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Comanche claims Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race line honours

by RSHYR Media 27 Dec 2019 15:46 PST
Comanche made the final dash to the Rolex Sydney Hobart finish line contending with fickle breeze ahead of the other four super maxis. © Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

This morning at 07:30:24 hrs, race record holder Comanche beat her four super maxi rivals to take line honours in the 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 75th running of the 628-nautical-mile blue water classic.

Comanche controversially took line honours and the race record in 2017 after Wild Oats XI was penalised over a port and starboard incident with Comanche and lost both titles. This time, Jim Cooney and his wife Samantha Grant’s 100 footer took line honours cleanly from her rivals, but well outside her record of 1 day 9 hrs 15 mins 24 secs, finishing in one day 18 hours 30 minutes 24 seconds. It was known before the race that the record would not be under threat.

Cooney steered his Sydney-based super maxi over the Castray Esplanade finish line in Hobart after taking command of the race during yesterday morning. Comanche did not relinquish from that point, although Seng Huang Lee’s SHK Scallywag (Hong Kong) came very close at one point.

In the end, it came down to Comanche and Christian Beck’s InfoTrack. In the early hours of this morning, the latter trailed the leader by 20 nautical miles, but in the closing stages narrowed it to 7nms. Black Jack was another 8nms in arrears.

Comanche was flying up the Derwent under full main and code zero, her boat speed still in double digits, the world her oyster. But with 3nms to go, the wind lightened off and she was struggling to move, a crew member sent up the mast to look for breeze. But back it came, and she was able to keep moving.

Navigated by Stan Honey, with Mike Sanderson and Mitch Booth working on strategy, the well-credentialed trio took the yacht offshore yesterday while her compatriots sailed closer to the rhumbline. The move paid off, as the wind was in the east, meaning the big wide boat kept sailing fast downwind, angled for the corner of Tasmania when the predicted north-easterly returned.

The crew on Christian Beck’s InfoTrack (NSW) threw all they had at Comanche, but they could not consistently match the boat speed of the leader.

Comanche took line honours for the first time in 2015, under previous owners Jim & Kristy Clark beating Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 to the punch, but she was pipped for second over the line by Black Jack last year, while Wild Oats XI claimed her ninth line honours victory.

In a thriller that kept all sailing fans riveted throughout the 628-nautical-mile race, the five super maxis sliced and diced, with all barring Wild Oats XI taking their turn at leading the now 154-strong fleet.

Comanche is the newest of the five yachts, built in 2014 and dubbed the aircraft carrier due to her girth.

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