|HOBART, 8:51:00 AM AEDT-(28-12-2004) The two supermaxis, Skandia and Konica Minolta, are now out of the 60th anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, with the New Zealand 98-footer Konica Minolta reporting to Race Control that it had retired from the race at 7.45am today.
Stewart Thwaites’ Konica Minolta had opened up a commanding lead this morning after the 2.00am retirement of archrival Skandia with its canting keel jammed to starboard.
Konica Minolta advised Race Control that it had suffered minor structural damage. At the time she was tacking down the Tasmanian East Coast south of St Helens and about 12 nautical miles ahead of Nicorette, skippered by Ludde Ingvall.
Ingvall told the Rolex Media Centre in Hobart this morning that the Simonis-designed 90-footer was 60 nautical miles north of Tasman Island and expected to lead the fleet home in about 14 hours time – before midnight tonight.
“We are trying to take it easy and not break anything,” he said. “Just one bad wave can finish the race for anyone, whether the boat is old or new.”
Ingvall expressed concern for the crew on the two retired supermaxis, and hoped that no one had been injured on boats that been forced to retire. “It’s not the way you want to win a yacht race,” he added.
Konica Minolta is one of the latest retirement from the 116 boats that set sail from Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day, another casualty of the heavy weather that has been battering the fleet for the last 26 hours.
In addition to Konica Minolta and Skandia, other retirements include Indec Merit and Stratcorp Ninety Seven, while another 20 boats are sheltering in Twofold Bay at Eden.
The weather has shown no signs of abating, with the Bureau of Meteorology this morning issuing a gale warning for eastern Bass Strait and for the entire East Coast of Tasmania. South-west winds of over 40 to 45 knots, at times 50 knots, have been forecast for today with seas rising to 4 to 6 metres offshore, possibly 7 metres later in the day.