be fast. The Sydney based chartered accountant is also carrying some celebrity crew, including celebrated Bennelong chef, Guillaume Brahimi, who is not noted for his sailing ability.
Aboard Wild Oats XI, navigator Tom Addis explained their falling behind 'It was a messy night, lots of storms off the coast and we got tangled in the tail end and lost ground on (Perpetual) Loyal and Giacomo – so we’ve got a bit of catching up to do- but we’re pulling back Giacomo now,' he said off Jim Delegat’s VOR 70 from New Zealand, which is close by and continues to lead the race overall.
Addis said the maximum breeze they encountered overnight was 15 knots and that they could not be worried about the six boats that have been hanging onto their coat tails since the start of the race yesterday.
'They could be in a different breeze to us, but it was easier to manage one challenger last year than the six this time. You have to be very disciplined and sail your own race; you can’t afford to get caught up in what the others are doing.'
Addis said today would be just as tough. 'There’ll be quite a few decisions to make and quite a few sail changes to make – a few gybes coming up,' he said. 'Bass Strait will be a landmine paddock with light air,' added Addis who said Wild Oats XI was running in light air from 030 (just to the east of north).
Overall, Giacomo continues her good run of yesterday to lead Perpetual Loyal and CV10, the Clipper 68 from the UK with the wily Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail non-stop single handed around the world, navigating. Victoire, the canting keeled Cookson 50 recently purchased by Darryl Hodgkinson, is in fourth place.
The bulk of the 92-boat fleet in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 628 nautical mile race is sailing between Ulladulla and Nowra on the NSW coast. The last boat on line is Black Adder, James Clayton’s Sigma 41 all the way from Fremantle in Western Australia.