While the super maxis, with their speed, professional crews and costly fit-outs take the lions share of attention in the Sydney to Hobart, dozens of smaller boats are still racing for the Tattersall Cup, awarded to the boat that finishes first overall.
Yesterday evening the fleet was spread out between Hobart and the Bass Strait. And Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commodore Paul Billingham, whose club hosts the race, said the bluewater classic remained an open contest last night.
The overall winner is unlikely to be known before this afternoon, as race organisers wait for smaller competitors with better handicaps to finish. Each boats time will be adjusted by their handicap to give a final finishing time in a process that is intended to give any boat a chance of winning the Hobart.
The handicap is calculated according to a complex mathematical formula crafted in the UK, which takes into account most aspects of each boats design.
Alive, one of the few Tasmanian entries, finished the race yesterday afternoon in good time to set a benchmark for the rest of the fleet. Its crew face a nervous wait to see if the other yachts still sailing overtake it, which on yesterday evenings standings, is likely. Wild OatsX, skippered by Volvo Ocean Race veteran Stacey Jackson and crewed entirely by women, also finished yesterday just off Alives time, putting it out of contention.
Among the overall honours contenders still racing are Ichi Ban, skippered by Sailing Australia president Matt Allen, and veteran sailor Bruce Taylors perennial competitor, Chutzpah.
Ichi Ban is hoping to be the first boat to win back-to-back overall honours in more than 50 years.
From overseas Privateer, a New York entry, is also in the mix along with local NSW yacht Smuggler.
The weather remains a wildcard. Billingham said winds were predicted to remain fairly strong along the east coast of Tasmania today, giving yachts still racing a boost.
With the fast boats finishing today, having raced through light to moderate winds, only the boats still on the water will benefit from the forecast better sailing weather.
The race for overall honours has been chaotic, with numerous yachts taking the lead over the course of the race as winds picked up and slackened. On its journey south, Ichi Ban has seesawed between the lead and as far back as 32nd place.
Meanwhile, 2 Unlimited broke its rudder after hitting a sunfish and was forced to retire from the race. Last year Hollywood Boulevard struck a sunfish on the way back from Hobart.
Nick is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Most Viewed in Sport