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by Ian Grant on 30 Dec 2000
South Australian Farr 47 SAP Ausmaid expertly sailed by owner skipper Kevan Pearce, sailing master Roger Hickman and crew have successfully weathered the rugged Tasman Sea.

SAP Ausmaid has been provisionally named as the overall winner of the 2000 Telstra Sydney-Hobart race after she completed the course at 2244 hours last night.

Her Hobart race form of first in 1996 second in 1998 and third last year proved she was on the pace but the crew had to fight against a demanding 500 nautical bash against squalls, rain and steep seas.

As it proved this years Hobart race was no arm chair ride with crews having to tough it out in very cold south to south west winds which gusted to a recorded peak of 60 knots in Storm Bay yesterday.

The strong wind warning conditions had the usual highs and lows with the velocity over the deck creating an intense work load with sail changes in conditions described by some of the crews as equal to and worse than the storm year of 1998.

There is little doubt that it was tough but this failed to prevent the SAP Ausmaid crew from producing a clever race strategy during their marathon 3 days 9 hours 44minutes 43 second struggle against the elements.

When they entered the Derwent River SAP Ausmaid had 'blown' her major rivals Quest and the defending Hobart race champion Yendys away.

This was confirmed when she reached the finish line off Battery Point to claim a provisional race win on corrected time by over two hours from Quest and Yendys.

The performance is a deserved reward for the yachts owner South Australian Kevan Pearce who is in a strong position to become the first Adelaide skipper in 50 years to win one of the World most prestigious ocean racing trophies.

However he and sailing master Hickman will pace the dock today and delay their celebrations until the smaller yachts run out of time at sea.

AFR Midnight Rambler jointly skippered by owners Ed Psaltis of Sydney and Bob Thomas of Mackay, and Bruce Taylor's Sydney 36 Chutzpah from Victoria were abeam of the Freycinet Peninsula at 0300 hours and remain a threat.

But they will need to retain high average boat speed over the final 100 miles they have to sail to spoil the victory celebrations for the SAP Ausmaid crew.

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