by Greg Peart and Lisa Ratcliff
Sean Langman’s 100 footer Investec LOYAL, with its team of champion sportsmen aboard, is closing in on Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban and this year’s overall winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race, Niklas Zennstrom’s RÂN, halving the distance every hour according to navigator David Dickson.
Investec LOYAL is current sitting sixth in the Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet as they pass Gabo Island on the Victorian coast and enter eastern Bass Strait.
“We have a much more favourable land breeze off Green Cape and the yacht is relishing the 17 knot north easterly winds,” said Dickson this afternoon.
According to Dickson, this is in direct contrast to last night which involved many sail changes in strong winds and wet conditions. “We had a few gear failures and blew out our Code zero spinnaker, but all crew, including the celebrities, worked their butts off right through the night. Sick or not they have done extremely well.”
World boxing champion Danny Green found the first night surprisingly tough. “In the ring I know what I am getting myself in for; I can control what I do. But out here I’m at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Green said whilst enjoying a brief stint in the sunshine.
“The first part of the race was unbelievably exciting, but last night the strong winds and pouring rain were a little frightening. It was pitch black and I was thinking I was going into the drink! It was fairly confronting for me.”
After an early bout of sea sickness following the 1pm start yesterday afternoon, Green’s stomach has adjusted well to the motion of the boat and he’s in high spirits.
The experience is also in contrast to Green’s occupation, operating solo as a world boxing champion. “There has been such great camaraderie among all the crew and a feeling of teamwork that I am not used to … and I love it,” he added.
On race leader Alfa Romeo, Murray Spence reported mid afternoon, "Light and fluky this morning. In a light nor'easter 5-6 knots in the last 1/2 hour. There is a lot of road ahead and this is not a straight forward race. It's consistent now, early on it was quite fluky and we are now enjoying the sunshine - not the usual way to cross Bass Strait.
“We expected Bass Strait to be this way once the tropical cyclone moved out to sea. Crew keen to get rest but are driving the boat hard. We were reefing most of the night - intense work from all onboard."
At 1645hrs this afternoon Alfa Romeo had hooked into a nor’easter, suddenly picking up speed to now be 15 nautical miles ahead of Mike Slade’s UK 100 footer ICAP Leopard and well into eastern Bass Strait.
On the JV72 RAN, tactician Adrian Stead reported at 1440hrs, “Just past Green Cape and breeze filling back in. Have done OK with Nemo’s current (East Australian Current) but had a light morning. Nice to still see maxis but conscious of boats behind using the sea breeze this afternoon. Ichi Ban has done well to the east and our target in front, and Wild Oats XI in view.”
There has been a further retirement this afternoon, Ray Sweeney’s Queensland Sydney 38 Mondo. This brings the total number of retirements to five leaving a fleet of 95 still racing south.
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race