However, neither First National nor the other leading 40-footers, Nips-N-Tux and Chutzpah, made a dent in Aera's standing on the provisional IRC corrected time result.
Big boats dominate the top placings with Aera, a Ker 55 owned by Nick LYKIARDOPULO from Royal Yacht Squadron in England, provisionally leading the IRC standings ahead of line honours winner, Nicorette, the Simons/Voogd 90 owned by Sydney-based yachtsman Ludde INGVALL.
Aera is now provisionally the twelfth overseas yacht to win Australia's great bluewater race - appropriately a British-owned boat, Rani, won the first in 1945 and now, in the 60th race, victory appears likely to go to another UK boat in Aera, skippered by English yachtsman Jez FANSTONE for its London-based owner Nick LYKIARDOPULO.
In provisional third place is Matt ALLAN's Farr 52, Ichi Ban, the current Australian IRC champion, while fourth is AAPT, Sean LANGMAN's Andy DOVELL-designed Open 66.
The classic 31-year-old wooden boat Love and War has no prospect of displacing Aera despite her low rating (handicap), but is ranked fifth overall in computer calculations.
At 7.00pm tonight ( local time, 30 December) she was sailing across Storm Bay, 29 nautical miles from the finish with the seabreeze in Storm Bay and the Derwent River expected to fade after sunset.
Ichi Ban fast running on Day 2
© Ian Mainsbridge
Winners of the various handicap and one-design divisions will also be announced and the skippers presented with the traditional burgee to mark their success.
The severe winds and seas that battered the 116-boat fleet over the past two-and-a-half days have abated; so much so that many yachts were becalmed in Storm Bay this morning until the southerly seabreeze arrived.
Throughout the afternoon, from 12 noons through to 7.15pm, 12 more yachts finished the race; enjoying easy spinnaker runs up the river to joining eight boats that crossed the line yesterday and during last night.
The total finishers by 7.15 pm stood at 20 boats with the first Tasmanian yacht, Craig KING's Interum crossing the line at 7:12:14 pm.
The rest of the fleet is spread from Storm Bay to just 50 miles south of Gabo Island on the southeast tip of the Australian mainland, where the little Gillawa still has some 340 nautical miles to sail. Her ETA is 5 January 2005.