|HOBART, 3:15:00 PM AEDT-(28-12-2004) The last survivor of the supermaxis in the 60th anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Ludde Ingvall’s 90-footer Nicorette, is expected to lead the decimated fleet into Hobart early tomorrow morning.
At 2.00pm today, Nicorette was off Wineglass Bay on the Tasmanian East Coast, making just under 10 knots to windward. She was more than 50 nautical miles ahead of the next boat in the fleet, Sean Langman’s 66-footer, AAPT, with George Snow’s maxi, Brindabella, third in the fleet.
If Nicorette can maintain this speed over the final 116 nautical miles of the rugged race, it should finish about 2am, but local yachtsmen say that, realistically, it will be nearer 4am as winds on the Derwent River historically fade from midnight onwards.
Meanwhile a recovery plan is now underway for Skandia, which was forced to retire at 2.00am today with major problems in controlling its canting keel. A tug has been contracted to take the boat in tow back to a safe port yet to be announced. It is expected that the 98-footer will be recovered by first light tomorrow at the latest.
Shortly before 9am the crew of 16 left the 98-footer in two liferafts and transferred to the Water Police launch Van Diemen which has since taken them to Lady Barron on Flinders.
A total of 51 boats have now officially retired from the 116 boat fleet that set sail from Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day, leaving 65 still racing. Of these, several are still sheltering in Twofold Bay as galeforce southerly winds sweep up the Tasmanian East Coast and across eastern Bass Strait.