A tough battle in the small hours off the Queensland coast as Sean LANGMAN'S skiff on steroids, the heavily modified Open 60, now 66 footer AAPT lead the unbeaten Skandia around Lady Elliott Island in the 56th Brisbane to Gladstone Race.
At the 2305 sked last night, Skandia did not report, but Race Control discovered later that she had been 5 miles behind AAPT at sked time, but Skandia had been able to report her position because she was in a black spot between two Coastal Radio sites.
Shifty conditions during the night had crews on both boats working hard, with constant sail changes, as wind angles were shifting up to 30 degrees.
At the 5am sked Skandia was off Bustard Head 19 miles from the entrance to the Gladstone River, two miles ahead of AAPT.
Navigator Genevieve WHITE explained from the Skandia nav. Station. "Its been a tough night. AAPT had sailed around us, around Indian Head as we suspected, she had more pressure on the outside. She was able to stay ahead of us, up Breaksea Spit and we began closing on her as we approached Lady Musgrave.
We had 2.5 knots of current against us, but the wind pressure stayed in the high teens and low 20's.
On the hard running passage across the paddock from abeam Lady Musgrave, we managed to sail underneath AAPT.
Right now, we are two miles ahead, sailing with a jib top and staysail, in a 20 knot south easter."
Around 36 miles from the Gladstone finish; Skandia and AAPT will have to sail up the narrow channels of the Gladstone River against the ebbing tide. However a finish around 7:30am an hour inside the old record now looks likely.
The 0505 radio sked is still under way. Results will be posted by 0630.