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Sydney–Hobart Fleet Leaders Reach Halfway Stage

27th December 2014
Sydney–Hobart Fleet Leaders Reach Halfway Stage

#rshyr – The chase for line honours at the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is intensifying with the leading boats approaching the halfway mark of the 628-nm Australian offshore race.  In the IRC handicap race, the part Irish–crewed Breakthrough Beneteau 40 is currently third lying overall.

The Barry Hurley led team is the best placed boat of Irish interest. Pam Lee from Greystones on Balcksheep is 16th and Dublin sailor Keith Hegarty on Merlin is 41st. Howth's Gordon Maguire on Ichi Ban is 61st. See overall handicap leaderboad here

At 16:00 local time and 27 hours into the race, the Mark Richards-skippered Wild Oats XI lay 13 nautical miles ahead of Comanche - the American Maxi which had led the race for 22 hours following a blistering exit out of Sydney Harbour. Wild Oats XI is chasing an unprecedented eighth line honours victory, Comanche hoping to triumph in her first offshore race.

"Last night we had some big seas, so it was fairly sloppy on a wide boat like this. It was a bit of a challenge," reported Comanche navigator Stan Honey, line honours winner on Investec Loyal in 2011. "The real challenge will come later tonight and early tomorrow morning when it gets light off the southeast corner of Tasmania." Indications suggest that the 2014 race will be go down to wire, won or lost in the Derwent River.

Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin 100 currently lies sixth on the water, a significant 50-nm behind the leading two boats, although sailing master David Witt was confident of narrowing that gap. Ragamuffin has chosen a different route, closer to the rhumb line. "The two leaders are going to stay together. I think we are going to meet them at the Tasman lighthouse. It's going to be light, so it's going to suit both Wild Oats XI and ourselves."

117 yachts started the race, eight have retired - the most high profile remains Anthony Bell's 100-ft Maxi Perpetual Loyal, forced to abandon the race with hull damage sustained during the first evening. It represented a huge blow for Bell who won line honours with Investec Loyal, his previous boat, in 2011. Other retirements include Brindabella, Last Tango and Triton.

While the leading Maxis are forecasting arrival in Hobart during the afternoon tomorrow, beating the race record of 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds set by Wild Oats XI in 2012 is likely to remain an illusion.

For the 109 yachts still at sea, a testing measure of endurance sailing awaits. Race tracker HERE

Published in Sydney to Hobart
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The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is an annual offshore yacht racing event with an increasingly international exposure attracting super maxi yachts and entries from around tne world. It is hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, New South Wales on Boxing Day and finishing in Hobart, Tasmania. The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km).

The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - FAQs

The number of Sydney Hobart Yacht Races held by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia since 1945 is 75

6,257 completed the Sydney Hobart Yacht race, 1036 retired or were disqualified)

About 60,061 sailors have competed in the Sydney Hobart Race between 1945 and 2019

Largest fleets: 371 starters in the 50th race in 1994 (309 finished); 154 starters in 1987 (146 finished); 179 starters in 1985 (145 finished); 151 starters in 1984 (46 finished); 173 started in 1983 (128 finished); 159 started in 1981 (143 finished); 147 started in 1979 (142 finished); 157 started in 2019 (154 finished)

116 in 2004 (59 finished); 117 in 2014 (103 finished); 157 in 2019 (154 finished)

Nine starters in the inaugural Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 1945

In 2015 and 2017 there were 27, including the 12 Clipper yachts (11 in 2017). In the record entry of 371 yachts in the 50th in 1994, there were 24 internationals

Rani, Captain John Illingworth RN (UK). Design: Barber 35’ cutter. Line and handicap winner

157 starters, 154 finishers (3 retirements)

IRC Overall: Ichi Ban, a TP52 owned by Matt Allen, NSW. Last year’s line honours winner: Comanche, Verdier Yacht Design and VPLP (FRA) owned by Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant, in 1 day 18 hours, 30 minutes, 24 seconds. Just 1hour 58min 32secs separated the five super maxis at the finish 

1 day 9 hours 15 minutes and 24 seconds, set in 2017 by LDV Comanche after Wild Oats XI was penalised one hour in port/starboard incident for a finish time of 1d 9h 48m 50s

The oldest ever sailor was Syd Fischer (88 years, 2015).

As a baby, Raud O'Brien did his first of some six Sydney Hobarts on his parent's Wraith of Odin (sic). As a veteran at three, Raud broke his arm when he fell off the companionway steps whilst feeding biscuits to the crew on watch Sophie Tasker sailed the 1978 race as a four-year-old on her father’s yacht Siska, which was not an official starter due to not meeting requirements of the CYCA. Sophie raced to Hobart in 1979, 1982 and 1983.

Quite a number of teenage boys and girls have sailed with their fathers and mothers, including Tasmanian Ken Gourlay’s 14-year-old son who sailed on Kismet in 1957. A 12-year-old boy, Travis Foley, sailed in the fatal 1998 race aboard Aspect Computing, which won PHS overall.

In 1978, the Brooker family sailed aboard their yacht Touchwood – parents Doug and Val and their children, Peter (13), Jacqueline (10), Kathryne (8) and Donald (6). Since 1999, the CYCA has set an age limit of 18 for competitors

Jane (‘Jenny’) Tate, from Hobart, sailed with her husband Horrie aboard Active in the 1946 Race, as did Dagmar O’Brien with her husband, Dr Brian (‘Mick’) O’Brien aboard Connella. Unfortunately, Connella was forced to retire in Bass Strait, but Active made it to the finish. The Jane Tate Memorial Trophy is presented each year to the first female skipper to finish the race

In 2019, Bill Barry-Cotter brought Katwinchar, built in 1904, back to the start line. She had competed with a previous owner in 1951. It is believed she is the oldest yacht to compete. According to CYCA life member and historian Alan Campbell, more than 31 yachts built before 1938 have competed in the race, including line honours winners Morna/Kurrewa IV (the same boat, renamed) and Astor, which were built in the 1920s.

Bruce Farr/Farr Yacht Design (NZL/USA) – can claim 20 overall wins from 1976 (with Piccolo) up to and including 2015 (with Balance)

Screw Loose (1979) – LOA 9.2m (30ft); Zeus II (1981) LOA 9.2m

TKlinger, NSW (1978) – LOA 8.23m (27ft)

Wild Oats XI (2012) – LOA 30.48m (100ft). Wild Oats XI had previously held the record in 2005 when she was 30m (98ft)

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