Sydney Hobart maxi battle

Black Jack wins the VO70 as trio reach Hobart three minutes apart

Sunday December 29th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: Australia

While Wild Oats XI scored her seventh line honours win in this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart, the race also provided an interesting competition between a wider range of big race boats, including four 100 footers, two latest generation VO70s and two brand new designs, the Botin 80 Beau Geste and Matt Allen's latest Ichi Ban, a Premier Composite Technologies-built Carkeek 60.

Pos Boat Owner/skipper Type Finished at Course time
1 Wild Oats XI Robert Oatley Reichel Pugh 100ft  28 Dec, 07:07:27 PM  02:06:07:2711.6
2 Perpetual LOYAL Anthony Bell Juan K 100ft 28 Dec, 10:19:56 PM  02:09:19:5611.0
3 Ragamuffin 100 Syd Fischer Elliott 100ft 28 Dec, 11:48:00 PM  02:10:48:0010.7
4 Black Jack Peter Harburg Juan K VO70 29 Dec, 04:09:34 AM  02:15:09:349.9
5 Beau Geste Karl Kwok Botin 80 29 Dec, 04:10:45 AM  02:15:10:459.9
6 Giacomo Jim Delegat Juan K VO70 29 Dec, 04:11:51 AM  02:15:11:519.9
7 Wild Thing Grant Wharington Don Jones-Fred Barrett 100ft 29 Dec, 04:38:22 AM  02:15:38:229.9
8 Ichi Ban Matt Allen Carkeek 60 29 Dec, 06:04:24 AM  02:17:04:249.7

Obviously in the majority of circumstances waterline length wins and so it proved with the two line honours favourites, the 100 footers Wild Oats XI and Perpetual Loyal coming home first and second, the former probably the most optimised of the 100 footers and sporting a new lighter weight mast and a DSS retractible lateral foil, and the latter rebuilt and back in action after losing her keel and capsizing as Rambler 100 in the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race.

Perpetual Loyal had moved into the lead in the race by taking a more offshore route south down the New South Wales coast, but as the wind petered out crossing Bass Strait so Wild Oats XI moved back into first place and then had the added benefit of sailing into pressure as the wind built to gale force off the Tasman coast.

Perpetual Loyal eventually arrived at Hobart's Constitution Dock three hours 10 minutes after Wild Oats XI.

“It was sobering when the guys went past us, that’s for sure,” Bell said, adding that the conditions in this year's race just didn't suit his beamy Juan K design. “For two-thirds of the race we were looking at the dial and it was showing single digits. There were times when we had only one knot. In a traditional Hobart race, this boat really moves. For a brief time today we had 35 knots. It loved it. That is what it is built for. Hopefully, one day we’ll have a traditional Hobart race."

He said he thought it would be hard to keep the crew motivated, but “they self-charged and they kept going and going and going."

Perpetual Loyal is a long term proposition. It’s done a lot of work for us, raised a lot of money for charity. That’s our prime goal in racing.”

Had the race had more wind and been more of a reach-off then the VO70s may have upset the form book. While Jim Delegat's Giacomo (former the 2011-2 Volvo Ocean Race winner, Groupama) pulled ahead 75 miles out from the finish, in what turned out to be a three way tussle between the VO70s and Beau Geste, the trio trading tacks up the River Derwent, it was Peter Harburg' Black Jack (ex-Telefonica) which prevailed. This was despite Black Jack suffering mainsail damage caused by the gale force winds off the Tasman coast. Ultimately Black Jack came home fourth overall crossing the line just over one minute ahead of Beau Geste, and two minutes ahead of Giacomo.

“When it (the mainsail) broke, quite a few of us gave up, I’ll be honest,” skipper Mark Bradford said of the moment when main blew out, about 30nm from Tasman light. “Peter Elkington put up a fractional zero, I guess he wanted to get to the bar quickly, and push ahead. But then we got lucky when we got to Tasman Light, everyone else was in a world of hurt and we were already set up for the gusts.”

Giacomo trimmer Phil Robinson said there were times when the crew had eyes only for Black Jack: “We set out to beat the other 70 on the line right from the start. We crossed right behind them two or three miles from the finish, the rivalry was strong right from the start to the finish.”

For Bradford, edging ahead of Beau Geste and Giacomo and nipping at the heels of the 100-footers was an incredible outcome in a race that he’d earlier ruled-out. “For us, we’re claiming it as a victory. To come fourth from where we were, when we thought it was pretty much all over, is just great.

“There’s more to come out of these 70 footers, and while Ricko [Mark Richards] did really well this year [on Wild Oats XI], in some of the races ahead you’ll see the smaller boats do well.”

Despite only being 60ft long and being conventionally ballasted, Matt Allen's new Ichi Ban did a good job hanging on to the coat-tails of the older generation 100 footers. Veteran Hobart racer and past winner, Michael Spies was upbeat about the new boat: “All credit to the builder and those involved; we came through without a single glitch and a great result for its first serious hit-out.

“We experienced about 30 knots across the deck but had no problems with the boat - there's no doubt you're going to be hearing more about PCT’s C60, because our team aboard Ichi Ban are only going to get stronger and stronger,” added Spies.

With the changing weather requiring plenty of sail changes veteran Spies was impressed with Ichi Ban's crew work. “They never missed a beat.”

More exquisite images from Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex



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