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Rooster 2023 - LEADERBOARD

Sydney Hobart – let the race begin

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 25 Dec 2022 20:00 PST
Start of the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race © Carlo Borlenghi / ROLEX

The PsyOps had already begun before the boats even left their pens (slips). Now we spoke about distance covered and distance to go in just who's won, and this race, much more so than others for a little while, is a drag race. Horsepower will probably prevail, notwithstanding comments made in the earlier piece.

Barring a major change, the lead boats, perhaps the first 25 to 30 craft, will travel the entire way in the one weather system, effectively, and it will be downhill all the way, except for maybe the final rights inside the River Derwent... The ultimate overall winner will most likely be one of the newer squaws stemming from the village of the TPs, with 60-somethings to mini-maxis in the fray, too.

Another term, and doesn't yachting love them, to be bandied around is VMG, or Velocity Made Good. A mathematician named Bezier sorted vectors out for us, but in an over-simplified definition, the term relates to the fastest path between two points over a curved surface. Once out the Heads today, the visual representation of this was andoo Comanche heading to sea, whereas Black Jack and Hamilton Island Wild Oats elected for a more direct, Southerly approach to getting going. The two Reichel/Pugh pencils opted for a more linear line to Hobart, which is of course shorter overall.

andoo Comanche needed to be shyer, heading more out to sea after doing her penalty turns. Skipper John Winning Jnr was heard to say, "I'm at 18 degrees of heel, so can't go any lower." This pertains to the fact that the ultra-wide vessel cannot run swiftly with too much of her hull in the water, and going way back when, Ken Read actually commented that the boat needed to be at 25 in order to be quick.

So already you see the difference in the prospective paths. andoo Comanche continued to collect the leading supermaxis, but you could not fault LawConnect for a clean exit from the Heads, especially seeing as on so many occasions there just did not seem to be water for these behemoths to travel in. Once, Black Jack even had to thread the needle between Law Connect and Hamilton Island Wild Oats (who was leading), and this would have been done at closure rate of something like 30 knots. We'll have to ask Mark Bradford later, but I am tipping that would be a sphincter clenching moment.

Indeed ducks were a bit of a favourite for all, like time spent at your local pond with a bag of breadcrumbs. James Spithill called the Eastern side early, and he was correct. Of course there's a bit of talent there to be able to make the statement. Oats cleared the Harbour Mark in about 12 minutes, and once the big guns could ease they were off. It was about then that you could see LawConnect was going to be the one to take them out to sea, and being the first to go double header was yet another indication.

Red flags flew; turns were made (even if somewhat begrudgingly by some, but cool heads won the day, and even language was curtailed for the most part, but I am not sure how many truck stops there are off Bondi Beach?) It will remain if any of the other infringements are to be upheld, but you felt like there was no room for a lot of boats, much like the congestion at your local fish market on Christmas Eve.

As the leaders smash down the coast at over 20 knots with triple head configurations flying, there is a chance the leaders will have some holes in the fresh Nor'easters that got them to Green Cape and then begin the leap over to Tasmania, and it may go more Nor'nor'west as Tuesday unfolds. The upshot is that it could mean the River Derwent does not close for the night, as it is normal desire, and stiff headwinds could see them make their approach in darkness.

Will it be enough for someone or maybe all four to get there under the record? Anything is possible, but after about 1015 Tuesday night it will not matter. You would think the hay making period is this afternoon and into Tuesday morning's Dog Watch. Do well there and there should be enough squirt to drag you down the Tasmanian coast at a decent enough crack.

As if a race has never been won at nighttime before. Yeah. Right...

Before we go, and in sad news for James Murchison and James Francis sailing two-handed on Avalanche, the Hick 40 hull under a Farr 40 deck. Barely two hours in and they have retired with a broken prodder. Maybe have another read of just who's won if you have not done so already...

Room time.

Official edict on certain flags - 'Just in Andoo Comanche confirms they are flying protest flag, will not say why. Said they did not do penalty turns because they hit mark, but because of a possible Protest against them. Said would not discuss, would be handled in Hobart.' Me thinks that will be the infringement when they were strapped up against boats with no room.

Stay safe, thanks for tuning into, and all the best for 2023.

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