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Twentynine boats retire from rugged Rolex Sydney Hobart

Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race - Twentynine boats retire from rugged Rolex Sydney Hobart
10:09:00 PM AEDT-(27-12-2004) As the leading boats in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race tonight head across a wind and waveswept Bass Strait towards the north-eastern tip of Tasmania,† 29 of the smaller boats in the fleet have officially advised the Race Committee that they have retired from the race.

At 5pm this afternoon,† 18 boats had retired while a further dozen or so have taken shelter in Twofold Bay at Eden on the New South Wales South Coast.†† At the end of the 5pm radio position reports (sked) with the fleet,† the total number of retirements had reached 29 out of the original fleet of 116 boats that set sail from Sydney yesterday afternoon.

Among the retirements is the Sydney 38, Hidden Agenda,† which put into Eden with two injured crew members. Both are in Pambula District Hospital, with one, Ben 'Felix' Croucher, from Sydney, suffering a dislocated shoulder.† The other crew member,† as yet un-named, has back injuries.

The Tasmanian yacht, Quality Equipment was also sailing into Eden with an injured crew member, although details are not yet available.

Prominent boats to retire during the day have been Quest Travelscene 66 which Tasmanian yachtsman John Bennetto bought to sail in his 44th Sydney Hobart Race.† Another has been Prime Time, a new Beneteau 44.7,† which had been listed as a potential overall handicap winner.

At the 'sked' the additional retirements included the leading Volvo 60,† Andrew Short Marine,† along with Estate Master, Pretty Fly II, Tilting at Windmills (runner-up in last year's race on IMS corrected times) and veteran Victorian yachtsman Lou Abrahams with his new Sydney 38, Challenge.

Race Committee chairman Tim Cox said another 15 boats had sought refuge in Twofold Bay as the south-westerly change swept up the NSW South Coast.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand supermaxi Konica Minolta has opened up a lead of about six miles over Australia's Skandia as the two 98-footers charged across Bass Strait well to the east of Flinders Island.† By late this evening they should be off the Tasmanian East Coast with about 200 nautical miles to sail to the finish of the 628 nautical mile ocean classic.

Konica Minolta is also leading the IRC handicaps on corrected time as the big boats power away from the bulk of the fleet,

If the strong winds continue,† the first boat should reach Hobart late tomorrow afternoon or early evening.

Source: Peter Campbell

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