The leading yachts in the Sydney to Hobart made the most of calmer conditions as the race for line honours reached its final stages.
The southwesterly gale-force winds which forced the retirement of 12 boats yesterday had subsided, with the first competitors expected in Hobart tonight.
Four-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI maintained a 20 nautical mile lead over its nearest rival Investec LOYAL, while Lahana was a further 24 miles behind.
LOYAL skipper Sean Langman said the supermaxi’s chances of arriving in Hobart first depended upon getting the right conditions.
“We’re going to arrive as the breeze fades, the sun goes down and the … wind shuts down, so our best opportunity is just the arrival time,” he said.
Lahana helmsman Geoff Cropley said his yacht’s wide course was part of its strategy. “We’re deliberately staying out wide to avoid the softer winds to the west of us,” he said.
“Tactically, we’re exactly where we want to be. “We’re in a pretty good position, everyone’s on the rail and we’re going hard.”
Cropley said the 98-foot maxi was on track to arrive in Hobart between 9 and 10pm on Tuesday.
“Our strategy is to be the most easterly boat until we start hunting up towards (the lead),” he said.
“We don’t want to get sucked into the coast too early. Wild Oats was also enjoying the calmer conditions. The 100-foot supermaxi’s navigator Adrienne Cahalan said the crew was in good shape.
“We are certainly glad to see this calmer weather, but it is bitterly cold out here this morning,” she said.
“The good news is that it’s sunny, so we are all drying out after being so wet yesterday.”
The fleet was reduced to 71 boats following the overnight withdrawals of Pirelli Celestial, Salona II, Nemesis and last year’s overall winner Two True.
The NSW yacht Pirelli Celestial had problems with her mainsail, Sydney’s Salona had steering troubles, while Two True had engine issues.