26 December 2017

PSP Logistics is still leading the Clipper Race fleet after the first night of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, but there is little separating it from the other ten teams.

As well as leading the Clipper 70 class, which doubles as Race 5 of the Clipper 2017-18 Race, PSP Logistics is 38th out of 102 yachts in the overall Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Standings, 56th in IRC, and 14th in Division 1. But with great running conditions on the journey south to Hobart, it has turned into a drag race, with little room for error.

Just two nautical miles separates PSP Logistics from the second placed Sanya Serenity Coast (39th overall, 59th IRC, 15th Division 1)and third placed Dare To Lead (40th overall, 61st IRC, 16th Division 1), and there is just seven nautical miles between the first and tenth placed Clipper 70.

IMAGE: Clipper Race Viewer. All positions correct at time of publishing.

After being first around the mark and leading the Clipper Race fleet out of Sydney Heads, PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell wrote: “Our start today was great and we had no mishaps, while giving the crew time to work off their Christmas dinner. We ended up being first out of Sydney Heads and have to keep a close eye over our shoulder as the whole fleet is not far behind.

“We are very much looking forward to getting stuck into this short race down to Hobart where any mistakes will be very difficult to make good.”

Sanya Serenity Coast didn’t have the best of starts on Sydney Harbour but under the direction of Skipper Wendy Tuck, who is competing in her eleventh Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the team had worked its way into third place coming through the Heads, and then second after turning right to Hobart. Dare To Lead is hot on Sanya Serenity Coast’s heels in third though, and Skipper Dale Smyth says: “Busy start to race after great stopover in Sydney. It was brilliant to spend time with my family and for everyone to have a break and a great Christmas. Now focused on racing in the iconic Sydney Hobart which is looking like it will be a fast one.”

Qingdao (42nd overall, 64th IRC, 19th Division 1)is less than a nautical mile behind Dare To Lead in fourth, and is closely followed by Visit Seattle (43rd overall, 63rd IRC, 18th Division 1), which is being led by the youngest Skipper in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet, Nikki Henderson. Nikki reports: “We were early over the line but a little slow to pick up speed left us in about fifth place rounding the first mark. Not too bad and all to play for still. It's strange only having a few days to try and pick up the miles rather than a few weeks.

“Everyone is happy onboard. We have our Code 2 (mediumweight spinnaker) up and are in sight of Sanya Serenity Coast, PSP Logistics and Dare To Lead - on the hunt as they say.”

Also on the hunt are Unicef (44th overall, 62nd IRC, 17th Division 1)and Liverpool 2018 (47th overall, 69th IRC, 22nd Division 1), who are neck and neck in sixth and seventh, whilst Garmin (49th overall, 71st IRC, 23rd Division 1)is less than a nautical mile behind in eighth, despite choosing a slightly more easterly route. Garmin has its sights on moving up in the standings, with Skipper Gaëtan Thomas commenting: “Code 1 (lightweight spinnaker) up, all good, and looking forward to get in to Hobart as fast and safe as possible! The start was done safely, now we are racing.”

The ninth placed GREAT Britain (48th overall, 65th IRC, 20th Division 1)is racing well ahead of Nasdaq (51st overall, 74th IRC, 24th Division 1)and HotelPlanner.com (75th overall, 66th IRC, 21st Division 1),and GREAT Britain Skipper Andy Burns reports: “The crew have done a fantastic job helping get us out of the harbour which became in the end quite a difficult start with some serious patches of light airs. We are now in open water and heading south for what promises to be an exceptional New Year.”

IMAGE: Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Tracker. All positions correct at time of publishing.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s Invictus Games Sydney 2018 GAME ON, which is being crewed by UK veterans, is currently 58th in the overall standings, after racing some 184 nautical miles since race start. The second Clipper 68, Invictus Games Sydney 2018 DOWN UNDER is in 95th overall.

Line Honours for the wider 102 strong fleet could be determined as early as tonight, with the leading six yachts are all ahead of the race record of 1 day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds set by Perpetual LOYAL (now racing as InfoTrack) in 2016.

Super maxi LDV Comanche is leading the line honours race, making the most of a strong north-easterly wind in Bass Strait. Wild Oats XI made up ground overnight to be 14 miles behindin second, Black Jack is a further 20 miles astern, Beau Geste another ten miles, then another three miles astern lies InfoTrack. The V70 Wizard is just two miles further from Hobart and then comes Wild Oats XI’s little brother, Wild Oats X, some distance back and not yet into Bass Strait.

In good news for the Clipper Race fleet, the north-easterlies currently taking the teams down the east coast of Australia will continue to build the further south they are, moving into the 25 to 35 knot range. To follow their progress, keep an eye on the Clipper Race Viewer. You can also track the Clipper 70s against the wider Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet here.

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