Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI delivered to its promise of winning line honours and breaking its previous record at the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012, though there’s still a window of opportunity for few boats to spoil a treble in this year’s 628-nautical mile race classic.
Chris Bull’s Cookson 50 Jazz poses the most significant threat to Wild Oats XI repeating her 2005 triumph: the treble of race record, line honours and first overall, in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
With line honours settled all the attention now focuses on Australian yachting’s ultimate prize, the Tattersall’s Cup, awarded to the overall winner on IRC. As Wild Oats XI slipped into the Hobart marina she at last gave every other boat the precise time each had left to rob her of the treble.
For most of the fleet the news was dire. There is simply no way they can get to Hobart in time.
Just a few still had some hope: Jazz, Calm, Quest, Loki, Lahana and Black Jack. All would need the wind to freshen as the morning wore on. All would need to arrive at Tasman Island with plenty of wind and enough time to get across Storm Bay and into the Derwent River before it shut down.
As Wild Oats XI finished Jazz was leading on handicap, and was the boat most likely.
She was 168 miles from the finish, lying well offshore, south west of St Helens, and closing in on the Tasmanian coast at 8 knots. She had 16 hours to finish. She has to be across the line by 2:04 am tomorrow, more than two hours later than her then eta was predicted, with the wind forecast to freshen during the day. The snag being that the freshening wind would be on the nose the whole way. She would have to sail a lot more than 168 miles as she tacked home.
The race there for the taking, but how co-operative would the gods prove to be?
By mid-morning the wind gods appear to have been caught up along with everyone else in the euphoria of Wild Oats XI dramatic finish. The chances seem to have evaporated for all but Jazz, and she has a lot of work to do.
If anything, the breeze seems to have weakened. Her estimate time of arrival has been pushed further out with each passing hour, so that now she has very little time up her sleeve. Worse, she may well arrive at Tasman Island too late for the last of the wind.
What will happen to the breeze this afternoon? Will it arrive too late?
It is touch and go.
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 website
by Jim Gale
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2:40 AM Fri 28 Dec 2012GMT
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