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Rolex Sydney Hobart Race – Derwent sleeping it off?

by John Curnow on 27 Dec 2016
Giacomo (NZ) closes on on the finish of the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
In the article right turn, we spoke about how anyone with an interest in ensuring Perpetual Loyal got Line Honours and also a new record in the race should go down and pour a rum into the River Derwent from Constitution Dock. Looks like they did. However, they may have poured the entire barrel in, because now the River is sleeping it off.

Now in the Volvo Ocean Race of 2011-2012, the winner was Groupama 4. She is a brilliant downwind flier. Today she is known as the giant killer, Giacomo. The Volvo Ocean 70 crossed the finish line in the 72nd running of this ocean classic at 04:27:05, breaking the old race record by more than three hours and beating the Hong Kong campaigned Scallywag, the former Ragamuffin 100, but only just.

Scallywag made up five nautical miles in the last two hours and went very close to repeating her 2015 second place, finishing a tiny two minutes and fifteen second astern at 04:29:15. As we go to press, the magical 0723hrs mark has passed, so it is only going to be these three boats that surpass the previous record.

It is painstakingly close for another Volvo 70, Jim Cooney’s, Maserati. They have sailed a great race, and with expertise like North Sails’ Australian boss, Michael Coxon on board, it is little wonder. Their crew for the race had Volvo specialists, Noel Drennan and Tom Braidwood on board, so they can be very proud of their achievement. Alas, the ‘carpark’ we mentioned in right corner got them, and all others too.

The final VO70 in the fleet, Peter Harburg’s Black Jack made up a lot of ground in the final stages after being almost the most Westerly boat when she was back up abeam the Furneaux Group. However, for both of them, when you are doing just half a knot, even 1.5nm seems like a very long way.

Karl Kwok's 80ft Beau Geste (NZL) and Ludde Ingvall’s radically revamped supermaxi, CQS, are behind them. The former just and the latter a bit further. CQS has proven to be the work in progress that Ludde spoke about pre-race in our exclusive three-part exposé on the boat.

Now, as the mainstream media’s attention on the Line Honours winner fades away, sailors can turn their attention to the real race, the IRC overall winner for that Tattersall’s Cup.

While Australian Sailing President Matt Allen’s modified TP52, the Judel/Vrolijk designed Ichi Ban is a top the computer board, she still has many miles to sail, and the conditions for speed are not getting better. Much worse. Remember, Maserati is nearly at the line making under half a knot, whilst CQS is miles away and doing 3 knots. The carpark is stacking up nicely. Don’t forget to get your valet slip now!

Punching well above her length, Giacomo is the boat to beat under the IRC rating rule. She is the Club House leader, and with softened breeze for the boats still on the racecourse, that puts her in a very strong position.

Even the exceptional Meteorologist, Roger ‘Clouds’ Badham sees it this way, commenting, “The NE breeze holds all night and all morning for Storm Bay, but the river is softer with 5-8knots, which will ease further in the early to mid morning period, and generally less breeze midday than there was at midnight, then come in for a time later from E-SE at 5-10 mid and later afternoon.”

“So probably no-one has it as good as Perpetual Loyal, and Ichi Ban will have it lighter for longer. Ichi Ban will have to be very lucky with the rain now playing with the breeze too, and lifting it away from the water.”

In summary, for Giacomo, a bird in the hand will be better than two in the bush. Ichi Ban might have a computer screen advantage now, but in the real world, Giacomo is the boat to beat. Ichi Ban has 30nm to travel and as she gets closer to the 1054hrs deadline for her, her own pace will slow to that of Maserati, who is struggling to make just the last mile. It is very sad for Allen who has campaigned so hard for so long for the overall win and dreamt of conditions that suited his GenV TP52.

The 2015 Tattersall’s Cup winner, Paul Clitheroe’s Balance, who as Quest was also the overall winner in 2008, is currently third and will no doubt suffer in the same manner as Ichi Ban. The same applies for Bin Wang’s Cookson 50 U-Box with Charles Caudrelier producing an out of the box impressive performance as their first up Hobart appearance. Bet they’ll be back. Cannot say they'll get those sort of conditions again in a hurry however!

Jens Kellinghusen’s Ker56, Varuna VI, is likely to rise up the handicap leader board as she was, at the time of writing, already in Storm Bay, before everything turned to complete custard.

A note of the ages before we go. The stunning, Fidelis, a previous winner and still holder of the record for the greatest ever winning margin has radioed in the say they have 298nm to go, and that is almost half the race distance. Well done to Nigel Stokes and the crew for continuing to campaign the marvellous objet d’art! Sign of the times indeed.

Ultimately then if you are looking for smiles yourself, then do keep a weather eye here on for all the latest intel on the great, inspiring, captivating and very historic, blue water classic… The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

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