The old shellbacks who’ve been yearning for a ‘real’ Hobart certainly got their wish.
As dawn breaks after a long, hard night slogging into steep seas and Southerly wind up to 30 knots around 20 yachts – more than a fifth of the fleet – have already quit.
Among those early withdrawals was Eora (pictured here), the newly-imported Lombard Class 40 that had been leading the two-handed division by an impressive margin. Her backstay failed.
But the most common cause of retirement was mainsail damage. It seems that some of the stiff, hi-tech carbon sails have struggled to cope with the shock loads of constant heavy pounding at sea.
Three of the fancied TP52s are among those already returning to Sydney.
Up front, Black Jack is marginally ahead having opted for an inshore track tacking down the rhumbline. Scallywag is almost abeam but further out to sea, possibly banking on assistance from the South-running current. The position of early line-honours leader Law Connect is estimated to be further back but they failed to report their lat/long at the last radio sked.
The tough conditions have forced the larger boats to reduce speed. It is still very early in the 628nm-mile race but those conditions have now given some of the well-sailed smaller veteran yachts an advantage on handicap.
Current leader on both IRC and ORCi is the 2005 DK46 Khaleesi.
– anarchist David