Alfa Romeo roars away
At 3am this morning she gave her position as abeam of Eddystone Point on the north-east tip of Tasmania with only 170 nautical miles from the finish of the 630 nautical mile ocean classic.
She has lifted her average speed since the start of the race to just over 12 knots, despite some light winds late yesterday and is set to achieve the long-planned ambitions of her owner, Sydney-based New Zealand motor industry leader Neville Crichton.
The Rolex Sydney Hobart Race computer assessment of her position gives an estimated time of arrival off Hobart’s historic Battery Point at 5.20pm, ensuring a huge welcome from a city packed with visitors for the Hobart Summer Festival and the fmous Salamanca Markets.
All hinges, of course on the winds throughout today but the north-easterly breezes are expected to increase from 10 to 20 knots, enabling the Reichel/Pugh-designed, Australian-built 90-footer to continuing carry her huge spinnaker down the Tasmanian East Coast.
At 3am today, Alfa Romeo was 18 miles ahead of the Sydney Open 66, Grundig, with owner/skipper Sean Langman and his crew of skiff sailors driving the “skiff on steroids” up into second place in the spinnaker-running conditions that have been ideal for this lightweight flyer.
The British 97-footer, Canon, skippered by London businessman Mike Slade, is 11 miles further astern, approaching Eddystone Point, with less than eight miles to the Victorian 83-footer, Australian Skandia Wild Thing, skippered by Grant Wharington.
The Swedish maxi, Nicorette is just south fo Flinders Island, followed closely by the Sydney 80-footer, Brindabella.
On corrected times, Alfa Romeo has regained first place in the IRC Division, heading the leaderboard from Grundig and Syd Fischer’s Farr 50, Ragamuffin.
Ragamuffin continues to head progressive placings in the grand prix IMS division with the veteran Zeus II, Jim Dunstan’s Currawong 30 that won this race back in 1981, holding second place. This is Fischer’s 34 th Hobart Race while Dunstan is reaching the milestone 25 th race,
In third place in the IMS division is the Middle Harbour Yacht Club boat, Impeccable, skippered by 80-year-old John Walker, the oldest skipper in the fleet.
Fitness First Sting, Terry Mullens’ Farr 49 which won this race in 1999 on corrected time, has dropped back dramatically from first in yesterday’s afternoon 'sked' to be 20 th on handicap. In the fleet she is now 36 miles astern of Ragamuffin after setting a course well east of the rhumb line course.