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27 December 2003, 12:28 pm
Record Holder Looking Good For Handicap Win
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Rolex Sydney Hobart
Sydney - Hobart

Versatile Sydney yachtsman Michael SPIES, holder of the race record for the Rolex Sydney Yacht Race, this evening has his eyes firmly on his first overall handicap win in the ocean classic.
Spies was co-skipper of the Volvo 60, Nokia, when it slashed the record for the 628 nautical mile course in 1999.

This year he is skipper of the Beneteau 40.7, First National Real Estate, and is currently heading the progressive standings in the grand prix IMS handicap division.

Spies boasts that this boat is the best optimised 40-footer in the fleet and the boat appears to be proving that claim by consistently figuring high in Yacht Tracker assessments of corrected time positions.

First National Real Estate's position at 6pm was 16 nautical miles north of Green Cape and she is expected to enter Bass Strait during the night, racing closely with the higher rating Sydney 38s.

Progressive corrected IMS placings at 6pm placed the Beneteau 40.7 in first place ahead of George Snow's maxi, Brindabella, and Howard de Torres' IMX40, Nips N Tux. Then followed Chutzpah, Andrew Short Marine and Asylum.

In the IRC division, the high tech maxis continue to hold top standings on handicap as well as line honours, with Skandia first, then Zana, followed by Grundig AAPT, First National Real Estate, Nicorette and Brindabella.

Meanwhile, at the back of the fleet, the ageless Berrimilla, a Brolga 33 owned by Alex WHITWORTH, was tonight sailing sedately south in a fading 10-knot south-easterly breeze, still north of Montagu Island on the NSW South Coast.

"After getting 28 knots on the nose last night, we are enjoying a warm and sunny afternoon, but with little breeze," Whitworth told the Rolex Media Centre by satellite phone.

"We have 500 miles to sail so we have a few more days at sea before we get to Hobart," he added.

At 6pm Berrimilla was second last in the now 55-boat fleet, following the recent retirement of the Sydney 38 Dodo due to mainsail damage. The boat is currently heading to the port of Eden.
Peter Campbell (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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