by Rob Kothe
Wild Oats and City Index Leopard duelling up Sydney Harbour in the 2007 Rolex Sydny to Hobart
Bob Oatley’s Wild Oat XI is cruising towards a third line honours win in the Rolex Sydney Hobart. She rounded Tasman Light 40 minutes ago and barring a heart stopping becalming she is likely to take line honours and rewrite Rolex Sydney Hobart history as only the second yacht in 63 years to win line honours in three consecutive years. Claude Plowman's Morna achieved this in 1946-48.
Mike Slade's City Index Leopard is now nine miles behind her, and has been sailing at twice the leaders speed, however the Oats XI is now back up to speed at 14 knots and holding her lead. Third placed Ichi Ban, Mike Allen, is a further 100 miles back.
Those two big boats and Grant Wharington’s Skandia had carried the northerly down the Tasmanian east coast overnight which has put them in contention for the overall winner's trophy, the Tattersall's Cup.
However at 2:30am Skandia broached in 30 knot seas, doing 25 knots and broke the top four metres off her mast. She is now under storm sail and a number four headsail sailing towards Hobart at 10 knots.
Wild Oats XI was due to finish around 8:30am however the breeze is dropping rapidly. Her current speed is only seven knots and her progress for the next 39 miles across Storm and up the Derwent River could be painfully slow, at least in super maxi terms.
Overall on handicap, places are changing rapidly as the wind drops over the final miles. Rosebud, Roger Sturgeon of the USA, has just taken the overall IRC lead ahead of Ichi Ban, Matt Allen, with City Index Leopard in third and then Wild Oats XI, skippered by Mark Richards, fourth.