LawConnect looms as the boat to chase in the battle for Sydney to Hobart race line honours, with expected strong southerlies on the first night potentially giving it an edge over the other two supermaxis.
Crews from the 93-boat fleet were given the latest weather forecast on Friday along with details of the COVID protocols upon arriving in Tasmania, where they will have to wait a little longer than usual to hit dry land.
The Bureau of Meteorology forecast winds of around 15 to 20 knots come start time on Boxing Day afternoon, with the possibility of some thunderstorm activity offshore.
South to south-easterly winds of 15 to 25 knots possibly getting up to 30, are forecast for later on Sunday, with the potential for strong wind warnings.
“We love a hard southerly to start with because that’s our best conditions,” LawConnect skipper and owner Christian Beck said.
“It perhaps gives us an ability to get out a little bit into the wind.
“Obviously, we don’t want any boats to break, but our boat has bashed through so much of that stuff, it’s pretty unlikely to break.”
David Witt, skipper of Hong Kong supermaxi SHK Scallywag 100, suggested the key to line honours success would be striking the right balance on how hard to push the boats in heavy conditions, with the risk of suffering race-ending damage.
“100-footers don’t like to go upwind in 25 to 30 knots, so I think you’ve got to stay in the race for the first 24 hours, thats probably the biggest part and then see what happens,” Witt said.
“In the first part of the race you can put the pedal down and lead and break and you’re out.
“You don’t put the pedal enough, you are too far behind.”
Lighter more variable breezes forecast for Monday evening and Tuesday would favour the third supermaxi, Black Jack, representing Monaco.
“It favours LawConnect for sure the first night, beyond that it goes right to our wheelhouse,” Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford said.
“It’s a little bit like the hare and the tortoise so LawConnect will probably lead through the first night.
“And the rest of us will be trying to hang on and then boat breakages could be a big deal on the first night.”
Crew members have been advised to ensure they can be reached by NSW Health if they should be identified as a COVID-19 close contact while on their way to Tasmania.
This will ensure they can take any required precautions on arrival in Tasmania, such as testing or quarantine.
Each yacht owner had to make a declaration in the days before departure that all their crew have been approved to travel, and have provided the required vaccination and testing evidence via Tas e-Travel.
Before leavng the boat on arrival in Hobart, each crew member will have to complete a rapid antigen test and the owner must complete a declaration that all crew members have returned a negative result.
If a crew member tests positive it will be advised through the declaration and that person will get a PCR test and isolate, potentially in a hotel room, until a result is received.