Yesterday morning in Sydney, at least two navigator-tacticians packed that extra little bottle of rum into their gear bags to pour into the ocean in Bass Strait as a gift to the Weather Gods, who will once again decide the Rolex Sydney Hobart race winner.
We know that because we can see the Gods have left two weather windows ajar for Hobart handicap contenders.
According to meteorologist Dr. Roger Badham, Friday afternoon presents an opportunity for the 50-60 footers but Saturday afternoon looks like it could produce the Tattersall’s Cup winner.
Badham talks about today’s weather and how it has affected the fleet.
‘The change moving up the NSW coast this morning was three hours earlier than predicted, says ‘Clouds’ Badham. Otherwise it was pretty much similar to what models suggested. The super maxis were fine and they had good speed across the paddock for the first part of the day.
‘The 50-70’s Rosebud, Quantum, Yendys, Ichi Ban, and Toyota Orion V6 had enough west in the southerly breeze to keep going on starboard.
‘A lot of the smaller boats were still well offshore; they had a great time up until the change arrived. The further out they were the more cracked they could be...
‘Now for the super maxis, the breeze has softened late this afternoon, abeam of Banks Strait and it will go around, progressively round to the north.
‘Wild Oats XI will probably suffer least, for 2-3 hours, where breeze softens very late this afternoon. The wind goes left in their case from the south west, left all the way back to the north. It will be a small and fast down for the super maxi’s.
‘Further back for the 40-60 foot boats, it will be softer and over a broader area. This evening and the first half of tonight it will be tough going, but then the fleet will get good northerly breeze and plenty to enjoy.'
Badham says that while conditions across Storm Bay and into the Derwent River will be soft on Friday morning, on Friday afternoon they will be better for the STP65 Rosebud and boats down to Quantum Racing who should pick up some precious hours against the clock.
But these boats won’t really have a great ride across Storm Bay and up the Derwent because the northerlies will still be dominating.
However the battle in the 50-60 foot band is intense Quantum Racing tactician Steve McConaghy commented today. ‘We have a good feeling about conditions tomorrow, they should suit us ‘
Badham says the running conditions for the smaller boats will build from the early hours until Sat morning when the next front reaches Storm Bay.
‘The perfect ride will be on the boat that gets into Storm Bay, probably the leader of the the 35-40 group just as wind goes from northerly to southerly. The crew will be laughing because Saturday afternoon will be a whale of a time to come up the Derwent and so the boat that finishes then should be in the box seat.’
Perhaps by Saturday afternoon we will know who did most to please the Weather Gods.