Tense Moments as Crewman Goes Overboard in Sydney to Hobart Race, Leader Rages On

2022 Sydney To Hobart Race 9 photos
Photo: Bow Caddy Media
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After a tense start to the 77th Rolex Sydney to Hobart offshore yacht race super-maxi LawConnect would lead the fleet of 109 boats out of Sydney Harbor, leaving the crews of Andoo Comanche and Wild Outs seething as a result of having to perform penalty turns just after the start.
Both LawConnect and Black Jack escaped the drama without any penalty, much to the dismay of those aboard rivals Andoo Comanche and Wild Oats, the other two maxis that make up the four-boat maxi fleet.

But Andoo Comanche, the race's record holder, would come storming back under triple headsail to take the lead as the four maxis headed towards Tasmania. The four boats are sailing downwind in breezes ranging from 12 (14 mph) to 15 knots (16 mph) in relatively calm seas. At one point, Andoo Comanche was ahead of its record-setting pace of The Great Race set in 2017.

These 100-foot maxis (30.48 meters) are fast enough to avoid bad weather forecasted for eastern Tasmania later today, but the smaller boats may be in for quite a ride.

In fact, just after midnight, Andoo Comanche declared itself fit to jump over to Tasmania as it passed Green Cape while falling behind its record pace by 27 nautical miles. LawConnect would follow, declaring shortly thereafter, trailing by six nautical miles.

Hamilton Island Wild Oats and Black Jack were very close together roughly five nautical miles astern of LawConnect and declared into Tasmania with Hobart Race Control at 0125hrs.

Black Jack is looking to repeat last year's Line Honours feat of reaching the finish line on the River Derwent first after a battle with LawConnect.

Early morning grey skies gave way to partial sunshine with Andoo Comanche extending its lead over LawConnect to 12 nautical miles ahead of the closely paired Hamilton Island Wild Oats and Black Jack that are within twenty nautical miles of the leader.

Daybreak produced a dramatic moment aboard LawConnect as a crew member went overboard to fix a problem with the jib. He slithered along the jib's sheet to its clew, tethered by a halyard for a few moments before returning to the boat.

The scene was caught on the boat's livestream feed and provided a glimpse as to the problems that can take place during an offshore yacht race.

There may be more to come, but it appears the super-maxis will outrun the expected weather and sea changes. Weather is a huge factor in the race especially as it crosses the entrance to the unpredictable Bass Strait.

In 1998, a 'weather bomb' dumped a depression on the fleet in Bass Strait pummeling them with hurricane-force winds and 80-foot (24.38-meter) waves. In all, six sailors were lost, five boats sunk, and 55 sailors were rescued from the seas.
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