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Rolex Sydney Hobart - Race leader Comanche retires then rejoins race

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com on 26 Dec 2015
Comanche (USA) - 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race start, Sydney Harbour Michael Chittenden
The US supermaxi, Comanche (Kristy Hinz and Jim Clark) was reported to have been forced out of the Rolex Sydney Hobart with a broken rudder, and damaged daggerboard.

The incident occurred about an hour after the race leader had been hit by a southerly front which she appeared to pass through in good shape.

However after sailing for approximately 30 minutes towards Sydney at 6kts, she then called Race Control saying that her crew were attempting to effect repairs and would rejoin the race.

The message was relayed from the radio relay vessel JBW to Sydney Hobart Race Control saying that JBW had received a phone call from Comanche saying they 'wished to withdraw their retirement and were attempting repairs and wished to continue racing'.

At approximately 2330hrs AEDT, Comanche changed course and headed back towards Hobart sailing gingerly at a speed of just under 5kts. Thirty minutes later it appeared the repairs had been effective as her speed had improved to 9.5kts and she was maintaining her 1nm lead over Rambler 88.

Earlier at 2300hrs EDT the yacht reported to race control that she had broken a rudder and daggerboard and was retiring to Sydney, having covered 135nm of the 605nm course.

The battle for first to Hobart is now expected to be contested between Comanche (USA), Rambler 88 (USA) and Ragamuffin 100 (AUS).

Ragamuffin 100 seemed to have issues as the front hit, according to the race tracker she headed east for a time and then resuming her course for Hobart. Ramble 88 seems to be the only front runner to have survived the onset of the front without major issues. Perpetual Loyal got th4rogh the initial stages of the front, but around midnight she too seemed to be heading back to Sydney.

At the point of her return to the race Comanche led by just over 1nm from Rambler 100. The second placed Rambler was sailing at almost double the speed of the stricken Comanche and was expected to hit the lead with an hour. But that situation changed again as Comanche came up to her proper speed, and the race for line honours took another twist.

Conditions are expected to ease in daylight, when Comanche will be able to better assess their options.
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