now it gets interesting

Photo: Rolex/Francolini

All the big boats – none of whom had much chance of a win on IRC or ORCi – have finished. So everyone is now obsessively firing up their laptops or phones to check the progressive handicap standings. 

With so many yachts at sea (around 60 entrants still have more than 200 miles to sail) the minute-by-minute predictions generated by the race computer provide a roller-coaster ride of fluctuating fortunes.

What seems clear, though, is that barring a dramatic late development in conditions the TP52s will again dominate the podium. Six of the top 10 current places in the IRC standings are filled by TPs. 

Their downwind performance has been remarkable with the best often matching the speeds of boats more than 10 feet longer, and sometimes passing them.

Caro was the first of the group to finish, with an elapsed time of 1:29:49 followed by the US entrant Warrior Won, then Gweilo and Celestial. But, at least for the moment, the ‘clubhouse leader’ and likely overall winner looks to be Celestial (above). 

As previously outlined (SA Syd-Hob Update #1) racing is now so close between the top TPs that final results can be as much a reflection of ratings tweaks as sailing skill. There are already some reported dockside rumblings that the IRC handicap number for at least one boat might have enjoyed a beneficial revision just days before the Boxing Day start. 

(Aficionados of these arcane aspects of offshore racing will remember that Celestial was also the provisional winner of last year’s Sydney-Hobart before a protest by the Race Committee for not monitoring the VHF safety channel resulted in a time penalty that bumped her into second place behind Ichi Ban.)

Meanwhile, among the smaller boats, perennial challengers Midnight Rambler and the S&S34 White Bay Azzurro are making their customary mid-race climb up the standings. They may well figure in the trophy placings if the fresh NE breeze holds for the next 30 hours. 

But unlikely to make the podium is Currawong, the 1974 30-footer being sailed by two ladies of ‘a certain age’. They pulled in for some rest & recuperation at Eden (a safe port on the New South Wales south coast) and still have around 400 miles to sail.  Results here.

 – anarchist David