The business end of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is fast approaching for race leaders Skandia and Zana.
With 75 miles still to go to the finish in light breezes off Tasmania’s south-east coast, they are managing speeds of up to 9 knots, demonstrating how efficient they are as racing machines.
Zana’s sailing master Peter Sutton said from the yacht tonight that the tactics that allowed them to make up the 2-3 mile gap between the 98-footers had been “well-discussed on board”.
As to what they had up their sleeve in order to get in front, he was non committal, “Let’s just say we’ve got plans.”
At about 7pm the boats were 35 miles from Tasman Island, the first landmark for the race fleet after leaving Sydney. From there the yachts have a further 40 miles to the finish line at Castray Esplanade on Hobart’s waterfront.
Further back in the fleet yachts were encountering different breezes – some virtually ‘parked’ east of St Helens and doing barely more than a knot.
An early Monday morning finish is certain but as for the actual time, that will come down to winds, tide and tactics.
Variable winds forecast overnight in Storm Bay and the Derwent River, and an outgoing tide in the Derwent River starting at 3.30am will slow the yachts down to a snails pace, frustrating the progress for the line honours contenders – and by morning that could expand to six yachts.
It is highly likely that as dawn breaks over the Derwent, followers will see the super maxis locked in a tactical duel with little separating them, and the promise of one of the closest finishes in recent memory.