Dismastings and damaged sailsGusts of up to 80 knots have ended the chances of several competitors in the Sydney Hobart race. Two times winner of the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, SAP Ausmaid, was among three more retirements overnight as the fleet continues to battle strong winds off the New South Wales Coast.
SAP Ausmaid, Overall handicap winner in 1996 and 2000, broke her mast about 1am today (14.00 GMT), with another South Australian-owned boat, Secret Men's Business, also being dismasted half an hour later. The third retirement in the early hours of this morning was Broomstick, the former Vendee Globe Race competitor who has pulled out with damaged rigging.
On the first night of the race as the fleet battled 30 knot south-westerly winds, four prominent competitors were forced to withdraw. The retirements included one of the line honours favourites, Australia Skandia Wild Thing together with Cadibarra, Simply Red and the 1999 race winner Sting.
Severe thunderstorms ripped into the leading yachts causing severe damage. Wild Thing ripped her mainsail while Sting reported rigging damage as they returned north to Sydney. Last year's line honours winner Nicorette, the Swedish maxi, was hit by what skipper Ludde Ingvall described as a 'twister' with the crew dropping her high-tech sails as hail the size of golf balls pounded the boat. Despite their quick thinking, the mainsail was severely damaged. Nicorette is continuing to race with her spare mainsail.
The Defence Forces entry, Lady Penrhyn reported this morning that had dropped a seasick crewman, Paul Garai, ashore at Kiamia but they were continuing in the race.
Meanwhile, the Volvo Ocean Race competitors taking part in the 57th CYCA Sydney Hobart Race as part of their Sydney to Auckland third leg continue to lead the fleet as the yachts beat to windward in rising seas towards Bass Strait.
illbruck and Tyco are currently leading with News Corp and Assa Abloy just one and two miles behind respectively. The leading boats are all now racing in around 25 knots of breeze and three to four metre swells.
illbruck and Tyco have been locked in a very close battle with Assa Abloy and News Corp fighting it out together further inshore. Only two miles separates the leading four boats, although djuice has recently lost a little ground to the leading pack, but remains on the same mid fleet heading as the leaders. SEB is tracking slightly further offshore on the same heading and currently fifth on the water with Amer Sports One furthest east of the fleet. Amer Sports Too remains resolutely last amongst the Volvo boats.
The latest forecast is for the strong winds to continue overnight but ease during tomorrow as the front moves north. However, winds are expected to freshen again off the Far South Coast.
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