Triumph and adventure in Hobart classic

SAILING

Wollongong yacht Black Sheep is on track for a top 10 finish in its division of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

The yacht skippered by Wollongong Yacht Club’s Derek Sheppard successfully navigated difficult conditions in Bass Strait on Saturday and late yesterday was in eighth place and within striking distance of IRC division three rivals Papillon Mille Sabords and Balance.

At current speed she is expected to arrive at Constitution Dock at around 10pm.

Fellow Wollongong yacht St Jude, skippered by Noel Cornish, is also on track to finish in the top 10 in the IRC division two class but will need to make up some time on nearest rival Jazz Player today.

St Jude was tracking 17 nautical miles south-east of Maria Island yesterday afternoon and  was on schedule to finish at around 9pm in just over four days.

Battered and broken Sydney to Hobart yachts were limping to ports along the race route as the contenders for overall honours began to emerge.

Five boats quit the race and a crew member suffered a broken leg after a night of wild south-westerly gales in Bass Strait and along the Tasmanian coast.

Winds of 40 knots, with stronger gusts, and seas of up to five metres pummelled the back end of the fleet.

Crewman Ben Renshaw suffered a broken leg on board 14-metre Victorian boat Rush.

It diverted to Coles Bay on Tasmania’s east coast, where a dinghy was being organised to take the injured man to an ambulance.

The boat was expected to race on.

Queensland yacht Wedgetail motored into Hobart late on Sunday afternoon, with its snapped mast clearly visible. Off Tasmania’s north-east coast, NSW 10.5-metre boat Luna Sea was being towed to St Helens by the Tasmania Police launch Van Diemen after losing its rudder off Flinders Island.

Brand new overall fancy Patrice (hull damage) was headed to Orford, WA’s Black Adder (unspecified damage) to Eden and Clipper Round the World race leader Henri Lloyd (rudder) took the total number of retirees to nine.

NSW 15-metre Victoire led the overall standings, while Wild Oats XI won line honours on Saturday evening, followed by Perpetual LOYAL and Ragamuffin.

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