As the daylight of Sunday morning strengthens along the east coast of Tasmania, Irish interest in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart race 2019 turns towards Darren Wright’s First 40 HYC Daybreak in Division 6.
We can re-focus confident in the knowledge that if you take every possible permutation of Irish linkage into account, we can claim an interest in the indisputable Line Honours Winner (SuperMaxi Comanche, with Jim Cooney of County Meath), the Division 1 (and probably overall) winner Ichi Ban (sailing master Gordon Maguire of Howth), and the Division 2 winner Chinese Whisper (navigator Adrienne Cahalan of Offaly and crewmember Shane Diviney of Howth).
But only 21 boats of the 157 starters are now comfortably finished. Out at sea – sometimes very far out at sea - the smaller craft have been having a frustrating night of it with winds all over the place and very confused seas as they’ve tried to make to windward in what was expected to be a brief southerly.
Brief it may be, but at one stage there was plenty of it, and HYC Breakthrough was down to No 2 and a reef in the main as she crashed through the night. Navigator Rick De Neve reports that they’re trying to make some westing to be better placed for an eventual wind swing back to the northeast which seems to be filling in more quickly towards the coast, but meanwhile the windward slugging in a southerly has had a distinct hint of the Antarctic about it after taking their leave from Sydney in a serious heatwave.
For the time being, their westward tack has impinged on their overall and class placing, though even as we write, HYC Breakthrough is getting up to speed again. Until they took the plunge, they’d been 5th in Division 6th and second overall in the Corinthian Division, but at 1830 hrs Irish time they were (hopefully temporarily) back at tenth in class.
Even at that, they have seen off several First 40s which were giving them a hard time in the early stages of the race, but at the front of the class the Tasmanian-based Sydney 36 Special called Willie Smith’s Philosopher (Australian boat names really are something else) is setting a ferocious pace which will be very challenging to overcome, even with more than a hundred miles still to race.
Race Tracker here