Saturday, 26 December 2009

RSHYR: RÁN takes charge of Rolex Sydney Hobart overall lead

Niklas Zennstrom's JV72 RAN. Image copyright ROLEX/Daniel Forster.

by Di Pearson

The new British yacht RÁN has taken the overall lead of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race this afternoon, Niklas Zennstrom and his crew making an early charge on Zennstrom’s hope to win the 628 nautical mile race on handicap, adding to his overall win of the Rolex Fastnet Race in August.

The Judel/Vrolijk designed 72 footer launched only this year, has some of the world’s top sailors such as Steve Hayles, Adrian Stead and Richard Bouzaid aboard, helping to power the big grey yacht through a 20 knot southerly gusting to 25 at times on a bumpy sea.

RÁN’s early overall lead is no surprise according to Limit’s principal helmsman, Ian ‘Barney’ Walker, who has stated a couple of times this week: “RÁN is the boat to beat,” and “the forecast will suit it – it’s great in moderate upwind conditions and will probably get away from the rest of us.”

Walker said the rest of the overall contenders would get their chance when the breeze lightens on Sunday or Monday. “Hopefully RÁN won’t have taken too much out of us by then.”

Limit, owned by Alan Brierty (CYCA), is another of the favourites to take out the Tattersall’s Cup, awarded to the overall winner, particularly after winning the Rolex Trophy Rating Series last week.

Matt Allen, the Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the race organiser, is currently second placed with his Jones 70, Ichi Ban, with Geoff Boettcher’s Secret Mens Business 3.5 hanging in the top three.

ICAP Leopard was setting the pace at the front of the fleet, Mike Slade’s British 100 footer leading four-time successive line honours winner Wild Oats XI (Bob Oatley) from NSW and Alfa Romeo, Neville Crichton’s New Zealand entry. All three maxis are 100 feet long.

In other news, there has been a third retirement from the race. Roger Sayers’ Farr 37 Pippin retired off Botany Bay at approximately 4.00pm, after his high pressure diesel pump jammed. “It can’t be fixed at sea,” said the disappointed Queensland owner/skipper.

“It means we have no battery power, so can’t report in, so there is no point continuing on,” stated Sayers who also said, “we all put in so much work and to be out of the race at this early stage is a bitter disappointment.”

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

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