Tough sea conditions sort out Hobart fleet

Cruising Yacht club of Australia commodore Noel Cornish says sea conditions rather than strong winds was the main reason for the rash of retirements in the Sydney-Hobart, with more than a quarter of the fleet out of the race in little more than 18 hours.

By the end of Boxing Day, 18 of the 88 starters had pulled out and seven more retired on Monday morning.

The three supermaxis were all still racing and at the front of the fleet, with Monaco’s Black Jack leading from Sydney’s LawConnect and Hong Kong’s SHK Scallywag 100.


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“The biggest thing on these boats is slowing it down, so we slowed the boat down and managed our way through what we needed to get done and came out the other side,” LawConnect’s Ty Oxley said.

The most prominent casualty on Monday was Alive, which won overall honours in 2018 and finished fourth a year later.

The 66-foot Tasmanian yacht suffered hull damage and was heading back to Sydney.

Four Sydney yachts also retired, Oz Design Patrice Six (engine issues), Philosopher, (internal damage) Chancellor (sail damage) and Kayimai (engine/electrical issues).

Victorian Cookson 50 Extasea retired with engine issues and Queensland 39-foot yacht Huntress pulled out with no reason specified.

“I think the seaway is what has been causing the issues,” commodore Cornish told AAP.

“The southerly at up to 30 knots is not an unusual southerly for this sort of race.

“But the north travelling south current going against that 30 knot southerly is what has caused quite steep seas and that’s what has done the damage.”

The smaller boats have been particularly hard hit with almost two-thirds of the retirements coming in the 46-foot and under contingent.

“I guess it’s harsher on them, you’ve got a two metre swell or a wave coming at you,” Cornish added.

“If you are in a small boat that’s going to hit you a bit harder than a large one.

“They will be the ones that will really feeling it out there.”

The commodore said while the fleet would probably have to contend with strong winds for a little longer, but expected conditions to ease later on Monday.

“I think as the day progresses it’s due to abate as a southerly front just moves through and moves up the coast,” Cornish said.

Tasmanian boat Sidewinder was the line honours leader among the Two-Handed boats.

Queensland 40-foot boat Fruit Salad (Salid) 3, and NSW TP52s Celestial and Ichi Ban were among the early handicap leaders.

© AAP 2021