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The Ocean Race stars take plaudits in Hobart

by Jonno Turner 29 Dec 2019 14:35 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

The famous race, which has become an iconic part of the Australian sporting calendar, sees some of the world's best sailors depart Sydney on Boxing Day, for one of sailing's most tactically testing events.

Comanche, the 100 foot super maxi, took line honours in the race with a crew featuring five sailors from the 2017-18 edition of The Ocean Race - and completing the 628-nautical mile course in just 1 day, 18 hours, 30 minutes and 24 seconds.

Daryl Wislang, Louis Sinclair, Kyle Langford, Pablo Arrarte, Tom Johnson and Stu Bannatyne all helped Comanche to the win in a tight race for the line. The Ocean Race winning skipper Mike Sanderson, and legendary navigator Stan Honey, were also onboard.

In second place, Infotrack, finishing some 45 minutes after the leaders, also featured a range of The Ocean Race experience, including Lucas Chapman, Alex Gough, Tony Mutter, Chris Nicholson, Antonio Cuervas-Mons (Ñeti), Brad Jackson, Guillermo Altadill and Mustafa Ingham. Two-time Ocean Racer Curtis Blewett; Mitch White, who raced in 2005-06 on Brunel, and Carlos Hernández (MAPFRE, 2014-15) also featured.

The battle for a final podium place raged, with Wild Oats XI and SHK Scallywag going bow-to-bow, with less than a minute splitting them after almost two days of racing.

Wild Oats XI, with the tactical nous and experience of MAPFRE navigator Juan Vila onboard, pipped David Witt's Scallywag to third place by just 38 seconds.

It marked Witt's 24th Sydney to Hobart Race, and this is the testing environment in which he has chalked out a reputation as one of the sport's finest heavy weather sailors.

Scallywag led the fleet for much of Friday, before hitting something overnight and slipping down the rankings.

"We're really, really disappointed because it's probably the best the team has ever sailed. I've never been so upset with a result in my life," said Witt.

Two-time Ocean Race winner Phil Harmer, plus 2017-18 Scallywags Ben Piggott, Luke Parkinson and Trystan Seal and Pete Cummings joined Witt onboard for the Race.

Meanwhile, Rob Greenhalgh, who has raced The Ocean Race five times, was onboard Ichi Ban - skippered by Gordon Maguire and navigated by Will Oxley - as it won on IRC rated corrected time.

From the spectacular start in Sydney Harbour, the fleet sails out into the Tasman Sea, down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait (which divides the mainland from the island State of Tasmania), then down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turns right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to the historic port city of Hobart.

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