American supermaxi, Comanche, has won the 71st Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
The US favourite crossed the line at Constitution Dock in Hobart at 10pm (AEST) on Monday evening with a time of two days, eight hours, 58 minutes and 30 seconds.
It is well outside the 2012 record by eight-time Sydney to Hobart winner Wild Oats XI who finished the race in 1 day, 18 hours and 23 minutes.
This is the second time that the $15 million Comanche — co-owned by Texan billionaire Jim Clark and his wife, Australian supermodel Kristy Hinze-Clark, and skippered by Ken Read — has participated in the Sydney to Hobart after finishing second in its debut last year.
Comanche was nearly forced to withdraw from the race and turn back after strong gusts severely damaged the rudder and daggerboard on Saturday. But the yacht’s crew members decided to stay in the race and repair the damages to the steering system whilst out at sea.
“There was a bunch of emotions that went on: pure terror at one stage, excitement,” said Hinze-Clark following the race.
“Now just total joy and fulfilment, I mean, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
Australia’s Ragamuffin took second place with a time of two days, 19 hours and 48 minutes, finishing ahead of America’s 88-foot Rambler by a few seconds.
Around 32 of the 108 yachts in the Sydney to Hobart had pulled out of the race by Monday due to damage caused by strong winds.
Of these were Australian yacht Victoire after its skipper, Darryl Hodgkinson, suffered broken ribs during a fall, Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal as well as the first all-Chinese entrant Ark323.
The annual Sydney to Hobart event spanning 630 nautical miles is one of the world’s biggest offshore yacht races but has been known to be extremely dangerous in severe weather conditions with the 1998 Sydney-to-Hobart going down as the deadliest in Australian sailing history.
Here’s a look back at Comanche’s race journey.
The 100ft American supermaxi took an early lead against eight-time Sydney to Hobart winner, Wild Oats XI, in the 71st Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
Owned by Netscape billionaire Jim Clark, Comanche was designed to be “the fasted boat ever built”. It made its debut at last year’s Sydney to Hobart where it took out second place behind Wild Oats XI.
It was a shock when Wild Oats XI was forced to turn back after it was hit by a southerly front with gusts reaching up to 40 knots.
Shortly after, American favourite Comanche also decided to retire after it suffered damage to its rudder and daggerboard. Although it came close to withdrawing, the crew members opted to stay in the race as they continued to make repairs on board the yacht.
The yacht crossed the line off Constitution Dock in Hobart at 10pm local time on Monday evening.
Comanche took two days, eight hours and 58 minutes to complete the 628 nautical mile journey from Sydney to Hobart.
The last time an American yacht won the race was in 1998.
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