MELBOURNE – Arch Rival holds the whip hand in what is shaping as a four-way battle for line honours in the Melbourne to Launceston yacht race.
Nanjing Night Net

After more than seven hours of racing yesterday, the John Hall-skippered Arch Rival from the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron held a lead of three nautical miles from Merlion and Vivacite.

Dark and Stormy was in fourth place having taken a more westerly route than the rest of the fleet.

Deja Vu was best placed in the contest for overall handicap honours in Australia’s oldest ocean race.

The first yachts are expected in Launceston some time between noon and 2pm today.

The Melbourne to Hobart eastcoaster and westcoaster races also got underway in perfect conditions at Portsea yesterday.

The Brian Patinson-skippered Gusto – the winner of the lead-up Boxing Day Dash race – had opened up a lead of more than five nautical miles in the eastcoaster race ahead of Goldfinger.

Extasea was holding a similar lead in the line honours contest of the westcoaster race, with Addiction and Tevake II leading the chasing pack.

Race spokesman John Curnow said last night shaped as a crucial period in all three races, with winds expected to drop right off by the end of the week.

There were no withdrawals in the opening seven hours.

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