Zana, the biggest ocean racing monohull built in New Zealand and the major threat to Grant WHARINGTON'S first Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours win, cast its lines from the dock in Auckland late last night for its late dash to Sydney.
With nine race crew and one delivery crew on board, the forecast is good for the 1,200 nautical mile crossing and they expect to arrive in Sydney on December 16 or 17.
Sailing manager Peter Sutton this morning reported they were sailing in a northerly breeze up the New Zealand east coast. Once they round North Cape, they are 'expecting to crack sheets and maybe even hoist a spinnaker,' he said.
Skandia and Zana, two brand new 98-footers and the largest boats ever to race in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, will head an international fleet of 60 in the 627 nautical mile ocean race starting on 26 December from Sydney Harbour.
Skandia and Zana, built for New Zealand yachtsman Stewart Thwaites, are both state of the art carbon fibre construction and incorporate the latest concepts in design, hull engineering, rigging, sails and trimming techniques.
Skandia has a revolutionary canting keel, said to be the largest in the world; Zana has a fixed keel but has opted to use water ballast to optimise her performance.
Skandia is competing in this weekend's Rolex Trophy Series and her crew is gaining valuable race experience on the new boat to add to that already accumulated during the JPMorgan Regatta a fortnight ago and in yesterday's weather-challenged Canon Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour.
Apart from a social twilight race last night in Auckland, Zana is yet to compete seriously on the race course but will have plenty of cruising miles to her name by the time she completes her passage to Sydney.