South Australian yacht SAP Ausmaid is shaping as the first South Australian contender in 50 years to win the Telstra 2000 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
Ausmaid, skippered by Kevan Pearce, crossed the Hobart finish line at 10.44 pm last night to become the IMS Overall race leader. Ausmaid, a Farr 47 design, is ahead of the UK entry Quest, skippered by Chris Bull, from the Royal Ocean Racing Club and last year's IMS Overall winner, Yendys, the Farr 49 skippered by Geoff Ross. If she is confirmed as the race winner at the declaration of results at 11 am tomorrow (December 31). Ausmaid will be first South Australian entry to take the title in 50 years. The last and only South Australian Overall winner was Nerida in 1950.
Race organisers say several yachts still at sea remain with a chance. They include AFR Midnight Rambler (Ed Psaltis and Bob Thomas, NSW), which at this morning's race sked, was abeam of Freycinet Peninsula, Chutzpah (Bruce Taylor, Vic), the cruiser/racer Sunstone (Vicky and Tom Jackson, UK), and BOOTS (Rex Billing and John Porter, Vic).
Yachts which have crossed the finish since midnight include Yendys, Quest (Chris Bull, UK), Ragamuffin (Syd Fischer, NSW), Loki (Stephen Ainsworth, NSW), Cruz Control (Maynard Smith, Qld), Ninety Seven (Graham Gibson, NSW), and Eureka (Bob Roberston, Qld), bringing to 15 the number of finishers with 45 yachts still at sea.
Illbruck won the heated Volvo 60 battle at 9 am local time Friday and also collected the trophy for third over the finish line of 630-mile Telstra Sydney to Hobart Yact Race. During the final night of the 2 day, 20 hour voyage, illbruck and Tyco were still neck-and-neck in the race for Volvo 60 line honours, with Tyco slightly ahead as the breeze began to build. "The wind continued to pick up," Kostecki said. "We changed down the sails and at midnight a squall came through blowing up to 50 knots."
For most of the race, the lead was shared by Tyco and News Corp with illbruck never far off their transoms. "The first night the wind shifted south and we did a poor job of calling the shots and placing the boat further offshore than Tyco and News Corp. We reached across Bass Strait and then the next night we passed News Corp. News Corp slowed down and we passed them on raw boat speed."
The illbruck Challenge crew and the three other Volvo Ocean Race teams will restart on their race to Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday morning, December 30. The re-start was intended to take place three hours after the finishing time of the last boat at Hobart and not more than six hours after the finish of the first yacht. Due to the gap between the first two Volvo 60 finishers and News Corp and Assa Abloy and the repairs needed on all of the boats, the teams agreed to postpone the restart until tomorrow.