Records are set to be broken at the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. The frontrunners, having negotiated the infamous Bass Strait, are making rapid progress down the east coast of Tasmania on route to the finish in Hobart.
At 15:30 local time and some 26 and a half hours into the race, Anthony Bell’s Perpetual LOYAL led the fleet sailing well within the current race record time of 1 day, 18 hours and 23 minutes. She was 170-nm from the finish and travelling at a consistent 20 knots. The current holder of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race record and perennial line honours favourite Wild Oats XI was forced to retire from the race this morning after sustaining keel damage on the approach to the north-east coast of Flinders Island in eastern Bass Strait.
Bell is now on target to claim a second line honours success having triumphed with a previous version of LOYAL in 2011. Perpetual LOYAL, and her closest pursuers, are on course to arrive significantly within the race record time, possibly by as much as seven hours.
Second on the water and 18-nm behind the leader was Jim Delegat’s New Zealand entry Giacomo, seeking to become the first non 100-ft yacht to claim line honours since 2004. Another 70-ft yacht - Maserati - lay in third place, 10-nm astern. On corrected time, Giacomo is currently leading the fleet in the quest for the race’s most coveted prize, overall victory on handicap. Further twists and turns are expected in the coming hours.
In addition to Wild Oats XI, three yachts – Dare Devil, Freyja and Patrice – have retired from the race. 84 yachts are still sailing.