Newcastle yacht Frantic was sitting 20th on handicap and 25th on line honours at 8pm Wednesday after a strong start to the Sydney to Hobart.
Mick Martin’s TP52 Donovan, which sails out of the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, has a mostly Novocastrian crew. It is back in the race under the control of owner-skipper Martin after two years as a chartered boat to South Korean crews.
Newcastle’s other entrant, Dare Devil, was 45th on line honours and 60th on handicap at the same time. However, owner-skipper Sibby Ilzhofer’s Farr/Cookson 47 was sixth on the Corinthian division standings.
The handicap battle has been thrown wide open, according to Matt Allen, the skipper of the boat striving to become the first back-to-back winner in 54 years.
Allen's 52-foot Ichi Ban has won the vast majority of major Australian east coast races over the last year since its 2017 Sydney to Hobart triumph.
Earlier in the week Allen was confident the winner would come from the the mid-range boats around Ichi Ban's length. But he felt it had opened up to a greater variety of yachts, following the latest weather forecast of a fast start with trickier lighter conditions later in the race, turning it into a tactical battle rather than one based on boat speed. Ichi Ban was a narrow second on handicap on Wednesday night.
"The weather conditions have really been slowing down for the entire fleet," Allen said Wednesday morning. "We are really concerned that the transition we are going to get tomorrow and the 28th is really going to slow the whole fleet.
"So we might be the favourite with the odds, but I think it is really wide open for the overall winner of this year's race.”
"It is going to be really hard work. Tonight will be really fast and it will slow down eventually.
"But then through the course of tomorrow it is going to be about people avoiding the areas of no wind.
"And there is going to be lots of areas of no wind on this race track right across the whole fleet.
"It is going to be (about) trying to keep the boats moving through the early hours of the morning right across the 27th and 28th.
"I think the leaderboard is going to change a lot through the course of this race."
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