A 34-foot yacht dubbed the “maritime version of The Little Engine That Could” is on track to produce a New Year’s Eve fairytale in the Sydney to Hobart with overall victory over its much larger rivals.
On Thursday afternoon, White Bay 6 Azzurro was sitting on top of the handicap ladder and is the current favourite to take out the Tattersall Cup.
To complete a famous victory, skipper Shane Kearns must get to Constitution Dock by 7.05am on Friday.
“We are on course to Tasman Island and doing 7 knots. We are very confident of reaching the finish line by 7.04am tomorrow morning,” Kearns said on Thursday.
The feat would be extra significant given the number of retirements by smaller yachts this year. Overall, 37 of the 88 boats which left Sydney have pulled out of the race as dangerous conditions wreaked havoc.
If Kearns can pilot White Bay 6 Azzurro to Constitution Dock in time, he will steal the Tattersall Cup from either Celestial or Ichi Ban.
Celestial crossed the finish line just minutes ahead of handicap favourite Ichi Ban in the corrected overall standings, but the latter lodged a protest on Wednesday night.
An international jury is set to meet on Thursday night to hear the two protests against Celestial, which allege the boat could not be contacted on radio for a 90-minute period.
Race rules state “all boats shall maintain a continuous listening watch on CH16 for the duration of the race” which was the basis of both protests.
Contact was eventually made after flares were used to get the crew’s attention.
“It is expected that this incident will be fully highlighted and explained by Celestial in the race declarations nothing any notables and/or extraordinary reason to why [the rule] was not complied with,” the race organisers protest said. The hearing will take place via Zoom from Tasmania at 6pm AEDT.
Ichi Ban skipper Mat Allen kept his cards close to his chest when asked why he was flying a protest on arrival to Constitution Dock.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald