The Sydney to Gold Coast fleet has woken to a “classic winter’s morning” reported SAP Ausmaid skipper Roger Hickman following this morning’s sked report, which has yielded good news for the crew of Grundig Xena.
Overnight conditions brought fresh S/SE breezes and plenty of rain to the fleet of 51 before winds swung to the southwest and eased to 12-15 knots. Given that Sean Langman's Open 60 Grundig Xena is around half the weight of the bigger Sydney maxi Brindabella (George Snow), the abating winds delivered Xena the perfect opportunity to put some valuable miles between them - and she did.
At this morning's 0635hours position report, Grundig Xena was holding a commanding 36 nautical mile lead over Brindabella and was sailing 44 miles south of Ballina with an ETA across the finish line off Southport's Main Beach of 2.30pm this afternoon, just over an hour outside the two-year race record.
Peter Hansen's Elliott 45 Coyote has held on to third position and is 31 nautical miles behind the second placed Brindabella, with Martin James' Infinity III in fourth position.
On IMS handicap, Brindabella is leading the Beneteau 40.7 Shipping Central (Reed/Spies) and Terry Mullens' Sting. Grundig Xena is currently leading the IRC fleet followed by Warren Johns' Heaven Can Wait and Infinity III, while in the PHS division, Ivan Resnekov's Farr Horizons is placed first ahead of Randal Wilson's Bright Morning Star and Phil Hearse's Anteater.
Hickman, currently in 13th position in the fleet with SAP Ausmaid, overall winner of last year's Telstra Sydney to Hobart Race, reported tough conditions overnight. "It was very hard on crews with so much pressure reaching, and because the margins between shy spinnakers and two-sail reaching were so tight," he said.
This morning Shane Kearns advised Race Control that Komatsu Blue Lady had sustained steering damage but were continuing on. There was brighter news for Farr Horizons crewman Michael Tomaszewski, who was advised by Race Control that a granddaughter had arrived into the world last night and was doing well.
Today's forecast is for S/SW winds of 10-15 knots followed by SE/NE breezes of 5/10 knots with seas 1-2 metres and abating. Wednesday's forecast is for NE/NW winds of 10/15 knots turning south and freshening to15-25 knots.