If consistency is anything to go by then the omens from the start of this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Race are good for Wild Oats XI; the silver speed machine was first to the seaward mark for the third year in a row.
Wild Oats XI led the fleet from the start in a light nor’easter holding the western shore before finally tacking away from the spectator fleet and crossing well ahead of City Index Leopard.
Both boats ran parallel past the Sow and Pigs with Wild Oats well to weather and holding on to starboard tack beyond the inner harbour mark in order to lay the seaward mark.
Wild Oats led Leopard past the seaward mark hoisting a Code Zero from the mid bowsprit. Leopard followed shortly after hoisting a large asymmetric.
Skandia was third to the mark and seemed to wallow in a lull before getting into new breeze and chasing the leaders.
Rosebud was fourth to the seaward mark and hoisted a reaching headsail that looked something like a cross between a jib top and a small asymmetric.
Of the yachts that followed near the front of the fleet Wot Yot in fifth and Shogun mixing it with the fifty footers looked in good shape.
The breeze has been building as the afternoon progresses and is presently blowing at 15-18 knots off Sydney giving ideal conditions for the fleet as it heads down the coast.
At 5pm the order at the front of the fleet was WildOats XI leading Skandia, from Leopard, Ichi Ban and Rosebud.
Crosbie Lorimer was on the harbour and at the seaward mark capturing the action. More pictures of the remainder of the fleet will follow shortly.