Black Jack maintains lead in Sydney to Hobart race as rough seas force others out

Queensland supermaxi Black Jack leads the Sydney to Hobart off the coast of southern New South Wales at the start of the yacht race's second day.

Sydney to Hobart

As of 6:30am AEDT

Line honours:

1 — Black Jack 

2 — LawConnect

3 – SHK Scallywag


1 — Alive

2 — Celestial

3 — Khaleesi

Racing under the flag of the Yacht Club de Monaco, skipper Mark Bradford has Black Jack hugging the coastline, while rival LawConnect navigates the southerly winds further out to sea.

Supermaxi LawConnect was one of the pre-race favourites and held the lead on the opening day until passed .

LawConnect won line honours in the 2016 edition, racing as Perpetual Loyal.

The 80-footer Stefan Racing, supermaxi SHK Scallywag and the 66-footer Alive lead the rest of the fleet.

The Hong Kong-based Scallywag has managed to keep going despite sail problems on day one, with the team tweeting that is "still in the mix after making up lost ground and recovering from a J2 tack fitting issue".

A strong southerly wind reaching up to 30 knots has forced 21 boats to retire, reducing the fleet from 88 to 66 boats.

Racing under the flag of the Yacht Club de Monaco, Black Jack hugged the New South Wales coastline overnight.(Supplied: Black Jack Yachting)

Tasmanian yacht Alive is the latest yacht to retire, citing hull damage.

Among the other retired boats are Moneypenny with a broken forestay, Blink, Mako Hip-Nautic, Minerva and Mille Sabords with a damaged main, No Limit due to a crew member dislocating their shoulder, White Noise with window damage and Zen with a minor injury.

Moneypenny's owner Sean Langman said breaking the forestay wasn't "ideal".

"We were doing quite a bit of short tacking and there was a bit of current and the seas were up," he said.

Eora was one of the two-handers to retire overnight.

"Let's say it was pretty fruity. We were using new technology with foils. We had faith in the new system, I suppose you learn from this."

In the two-handed category, Tasmanian yacht Sidewinder, sailed by Rob Gough and John Saul, is leading the fleet, which has been reduced to 15.

Two yachts retired overnight in the rough conditions, Eora with a broken backstay and Hip-Nautic with a damaged mainsail.

Sydney to Hobart yacht race explained

Dismissed by some as "rich people and their toy boats", the Sydney to Hobart yacht race is actually a gruelling test of skill, teamwork and boat design.

Read more

It's the first year the two-handed category has been held.

Comanche's 2017 race record of one day, 9 hours, 15 minutes, 24 seconds, is not under threat.

The boats have been racing for more than 17 hours.

Follow the competitors with the GPS race tracker

The race has returned this year after COVID-19 forced its cancellation last year, but the pandemic has still had an impact.

Black Jack held its own against race leader LawConnect after the race start on Sydney Harbour.(Getty Images: Mark Evans)

Three positive COVID-19 cases were detected among the crew of Willow. The yacht's owner, Jim Cooney, said on Sunday his crew were awaiting the results of two other tests.

Another yacht, Maverick 49, was also withdrawn by owner Quentin Stewart. 

Stewart told organisers that while COVID-19 has not been detected in his crew, he did not want to take the risk of exposing his crew to the virus.

Sydney to Hobart trophies; left, the John H Illingworth Challenge Cup for line honours winner, and right, Tattersall Cup, the trophy for the overall win, as determined by handicap.(Rolex Sydney Hobart)Want more Tasmanian news?

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