Matt Allen’s Botin 52 Ichi Ban, with Howth Yacht Club's Gordon Maguire very much on the strength of a crew of all the talents, is currently leading IRC overall in the 75th Rolex Sydney Hobart Race as the fleet emerges from the torrid fluctuations of a relatively windless patch off southeast Australia in the approaches to the Bass Straits.
While there is now no way any of the fleet leaders can hope to approach the record course time set by Jim Cooney & Samantha Grant’s hundred-foot Comanche in 2017, a reasonably enthusiastic northeaster is developing off the east coast of Tasmania, and as she begins to get the full benefit of it with 202 miles to the finish, Comanche is leading on the water and recording 25.6 knots.
But in the IRC handicap racing for the all-important Tattersall Cup, the consistent Matt Allen-Gordon Maguire combo on the Botin 52 Ichi Ban are currently leading. Ichi Ban led her class out of Sydney Harbour in convincing style, and in some of the flatter patches on down the coast she was at times embarrassingly close to the five hundred footers in the SuperMaxi division.
Yet even Ichi Ban had to take her punishment in getting through the flattest patches, and at one stage the computer analysis had her briefly back in 81st overall. Those fluctuating computer snapshots can be moments of torture – or wild over-encouragement - which experienced crews learn to take in their stride. But for the Sydney-Hobart virgins on Darren Wright’s First 40 HYC Breakthrough, it was real roller-coaster stuff, hero to zero and all that, as they went from being in single figures in both Division 6 and overall yesterday evening into the relative full stop in the soft patch which at one stage had them looking at 100th overall and 15th in class.
Now they’re getting back on track with a return to 9th in class, though there’s still a mountain to climb as they’re at 77th overall, but in a very fluid situation.
Meanwhile, in the clarifying overall leadership battle, Ichi Ban currently finds herself in close competition in the numbers game for the overall lead with the French Milius 50 Daguet (Frederic Puzet) and Quentin Stewart’s experimental 46ft Maverick 49 - entered as home-porting in Guernsey in the Channels Islands - which sports both canting keel and DSS foils. Ireland’s Sean McCarter was involved in the test pilot periods of her development from being new in 2013-2014, and while she has recorded an eclectic listing of successes, a podium place in the 75th RSHR really would hit the button.
Race Tracker here