Protest rocks Sydney to Hobart: LawConnect (605.7nm from the finish) led from AndooComanche and SHK Scallywag as of 3:30pm with the leaders heading well off-shore to pick up heavier winds.
There was early drama in the 78th Sydney to Hobart with two of the main contenders involved in an angry exchange.
2PM TUESDAY – DRAMATIC START INCLUDING PROTEST
Protest rocks Sydney to Hobart: LawConnect then had trouble putting up its big sail forcing it to jibe away from the lead handing the ascendancy to Andoo Comanche, who is defending line honours.
LawConnect, the Big Boat Challenge winners, took the early honours to lead early from Teasing Machine, Andoo Comanche and Wild Thing after a heavy downpour in Sydney Harbour cleared for the 1pm starter’s cannon.
The lead swapped again shortly after but not before an explosive moment between Scallywag and Andoo Comanche.
Dramatic vision showed the two boats coming within a few feet of each other with the latter claiming their rival tacked too late, prompting Andoo Comanche to throw a protest flag.
ABC reported ‘colourful language’ was exchanged between the two boats.
Andoo Comanche Sailing Master Iain Murray was not impressed with the incident when asked about it on Seven’s coverage.
“It’s a classic port-and-starboard (incident). That’s too close (from Scallywag),” he said.
“You can’t do that with 100-footers. We’ll see.”
The controversy allowed Scallywag to sail clear into first place and be first out of the Heads, ahead of Andoo Comanche in second and LawConnect in third.
Earlier the Bureau of Meteorology predicted that potentially dangerous weather could mar this year’s Sydney to Hobart race, which gets underway on Boxing Day.
Rain, strong winds, low visibility and even hail is expected to hit parts of the course, including the Bass Strait crossing, due to a rain-bearing low pressure system impacting the southeast.
Competitors have been advised to prepare for changing conditions throughout the event, with plenty of upwind sailing and winds coming from different directions.
The fleet left the dock at the CYCA well ahead of the 1pm race start with sailors nervous for what lay ahead.
“You’d think after so many races you wouldn’t be nervous but you are,’’ Alive navigator Adrienne Cahalan said.,
“This forecast is a tough one. It will be like a chess game.’’
During Sunday’s briefing, a race official warned participants that they “strongly recommended to take your sea sick tablets in your grab bag’’.
HK Scallywag skipper David Witt declared: “Pack another set of thermal gear. It’ll be cold.”
The 78th edition of the 1163km race, one of Australia’s most famous sporting events, began the day with a fleet of 103.
The course record was set by LDV Comanche in 2017, completing the race in 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds. Last year’s winners Comanche, who is tipped as one of the favourite this year’s race finished in one day, 11 hours, 56 minutes and 48 seconds, the second-fastest time for any Sydney to Hobart victors.
Australians can watch the race on 7mate with coverage starting at 12.30pm AEDT, while ABC TV is providing in-race news footage.
WHEN DOES IT START?
At 1pm AEDT on Boxing Day (December 26). 12pm in Brisbane, 12:30pm in Adelaide, 11:30am in Darwin and 10am in Perth.
- 2022 Andoo Comanche (NSW)
- 2021 Black Jack (Monaco)
- 2019 Comanche (NSW)
- 2018 Wild Oats (NSW)
- 2017 LDV Comanche (NSW)
- 2016 Perpetual LOYAL (NSW)
- 2015 Comanche (NSW)
- 2014 Wild Oats XI (NSW)
- 2013 Wild Oats XI (NSW)
- 2012 Wild Oats XI (NSW)
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