>Rolex Sydney Hobart Update #2

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(Above weather map a few days after the start, looking like lots of upwind, but weather maps are changing rapidly.)

“Sea-hold Perie Banou 2 will be potent upwind and in out-right storm conditions with triple-nonstop solo circumnavigator- Jon Sanders…” The article below was just published this morning, will keep you updated.

A first night battle for survival is on the cards for the Rolex Sydney Hobart with stomach churning seas, bone-jarring waves and boat-breaking conditions forecast as the multi-million-dollar fleet sails south.

The 100-strong fleet lining up in the 65th edition of the race looks set to be pummelled by winds up to 30-knots as yachts ranging in size from 33 to 100 feet long smash into steep, nasty seas at the beginning of the trek south.

The conditions indicate a high attrition rate in the early stages of the 638-nautical-mile race could result but later see the survivors revelling in the adrenalin rush of downwind sailing across Bass Strait under spinnaker.

“In those conditions (on the first day) it will be survival of the fittest,” said Wild Oats skipper Mark Richards, the man who has steered the super maxi to all four record line honors victories in the race with a worldwide reputation as one of the most challenging ocean races on the calander.

“It will be very uncomfortable for everyone,” said Neville Crichton, skipper of the New Zealand 100-footer Alfa Romeo, also considered a major contender for the line honors.

“We expect to get a hammering that first day and night and will have to nurse the boats in that stuff.”

Weather guru Roger Badham has forecast the worst of the upwind conditions to be soon after the noon start of the race on Boxing Day with 20-knots of sou’easterly on the harbour and up to 30-knots offshore. “The sea-state will be pretty horrible,” he said.

One of the few crews rubbing their hands in glee at yesterday’s weather update was skipper Mike Slade and his team on the UK line honors heavy-weight ICAP Leopard.

Rival Crichton said the forecast for the first day as it currently stands will suit the 100-footer which this year won both the Fastnet and Middle Sea races in Europe.

“This will favor Leopard. She is very comfortable upwind and reaching,” said Crichton.

Slade said he will wait until closer to the day to get too excited but was happy with the early forecast yesterday. “We certainly like a bit of wind,” he said.

Wild Oats, Alfa Romeo, ICAP Leopard, Ivestec Loyal and the US yacht Rapture are the five 100-foot yachts on the Boxing Day start line.

The 98-footer Etihad Stadium Wild Thing, in a battle to have a replacement mast stepped into the boat in time for Boxing Day, is also expected to race along with the Sydney super maxi Lahana and the 90-footer YuuZoo.

– The Gold Coast Bulletin- Tuesday, December 22, 2009

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