New Zealand supermaxi, Alfa Romeo (Neville Crichton) is leading the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race by over a mile at the latest schedule five hours into the 605 mile offshore classic.
After a sail setting error at the start, Alfa Romeo recovered well to position herself to leeward of the three leading yachts as they neared the exclusion zone, before exiting Sydney Heads.
Alfa Romeo was the first to gybe away and appeared to have sailed into a hole in the offshore breeze, however she gybed back in engage with ICAP Leopard (GBR) and Wild Oats (AUS) the Alfa Romeo had picked up better pressure, and sailed through to leeward of Wild Oats who promptly gybed, but was unable to lower her spinnaker and had a jib only half hoisted.
The error from the four times race winner was sufficient for Alfa Romeo to slide through to leeward, clear her air and round the first turning point with a clear lead.
As the yachts hardened up to head down the New South Wales coats into a 15kt breeze with passing showers, the crews settled down for a game of follow the leader.
At the latest reports Alfa Romeo and Wild Oats have sailed well east of the rhumb line with ICAP Leopard inshore.
Update Later updates showed Alfa Romeo retaining her lead, by just over half a mile from ICAP Leopard, with Alfa Romeo moving to be ther most inshore of this group. Race projections by Sail-World using PredictWind?nid=64781 and Expredition?nid=64781 routing software show the lead yacht may not reach Hobart until the early morning of 29 December 2009.
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2009 LINE HONOURS As at racetime 00:05:10 - 26 December 2009, 6:10pm