American Yacht Comanche, with Australian connections wins epic ocean race.
A dramatic finale to Australia’s Sydney to Hobart sailing race saw the American yacht Comanche mount an unlikely comeback to claim victory.
The race was held in terrible weather conditions, with almost a third of the yachts forced to retire.
Comanche’s victory came despite serious damage caused by hitting a submerged object.
The two-day race is considered one of the world’s toughest. It pits amateur sailors against professional crews.
Skipper Ken Read said at one point he considered retiring from the race but decided to attempt running repairs on the damaged boat.
“I’ve sailed around the world two and a half times and I thought I’d seen it all but that is one really tough body of water.
“The people who have done this race something like 25 times, God bless ’em, either they’re the dumbest people on earth or the hardest people on earth.
“Probably a combination of the two,” he told ABC News.
Organisers say this year’s was event was one of the toughest of recent years. The conditions forced 32 of the 108 entries to retire, with high winds shredding sails and breaking one ship’s mast.
Comanche co-owner Kristy Clark, the first female owner to win the race, was also a crew member. She said she felt “pure terror at one stage”.
The 100-foot (30-metre) yacht crossed the line 50 nautical miles ahead of its nearest competitor, Rambler.
Australian boat Ragamuffin has made a late move to finish second in the Sydney to Hobart, holding out eager American entry Rambler by a matter of seconds.
Syd Fischer’s super maxi overtook her rival as the pair made a slow approach up the Derwent River on Tuesday morning, relying on an uninspired breeze and a turning tide which was trying to push them back out to sea.In a post on their Facebook page, Team Ragamuffin described the last few nautical miles as “puff lotto” as both crews looked for wind assistance amid the pond-like conditions.
It was a disappointing outcome for the 88-foot Rambler which was making its Sydney to Hobart debut and traded the lead with winner Comanche on day one before settling in to second place for most of the race. But a decision on Monday to tack close to Tasmania’s east coast saw Rambler lose speed and initial indications they would finish on Monday night were blown out.
Ragamuffin finished in an unofficial time of two days, 19 hours and 48 minutes.It comes after US supermaxi Comanche took the line honours victory on Monday night.
Bruised and battered, the 100-footer crossed the finish line just before 10pm (AEDT) in a time of two days, eight hours, 58 minutes and 30 seconds, well outside the 2012 race record.Each of the lead trio suffered damage en route to Hobart: Comanche lost a dagger board and nursed a damaged rudder, while Ragamuffin and Rambler both had dagger board woes.
Rough conditions throughout day one of racing took its toll on entrants with 31 withdrawals greatly reducing the starting fleet of 108.Defending champion and eight-time winner Wild Oats XI was one of the early retirements, suffering sail damage.
Italian entry Maserati was due to cross the finish line in fourth place by midday (AEDT) on Tuesday.
The top-standings for handicap honours continue to change with most of the main contenders not due to finish until Wednesday.
2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – Comanche creates history
When Comanche crossed the finish line of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race at Castray Esplanade in Hobart, Tasmania, at 9:58:30 hours tonight, history was created, because Kristy Clark became the first female owner to take line honours in the blue water classic.
Kristy, who raced aboard the yacht while co-owner husband Jim stayed ashore, was thrilled to take line honours in her first foray into the race. While the yacht represents the New York Yacht Club in the USA, Kristy is of course, Australian through-and-through.
Jim was on the water to greet the Ken Read skippered Verdier Yacht Design and VPLP yacht as it made its way up the Derwent River to the finish line.
It is the first time, possibly with the exception of the early years, that a boat has retired, her crew sail 30 odd nautical miles back towards Sydney, before deciding to continue on racing and go on to win.
And the locals loved it. As Comanche zigzagged close to shore, trying to find pressure on the River Derwent, at Blackman’s Bay lights were being flashed on and off from hundreds of houses and those in cars at Blackmans Bay Beach flashed their lights on and off, making an unforgettable impression against the last light of the day.
But it was at the dock, where Comanche arrived, that one of the largest crowds in living memory had gathered. There was not a square inch to be had around the piers and wharfs surrounding Hobart where thousands cheered the American victory.
Comanche’s finish was impeded by the breeze which came and went at whim as the yacht rounded the Iron Pot. At one stage she was powering at 15 knots, then down to 8.5 knots. Her finish time of two days nine hours 58 minutes 30 seconds was outside the record of one day 18 hours 23 minutes 12 seconds set by Wild Oats XI in 2012.
But it did not matter. The last American to take line honours in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s race was Larry Ellison’s Sayonara, 17 years ago in the fatal 1998 race, so Comanche’s efforts was quite some achievement, even if their quest of beating Wild Oats XI was not to be.
However, the Oatley family and Wild Oats XI skipper, Mark Richards, were watching back home in Sydney and sent a congratulatory letter to Jim Clark.
Comanche’s highlights to this moment include:
First overall (Elapsed Time division). Voiles St Barts
First overall elapsed, Storm Trysail Block Island Race
Elapsed time record, Storm Trysail Block Island Race
First overall handicap class and fleet, Storm Trysail Block Island Race
First overall elapsed, Rolex Transatlantic Race
24 Hour Monohull Distance Record, 618 miles
First overall elapsed, Rolex Fastnet Race
First overall (Elapsed Time Class), Rolex Maxi Worlds