Jim Clark and Kirsty Hinze-Clark’s super maxi Comanche has taken line honours in the 71st edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. It is the first time in 17 years that the most coveted title in offshore yacht racing has been won by an American team since Larry Ellison’s Sayonara won in 1998.
The 628 nm race displayed outstanding seamanship in tough conditions heading south towards Tasman Island, with the finish in Hobart. Exactly 24 hours after the start in Sydney Harbour, a quarter of the fleet had to retire due to damage that included broken rudders, a dismasting and numerous shredded sails, inflicted by gale force winds and heavy seas during the night.
Comanche. Image courtesy of RSHYR
Even Comanche had its fair share of drama when it hit an unidentified submerged object during the first night, breaking one of the twin rudders and a daggerboard, but was determined to stay in the race. The yacht’s crew of 21 included co-owners Kristy Hinze-Clark and Jim Clark.
“It was really grueling,” says Hinze-Clark describing her first Sydney Hobart. “Pure terror at one stage, excitement and now just total joy. It's one of the best things I've ever done.”
Comanche's owners at the prize giving. Image courtesy of RSHYR
“We will get up and go if the wind is just right,” added Clark, prior to the start of the race. “Any light air is our enemy, that will be the governing factor.”
Built to break records, Comanche debuted in last year’s edition of the race and has since collected some of the most prestigious titles in yachting: setting a new 24-hour monohull distance record; line honours in the New York Yacht Club Transatlantic Race and the Rolex Fastnet Race. Returning to Australia in December, the team achieved the title they narrowly missed out on last year.
Comanche's fellow super maxi, Ragamuffin 100, finished the race in second place.