As records tumble in this fastest-ever Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race with Anthony Bell’s line honours-winning hundred footer Perpetual LOYAL taking four hours and fifty-one minutes off the previous best time set by the late Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI, Matt Allen’s TP52 Ichi Ban, with Howth Yacht Club’s Gordon Maguire as sailing master, continues to head the fleet on IRC Corrected Time for the coveted Tattersall’s Cup writes W M Nixon.
But although Ichi Ban has been conspicuously out-performing every other boat of comparable size on the water, not to mention showing the way to many larger craft, when Jim Delagat’s Volvo 70 Giocomo (ex-Groupama) crossed the finish line second on the water in Hobart at 17.27hrs Irish time today, she moved into the Best Corrected Time slot and set Ichi Ban the task of sailing the final 68 miles up the increasingly flukey approaches to Hobart in six and a half hours.
As Ichi Ban was sailing at better than 16 knots when Giocomo finished, it’s all manageable. But nevertheless it will need a mountain of chips to fall the right way for Allen and Maguire to carry it off, for it should be borne in mind that Giocomo was gliding along at barely 7 knots when she finished in Hobart’s sheltered water. However, barring accidents, Ichi Ban certainly has the Class 1 win in the bag, as her nearest rival, Paul Clitheroe’s TP52 Balance (overall winner in 2015), is more than thirty miles astern.
In the midst of all this excitement, spare a though for Mark Richards and the crew of the endlessly modified hundred footer Wild Oats XI. They’d very quickly recovered from one of those starts in Sydney Harbour which any crew prefers to forget, and had a good lead on the entire fleet, well on course to knock their own record for six. But then the hydraulic ram on the canting keel failed, and they had to retire.