Can Rosebud secure the handicap win?

The American STP65 edged ahead in Bass Strait, but there are some strong contenders chasing

Friday December 28th 2007, Author: Jim Gale, Location: Australasia
History may record that the second day decided the overall winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the day the American 65-footer Rosebud leapt away from the other maxi chasers as the southerly turned north again at the eastern end of Bass Strait.

Will Oxley, navigator on Geoff Ross’ Sydney-based 55 footer Yendys, this afternoon
rued the conditions that saw Roger Sturgeon’s Rosebud extend its lead over the other main handicap contenders from 20 nautical miles to 80 when she was able to raise her running, downwind sails again.

"In those conditions, they just took off. There was nothing we could about it," Oxley said. "This has been essentially a downwind race and that has suited Rosebud."

Dawn today saw Rosebud not only 80 miles in front of the other contenders a quarter of the way down the Tasmanian east coast, but with a cushion of about two hours on Ray Roberts’ Quantum Racing, Ragamuffin, Yendys and Ichi Ban. A short time ago that was the order on corrected time.

Yendys this afternoon was chasing Rosebud at 16-17 knots under a spinnaker, staysail and full main in 28 knots of wind. She was in close company with Quantum Racing and veteran Syd Fischer's new TP52 Ragamuffin.

"We are going as fast as we can in this weight of breeze," Oxley said. "The wind and sea conditions have made for demanding sailing this afternoon, but the frustration for Yendys is that light conditions, which she is expecting tonight, will further advantage Rosebud. We need a fast fetch across from Tasman to Cape Raoul and then to the Pot
and we need Rosebud to slow down in the Derwent. It will help us if she has to
tack up the Derwent."

The race for honours in Division C, being fought out by the 40-footers east of Flinders Island, is absorbing, according to Roger Hickman, the Sydney-based sailing master of the WA Corby 49 Limit which started its trek south almost 18 minutes after the rest of the fleet after skipper Alan Brierty’s flight from Perth was delayed.

"This has been a very strategic race between ourselves, Shogun, Wedgetail and Chutzpah," Hickman said this afternoon "We have been each sailing to our strengths. Chutzpah has been planing; we have been driving deeper, using our (symmetrical) spinnakers to the maximum advantage. We had a great run on the first day and felt we had made up time."

However, they chose to chase the southerly current close inshore near Montague Island thinking yesterday’s breeze would be south-west. "It went south and south-east, not south-west," Hickman said. That advantaged Chutzpah.

Bruce Taylor's Victorian boat Chutzpah has a five-hour cushion on corrected time in the division, but Limit, Shogun and Wedgetail are within an hour of each other.

Hickman reported 12 knots from the NNW which was giving Limit 11 knots through the water. "This is champagne sailing," Hickman said, "but the tactics between us as we
assess current and wind are just fascinating."

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