Records may fall in Sydney Hobart race

Records may fall in Sydney Hobart race

SYDNEY - Agence France-Presse
Favorable winds may produce a record time when the grueling Sydney to Hobart yacht race sets off on Boxing Day, with supermaxi Wild Oats XI a hot tip to take a sixth line honors win.

The weather forecast suggests the 77-strong fleet will face a headwind when they sail out of Sydney Harbour Wednesday on the 628-nautical mile course down southeastern Australia.

But this should fade as tail winds blow in to speed the boats across the Bass Strait and on to Hobart, capital of the island state of Tasmania.

“On the first night, the winds will lighten off a bit and will back around from the southeast to the northeast,” Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Michael Logan told AFP.

“It looks like on the second day, those northeasterly winds will freshen up quite a lot making for some faster downwind sailing.” Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards said Monday that his boat’s 2005 race record was up for grabs.

“For all of us it’s just going to be pedal to the metal,” Richards told a news conference.

“Don’t back off, push off as fast as you can and hopefully sail the shortest course possible and the rest is in the hands of the gods.”

His navigator Adrienne Cahalan said the forecast was ideal.

“Every Hobart sailor dreams about a southerly on Christmas Day, so it’s a very exciting forecast for us,” she said.

“If you use the computer and run the forecasts, Wild Oats has a chance on record pace,” she said, noting “a few transition zones we are going to have to deal with.”

Wild Oats XI holds the record of one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds set seven years ago. Ragamuffin-Loyal and Lahana are also in the betting.