30 December 2023
Peccadillo regained the lead overnight and has set up what will be a thrilling race finish as the monohulls chase down the only multihull entrant in the battle for line honours in the 2023 Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race (the Westcoaster).
Despite the softening breezes overnight, Peccadillo surged ahead and is making a run for it down the West Coast of Tasmania, maintaining a steady 10 knots as they prepare for the intensifying winds expected later today.
Ginan, Lord Jiminy and Ryujin are not only battling for a line honours win but are also chasing the prestigious Heemskirk Perpetual Trophy awarded to the best performing boat on AMS handicap.
Peccadillo, skippered by seasoned multihull campaigner Charles Meredith sailing his first Westcoaster and is on track for a fast finish to Hobart.
“Peccadillo is a well-made and manufactured multihull with a very competent crew. David Blake has been sailing offshore for over forty years and Al Bennett has competed in several offshore and Three Peaks Races so is familiar racing in Tasmanian waters.
“We have modified the rig twice and have recently upgraded to a carbon fibre rig and square top mainsail which has improved her stability and performance and has given us twenty per cent more sail area,” said Meredith.
Vertigo, skippered by Tim and Clare Olding, retired from the race early Friday morning following an equipment issue and is making her way to Macquarie Harbour. All are safe onboard.
Behind Peccadillo, the Melbourne to Hobart fleet has split into two distinct groups and while the race is certainly on for line honours there is also plenty of competition further back in the field.
Lord Jiminy, the Class 40 design monohull under skipper Jimmy Oosterweghel, is neck and neck with Ryujin in the lead group of boats and is likely to relish the stronger conditions that have been forecast.
Lord Jiminy took line honours in 2020 and 2021 under previous owner Guillaume Leroux and could make it three wins if the crew can unleash but control the power of this racing machine in the run across the South Coast of Tasmania up to Hobart.
Oosterweghel will be looking to experienced crew like Ashley Bartle who has competed in 19 Westcoaster races and will be key to bringing this boat home at the front of the fleet.
Ginan has consolidated her position in the top group and is shaping up as a strong contender for the prestigious Heemskirk Perpetual Trophy.
Making up the first group is double-handed entry Joker x2, skippered by Grant Chipperfield and Peter Dowdney, the Runnals 39, Jaffa, skippered by Andrew Neeson, and Cadibarra which is sitting 11 nautical miles behind Jaffa.
Dark and Stormy is spearheading the second group and is currently leading on performance handicap but is facing tough competition from Faster Forward. Rounding out the group are Maverick, sailing double-handed, then White Spirit and Alien.
Tobias Swanson, skipper of Dark and Stormy, is keen to see the finish line after retiring from the 50th anniversary race last year and has a special affinity for the race.
“I’ve always wanted to do this race, having lived along the West Coast of Tasmania and around the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. I hope the local knowledge will be an advantage as I have sailed around the area for years,” said Swanson.
Santana, the entry from Newcastle, New South Wales, is at the tail end of the fleet but performing well.
Race Director David Schuller expects the leaders into Hobart late Friday or in the early hours of Saturday morning, with the fleet expecting a cracking ride along the South Coast of Tasmania in the forecast strong westerly air stream.
The Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race is one of the world’s great ocean races providing fierce competition against a backdrop of extraordinary scenery and abundant sea life.
The fleet is carrying trackers enabling race followers to track the action from start to finish. Follow the fleet via Yacht Tracker.
The monohull race record of one day, 17 hours, 28 minutes, and 59 seconds was set by Shortwave in 2008.
The multihull race record of three days, three hours, 35 minutes, and 32 seconds was set by Bagatelle in 1988.
The race is run with the cooperation of the Derwent Sailing Squadron.