Super maxi Scallywag out as Comanche takes charge

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The damaged prow is a blow to Scallywag and its proprietor, Aveo chairman Seng Huang Lee, who spent lavishly on refurbishments for the boat earlier than the race.

It was broken simply hours after the race began on Wednesday afternoon.

Scallywag’s retirement from the race will not be the primary misfortune the yacht has suffered: it broke two sails in a warm-up occasion for the blue-water traditional.

At 10pm on Wednesday, Wild Oats XI was sustaining a slim lead over the opposite tremendous maxis.

Final 12 months’s winner, Comanche, is 5 nautical miles behind after main within the late afternoon, with Infotrack and Black Jack between it and Wild Oats XI.

Comanche skipper Jim Cooney took his boat a lot additional out to sea this 12 months than final 12 months, chasing stronger winds. The technique appeared to achieve success: Comanche hit speeds as much as 30 knots (57 km/h) earlier than slackening winds slowed its progress.

Earlier on Wednesday, Comanche had sped down the coast sooner than her record-breaking tempo of final 12 months.

Among the many tremendous maxis, Wild Oats XI and Black Jack are finest positioned to profit from mild winds.

Out of the Heads

Sydney Harbour was crowded with tons of of spectator boats, making the beginning tough for a number of the tremendous maxis.

Black Jack was the primary yacht out of Sydney Heads, taking simply over 13 minutes to clear the harbour from the beginning line.

InfoTrack, Wild Oats XI and Scallywag adopted Black Jack. In a shock flip, smaller 60-foot boat Successful Home equipment was subsequent, adopted by Comanche.

No boats had been penalised for crossing the beginning line early, not like final 12 months, when three boats needed to restart.

Reaching the heads first will not be a sign of which boat is prone to finally win the race, but it surely boosts crew morale and comes with the Jack Rooklyn Memorial Trophy.

Out of the blocks: Black Jack leads the fleet through Sydney Heads.

Out of the blocks: Black Jack leads the fleet by way of Sydney Heads.Credit score:AAP

Gun Runner, the Australian Military coaching vessel and smallest boat within the fleet, cleared the heads final.

Whereas Gun Runner will not be in rivalry to win, final 12 months’s total winner Matt Allen mentioned forecast slower winds from Thursday night left the race for total honours large open.

“We’re actually involved that the transition we’re going to get tomorrow and the 28th is actually going to gradual the entire fleet down,” Allen mentioned earlier than boarding his yacht, Ichi Ban.

“It’ll be actually onerous work. Tonight can be actually quick. It’ll decelerate finally, however by way of the course of tomorrow, it’s going to be about individuals avoiding the areas of no wind.”

Ichi Ban, French yacht Teasing Machine and American entry Privateer are all an opportunity at total honours.

If mild winds gradual the quickest boats however decide up after they cross the end line, it may be an excellent 12 months for Mark Twain, the primary boat to finish 25 Hobarts, which is racing once more after 15 years off.

This race is the 20th anniversary of the 1998 catastrophe, when six sailors drowned and 5 boats had been misplaced after a devastating storm hit the fleet close to Bass Strait.

The 2018 fleet will observe a minute’s silence on Thursday in honour of those that misplaced their lives 20 years in the past.

Nick is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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