The 17 boat fleet in the 480 mile Indec Consulting Melbourne to Hobart Race were sent on their way with a large crowd of spectators on the shore and water as the gun was fired at 12pm today.
A sou' east 10 knot breeze greeted the fleet as they headed towards Bass Strait and onto the west coast of Tasmania.
Indec Merit the Volvo 60 made it to the Port Phillip heads in 35 minutes and 30 seconds ahead of Prowler, the 47 foot Elliot being skippered by owner Christian Jackson from Geelong. At 3pm Indec Merit was travelling at 9.8 knots with the breeze on the nose from the south -south west.
After reporting in at the 6pm 'sked' Indec Merit had a nine mile lead on Prowler with Melbourne to Hobart first timers Peter Davidson and Richard McGarvie's Addiction and Phil Coombs's No Fearr five miles astern. Overall race winner in 2000 Tevake was two miles behind in fifth place and ahead of Royal Brighton Yacht Club Vice Commodore David BINGHAM on Amaya.
David GOTZE co-skipper on Indec Merit was keen to know how Nokia was doing in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race with a friendly bet between the two Volvo 60's. " If the breeze keeps swinging to the west we are hoping to go for a jib top in the next hour and start reaching down to King Island"
reported Gotze after the 6pm sked.
Australia's 'other big yacht race' will be sailing down the west coast of Tasmania tomorrow after getting across Bass Strait during the night. If the current 20-knot SSW breeze continues Indec Merit would be in sight of Cape Grim (NW Tasmania) by early morning and in a good position to break the race record.
For more information on the Indec Melbourne to Hobart fleet and race details visit the event website at the address below.