Perpetual LOYAL is on track to beat the Sydney Hobart yacht race record.
Anthony Bell’s yacht was late today leading the fleet and sailing within the current race record time of 1 day, 18 hours and 23 minutes.
Late this afternoon she was 170 nautical miles from the finish and travelling at a consistent 20 knots.
The result won’t be known until sometime Wednesday morning.
The current holder of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race record and line honours favourite Wild Oats XI was forced to retire today after keel damage on the approach to the north-east coast of Flinders Island in eastern Bass Strait.
The frontrunners have negotiated Bass Strait and are making rapid progress down the east coast of Tasmania on route to the finish in Hobart.
Bell is now on target to claim a second line honours success, having triumphed with a previous version of LOYAL in 2011.
Perpetual LOYAL, and her closest pursuers, are on course to arrive significantly within the race record time, possibly by as much as seven hours.
Second and 18 nautical miles behind the leader was Jim Delegat’s New Zealand entry Giacomo, seeking to become the first non 100 foot yacht to claim line honours since 2004.
Another 70 footer, Maserati, is in third place.
On corrected time, Giacomo is leading the fleet in the quest for the race’s most coveted prize, overall victory on handicap.
“We’re feeling real good. We’re powering along,” said Giacomo’s sailing master Steve Cotton mid-afternoon.
“We’re approaching Tasmania in 20 to 24 knots of easterly wind, and the boat really likes this angle. We’re pushing really hard.”
As well as Wild Oats XI, three other yachts — Dare Devil, Freyja and Patrice — have retired from the race. 84 yachts are still sailing.
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