Sydney to Hobart record ruled out
A NEW race record has been ruled out as light winds slow the 75th Rolex Sydney-Hobart on Friday morning with Hong Kong-owned supermaxi Scallywag leading a tricky crawl south and a finish predicted for Saturday afternoon.
With the lack of breeze early on day two, the race's five supermaxis were joined by smaller contenders in the top 10 for line honours.
Scallywag milked a tricky patch of light air as it entered Bass Strait to snatch the lead while nine-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI dropped to 12th.
Comanche led the race all night but the downwind flyer stalled when the wind went light, allowing Scallywag to edge up to it and eventually past Jim Cooney's 2017 race record-breaker.
There will be no challenge to the record this year, says Paul Billingham, Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
"They've all gone quite a long way offshore, about 80nm out to position themselves for a north-easterly change that's coming in later on today," he said.
"When that change comes in, and how strong it is, will impact in the finishing time.
"There is going to be no race record this year.
"Whether we get a finish of early tomorrow morning is unlikely.
"I'm tipping later on tomorrow is more likely, hopefully it won't be in the evening because as we know the Derwent River shuts down in the evening and it can be very frustrating for boats sat there in the Derwent just a few miles from the finish."
Owned by Hong Kong-based Chinese financial investor Seng Huang Lee, executive chairman of Sun Hung Kai & Co, Scallywag built a four-nautical-mile lead on Comanche, while Black Jack was another 10nm back, followed by supermaxi InfoTrack, 72-footer URM, and then Chinese Whisper.
The race for the Tattersalls Cup for the win on handicap is led by Katwinchar, the oldest boat in the bumper fleet, which was built in 1904.
Skippered by Sydney's two-time handicap winner Michael Spies, Katwinchar had a comfortable lead over NSW yacht Blink, South Australian yacht Enchantress, and NSW pair Santana and King Billy.
"She's got a long way to go but Katwinchar is surprising everyone at the moment," Billingham said.
The best Tasmanian boat on handicap was ninth-placed Willie Smith's Philosopher, owned and skippered by Shaun Tiedemann, of the Derwent Sailing Squadron.
The starting fleet of 157 was reduced by two on day one, with the NSW TP52 Hollywood Boulevard out with a broken rudder and Sydney 38-design Faster Forward, of Victoria, also out with steering problems.