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2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart

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  • 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart

    Comanche, the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winner and race record holder, fought back brilliantly from a slow start in this year’s 75th running of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s race by taking the lead soon after exiting Sydney Heads.

    The super maxi, co-owned by Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant, seemingly laboured for speed from the start compared to her four rivals, but once offshore, her downwind superiority came into play.

    Comanche, third on line honours last year, was fifth out of the heads. First was InfoTrack, and then Wild Oats XI, SHK Scallywag, and Black Jack respectively.

    However, by the time Comanche was sailing abeam of Cronulla, she was the furthest out to sea and leading ahead from InfoTrack, SHK Scallywag, Black Jack and then Wild Oats XI.

    InfoTrack's navigator, Brad Kellett, reported at 1445 hrs, saying: “Comanche has come into her own; she is leading and holding us off.

    “Wild Oats XI and Black Jack have different plans and we are into our own routine. We’re sailing tight downwind at 20 knots of boat speed. We can’t do anything about Comanche. We will just sail to the best of our ability. The race is anyone’s…”

    The start was spectacular. The fleet of 157 set off from four lines on Sydney Harbour in a building 10-15 knot north to nor-easterly breeze. The harbour was awash with spectator boats.

    Meanwhile, as the front runners charged away through lumpy waters and their first night at sea, last out of the Heads was the American 52-footer, Cailin Lomhara. Owned by Larry and Charlene Green, the pair is on a cruise of the world and thought it was an ideal opportunity to join in the 75th race.

    The 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart start was officially declared clear, with no boats breaking their various start lines. There was an early concern though, when the Sydney 47, St Jude, reported she had lost steering.

    However, soon after, Geoff Cropley reported from the Noel Cornish (Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Vice Commodore) owned yacht, that the problem had been resolved.


    After a picture-perfect start with blue skies and a north-easterly breeze, the fleet was able to make good time in the first leg of the race heading south from Sydney Heads.

    InfoTrack made the initial move in the front running pack being the first yacht to make it in to open water, but soon after were reeled back in and overtaken by the current race record holder Comanche.

    As yachts have made their way further down the coast and pass Batemans Bay, the stronger breezes from earlier in the day have subsided with the pace of the fleet slowing dramatically.

    In the race for overall victory, many yachts have shuffled through the top placings of the leader board with the current weather conditions favouring the 40-foot range of yachts. The full list of current standing across all divisions can be found on the TRACKER

    The race suffered two early retirees as yachts made their way south from Sydney Harbour. The current list of retirements are as follows (all crew are safe and well):

    Faster Forward - Steering problems
    Hollywood Boulevard - Broken rudder

    The weather forecast for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has laid the platform for a terrific battle for line honours and overall victory in the 75th edition.

    The Bureau of Meteorology’s Gabrielle Woodhouse confirmed the race start on Sydney Harbour should be in a north to nor-easterly 10-15 knot wind, and that a mild southerly is due later this evening. She also confirmed that smoke haze from bushfires is unlikely.

    The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia event will this year see varying wind shifts throughout the 628-nautical-mile race, but for front-runners such as the five super maxis and other larger boats, the forecast indicates their passage south will be in relatively calm conditions.

    However, for the back end of the 157-strong fleet that will start the race from four lines, conditions may toughen, with increasing winds and thunderstorms expected early next week.

    The crew of defending line-honours champion, Wild Oats XI, are understandably optimistic about their chances of recording a record 10th line-honours triumph, notwithstanding the challenge they have faced to have the 100-footer repaired after sustaining mast and deck damage in the Cabbage Tree Island race last month, and then tested in a 24-hour qualifying sail last week.

    “She's 100-per-cent ready to go,” said Wild Oats XI tactician, Iain Murray, at the CYCA this morning.

    Asked if the Wild Oats XI crew has had enough preparation, Murray said: “We've been preparing for 15 years; same boat. It's one of those things … Comanche is one extreme, and we are the other extreme.

    “The skinny little boat likes some light breeze going downwind, and the bigger boats like to reach. So, it's going to be a test of where we go, and how much of each one you get. I'm sure there's going to be a bit of cat and mouse in all this.”

    Mark Bradford, skipper of Peter Harburg’s Black Jack, which was runner-up to Wild Oats XI on line honours last year, tips a line honours-winning time of “one day 20 hours, something like that".

    He also believes that Black Jack will be in the fray, saying: “We’ll be a candidate for sure. We’ve put a huge effort in this year so hopefully we’ll reap the rewards.”

    Harburg welcomed the forecast. ”There’s something for everyone, he said. “There’s some light, some strong, some reaching, so, there’s something for everyone. We’d like more light, but we’ve got to take what we get."

    Christian Beck, the owner of super maxi InfoTrack, fourth on line honours last year, commented: “In these conditions, we probably need a ‘Bradbury moment’ to win, but we could be right there is someone has a problem.”

    Matt Allen, the owner/skipper of the TP52, Ichi Ban, winner of the race in 2017, says: “The front of the pack is going to be amazing. You’ve never see these sorts of boats, hundred footers, around together anywhere else,” Allen said.

    “But the race is on at mid-part of the fleet.”

    On Ichi Ban, Allen said: “The boat is ready to go. We just need to wriggle out of that trough tonight, and cross our fingers and get through it, then it looks good for the bigger boats.

    “The forecast looks great for us. I think most of the boats around 50 foot, 60 foot look really good with this weather forecast. But there are a lot of competitive yachts, so, you've got to beat everyone around your size, and then hopefully the weather Gods are shining on you.”
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2
    Comanche Takes Line Honors

    Celebrations ensue after the 628-nautical-mile journey, culminating in a final tussle with fickle winds on the Derwent River

    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.

    Stay locked on to keep up to date with the Race Tracker, standings, photos and video throughout the race. Fans, participants and media are encouraged to follow the race on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well as tag their Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race content with the official hashtag #RolexSydneyHobart on all social media platforms.
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    • #3
      A flurry Of Finishers In The 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart

      It’s not size that matters for Michael Coxon in Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

      Australian sailing legend Michael Coxon has long been linked with the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race through his role as the master tactician on many successful super maxi yachts.

      But his imprint on this year’s 75th running of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia event will have nothing to do with any of the five 100-footers that finished on Saturday morning.

      It will be on a much smaller, but nonetheless impressive yacht – the David Griffith-owned JV62 Chinese Whisper – which was seventh to finish the 628-nautical-mile race at 5.24pm yesterday. For Coxon, this year’s Hobart will mark his 31st start in it. And when he stepped foot back on terra firma, it was clear that win or not, this 75th race will forever hold fond memories for him.

      “To be sailing on a 62-footer is a pleasure, because it’s big enough to be fast, but it is small enough and light enough you can actually handle it,” Coxon said.

      “It’s not like having an army squad with you. It’s a crew full of sailors who know what they’re doing and just get into it.

      “We didn’t have a park up in the Derwent River. We actually smoked the last bit. That’s somewhat unusual to smoke home. It was one of the nicer sails I’ve had in a long time.”

      Coxon, who has sailed on super maxis like Wild Oats XI, Alfa Romeo, Investec LOYAL, as well as a host of other boats that have reaped him five line-honours victories including one that also won overall (Sovereign in 1987), also praised Chinese Whisper’s crew.

      “It has been one of the smallest lead time preparations because of the modification to the keel and bowsprit,” he said.

      “We only went out sailing the weekend before with the race group and going through the basics – reefing and what not – we didn’t do any crew training.

      “But the crew is of such a calibre that we all know our jobs and what we are doing,” he said of the likes of Adrienne Cahalan (the only woman to sail 25 Sydney Hobarts – this was her 28th), Stacey Jackson (skippered an all-female crew on Wild Oats X to second overall last year), Tom Braidwood and others.

      “It’s the first Hobart I’ve been on where there hasn’t been any gear failure. We didn’t break anything.”

      Chinese Whisper was one of 16 boats to finish between 2.13pm on Saturday when the Reichel/Pugh 66 Alive crossed the line in sixth place on line honours and 5.50am Sunday when Stay Calm Hungary, another TP52, reached the finish as the 21st boat to do so.

      A number of those finishers were TP52s of which the first at 7.18pm was Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban, winner of the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart. Ichi Ban finished 11th across the line and today is in the box seat for overall victory.

      The battle between the TP52s was a tense one. Craig Neil, co-owner with Bob Steel of Ichi Ban’s main rival, Quest, was the 15th boat to finish at 9.59pm.

      “First night out we came in looking quite strong. Next day there was a lot of reaching which didn’t suit it us,” Neil said.

      “Then last night we came home – we raced really hard through the night. I woke up this morning and we were back up in front again.

      “It was a real tussle to the end. Unfortunately for us, we got caught in Storm Bay. We sat there, tried to move, but we couldn’t get going, and some of the other people did better.

      “We took a wider line into the Bay thinking that we would keep ourselves out of trouble because we could see some boats held up there.

      “We came around the corner and bang, it happened to us.”

      Barry Cuneo, owner of the TP52 Envy Scooters, finished 14th over the line at 8.05pm. The Commodore of Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron was happy with how his boat fared after owning it for two and half years.

      “We have been in a constant development program to get the boat up to the latest generation and the latest technologies,” he said.

      “It is starting to pay dividends. In the year coming up to this race, we had three firsts and a second in the four events we have been in.

      “We are very happy. We’ve come in as the third TP.

      “Everyone is stepping each other up the ladder. It’s making us strong and stronger as a fleet inside the fleet, which is why the TPs seem to be coming out on top all the time.”

      Chris Townsend, co-owner with Matt Donald of the TP52, Gweilo, finished 13th, at 7.42pm and was all smiles afterwards.

      “Better than last year,” he said. “We’re heading in the right direction. It was a great ride, a lot of fun.

      Donald agreed, saying: “Challenging at times, but we managed to get a fantastic result.”

      Meanwhile, the 69-foot maxi Naval Group, owned and skippered by Sean Langman, was eighth on line honours at 5.26pm yesterday.

      After starting on the first line with the super maxis, she fell into a hole on the first night and lost her advantage.

      “We had great leverage on all the TP52s and Chinese Whisper; some 30 miles,” Langman said.

      “Then this morning [Saturday] they were 10 miles in front of us ... We played a lot of catch up and got a fair bit of leverage on them going around Tasman Island.

      “Then we hit a major lump of weed going across Storm Bay.

      “We decided to stop, let Chinese Whisper pass us, so we could stay in touch with URM [a Reichel/Pugh 72], which was important for our division position.

      “Then we thought we should have a proper boat race with Chinese Whisper. We did that, got in front of them, then URM went to the other side of the river.

      “We did the right thing. We should have covered URM for our division.”

      For Jacek Siwek, the Polish co-skipper of the Australian-owned Volvo 70 Maserati, racing in his first Sydney Hobart will leave an indelible mark on his memory.

      “You are never fully happy. You always want to do better. But it’s our first Hobart,” he said.

      “We are a group of amateurs supported by a very professional team of five. So, it is difficult to compete against the best teams and fastest boats in the world.

      “We are happy; 12th place for our first Hobart is really a good performance.”


      PROTEST | Quest moves up leaderboard following protest against Envy Scooters

      Following a protest by Quest versus Envy Scooters, held at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania this afternoon, Envy Scooters has been penalised two hours on her elapsed time.

      The decision means Quest moves up into provisional third place overall, while Envy Scooters drops down the leaderboard from provisional third to provisional sixth place overall. The Rolex Sydney Yacht Race site has been updated.

      Protest No: Hearing held at RYCT on 29th December 2019

      Protest No: 1 QUEST v ENVY SCOOTERS – Port and Starboard incident

      Date of incident: 26 December, 2019


      1. Quest was on starboard tack and Envy Scooters was on port tack, both on a beat to windward prior to Mark V.

      2. The boats were on a collision course.

      3. The boats were between one and two boat lengths apart Quest bore away to avoid contact, and passed astern of Envy Scooters.

      4. Envy Scooters held her course.

      5. No boat took a penalty.

      6. There was no contact between the boats.


      1. Envy Scooters as port tack boat did not keep clear of Quest on starboard tack, and therefore broke RRS 10.

      2. Quest was justified in taking the avoiding action by bearing away, in order to avoid contact.

      RULES THAT APPLY: RRS10, RRS14, World Sailing Case 50, SI 21.2

      DECISION: A penalty of 2 hours is added to Envy Scooters elapsed time.

      International Jury: David Tillett (AUS), Rosemary Collins (AUS), Russell Green (NZ), Peter Scheuer (GER), Jamie Sutherland (NZ).

      By Di Pearson, RSHYR media
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