Wedgetail (Bill WILD), Club Marine ASM (Andrew SHORT) and Living Doll (Michael HIATT) arrived in Mackay in a bunch between midday and 13:00.
It was a wild and woolly ride for the lead yachts in South to Sou'East winds which gusted up to 40 knots.
The crews of Seriously Ten, Club Marine ASM and Living Doll battled with broken battens, tangled spinnakers and other gear breakages. Seriously Ten snapped a spinnaker pole and Shaun JAMES was washed off the steering wheel twice when the boat was swamped by waves. Living Doll and Club Marine ASM were forced to stop when spinnakers wrapped around their keels.
"At one stage off Morton Island we were going backwards before we managed to untangle the kite," said Michael HIATT, skipper of Living Doll. His new Cookson 50 was put to the test in the conditions after only its second race. "Overall, I am very pleased with the performance," he said.
Andrew SHORT, skipper of the Farr 40 Club Marine ASM, had to send a crew member overboard to free the spinnaker from the keel, just prior to the start. "I thought oh, oh, it is going to be one of those races," said Andrew SHORT, who at this stage is leading on IRC handicap. A late challenge could come from Roger HICKMAN's Wild Rose.
"It was a vastly different race from last year," said Andrew SHORT who won line honours in 2004. "Last year we came up inside the reef in light winds, and saw plenty of wildlife. This year, we kept outside the islands and reefs and saw very little. Despite the conditions, I still think this is a fantastic race," he said
Wedgetail, the Queensland entry which was built by skipper Bill WILD and his friends at the back of a wreckers yard in Brisbane, proved a dark horse. Launched only a week ago, the Wellbourn 42 set a cracking pace on her maiden voyage after the bowman fell overboard at the start of the race. "We were doing 15 - 20 knots most of the way," said WILD. "We had a great race."
Short Shipped, the Farr 40 owned by Matthew SHORT is expected into Mackay Harbour at around 17.45 (local time) this evening.
The next scheduled position report will be at 16:15 hours (local time) for updates on the remaining four yachts.