Ice Fire not burnt out yet

Land-consigned South Coast yachtsman Peter Tucker hasn't given up hope of Ice Fire taking division honours despite sailing into adverse light winds off the Tasmanian coast.

The downwind flyer surged back into PHS (Performance Handicap System) contention thanks to a strong breeze yesterday, making up for an earlier navigational error in the Sydney to Hobart race.

Despite charting a path 40 nautical miles offshore as most of the fleet hugged the coastline, Ice Fire rebounded to eighth spot (PHS division).

The 24-year-old carbon fibre yacht was last night in 56th position overall after safely negotiating the often treacherous Bass Strait.

Tucker, who made a last-minute call against sailing in his third Sydney to Hobart on Boxing Day due to health reasons, said Ice Fire's crew of 11 hadn't given up hope of arriving at Constitution Dock by early tomorrow morning.

"The first 24 hours they did 122 [nautical] miles in distance," said Tucker, who part-owns the 45-footer with Alan Mather, Thyge Trafford-Jones and Malcolm Griffiths.

"Their average boat speed was about 5.1 knots. Since that particular point we've covered 200 nautical miles and almost doubled our boat speed.

"The target for the boat is 200 miles a day, but we don't often get conditions consistent enough. I believe if they had gone south straight away we would probably have been in around 42nd or 43rd [for line honours]. For an old girl like this that would be a good position."

Tucker said the likely light winds off the Tasmanian coast today would make sailing difficult for Ice Fire, which laboured into Hobart after similar conditions last year.

"That whole east coast of Tasmania is light air and it probably runs out to sea for 60 [nautical] miles or more," he said.

"That's going to be a make or break. Everyone around us is going to sail into that as well, but the lighter boats will handle that better than us.

"We did prepare the boat as best we could and we had a lot of sails repaired. It looks like a patchwork quilt."


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