Photography by Andrea Francolini
Six nautical miles between the top four boats in the PONANT Sydney Noumea Yacht Race is setting up a drag race to the finish line as organisers prepare for a Thursday evening line honours arrival.
Overnight the frontrunners traded places, Mick Martin’s TP52 Frantic moving to the lead and Tony Kirby’s Ker 46 Patrice slipping back to fourth, but still well and truly in the hunt. In between them the Ryckmans’ Welbourn 50 GBP Yeah Baby and Sebastian Bohm’s Rogers 46 Smuggler are well within striking distance of Frantic.
Wednesday’s daily update from Yeah Baby read: “Frantic 4 miles in front and chasing her, 300 nautical-mile to go, we expect the SE trades to increase to 20kts. Now it’s a drag race to the finish.”
A report from Denis Doyle onboard his Cruising division entry Cigale 16 Ariki Tai at 1000hrs AEST said they were in 25-30 knots south east tradewinds, moderate seas and plenty of winter sunshine in the Coral Sea.
Fresher winds and boat speeds of 14-15 knots have moved the 50-footers back into high gear and the IRC overall standings reflect the fact they are skipping away from the smaller boats in the 20-strong fleet.
For the first time the magnificent Eve, Steve Capell’s Swan 65, features in the top five on IRC standings and GBP Yeah Baby is holding onto first place. Ian Edwards’ Dehler 46 Wings still leads PHS overall results.
The tradewinds are set to hang in at 25 knots on Thursday and lighten off on Friday, 8 June, 2018.
In terms of distance to go, just two nautical miles separates the race leaders in the parallel races, the Auckland Noumea race organised by Royal Akarana Yacht Club and the Sydney Noumea race organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. Both long distance races began on Sunday morning, 3 June, following a postponement due to high winds and rough seas offshore in the two countries. The two fleets will use the same finish line, in the vicinity of Port Moselle on the south western New Caledonian coastline.