27 Dec 2019

Comanche makes up for slow SydHob start

6:56 am on 27 December 2019

Two-time line honours winner Comanche lead the field early on the second day of the 75th Sydney to Hobart yacht race, briefly falling to fourth position overnight.

Comanche during the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. 2015.

Comanche. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Early on Friday morning, Scallywag was trailing Comanche for second place, closely followed by other supermaxis Black Jack, InfoTrack and Wild Oats XI.

Late on Thursday night, Black Jack briefly stole the lead from Comanche, sending it back to fourth place following a wind change. But Comanche grabbed the lead back early Friday morning.

All eyes will be set on the front runners attempting to reach Green Cape on the Victorian border early Friday morning for a mandatory radio check point.

The Sydney to Hobart began on Sydney Harbour with a fleet of 157 boats, the fourth-largest number of entries in the race's history.

Because of the size of the fleet, organisers decided to begin the race with four separate lines of boats, each with different turning marks on the harbour to equalise the race distance of 628 nautical miles to the finish in Hobart.

Thanks to New South Wales' ongoing bushfire crisis, there had been concerns that smoke on the harbour could have led to a postponement of the start.

But thankfully the skies were relatively clear and everything went ahead at the scheduled time of 1pm (AEDT).

The Christian Beck-owned InfoTrack got the best of the start, positioned perfectly to take the breeze on the harbour.

Initially, the supermaxi led last year's line honours winner Wild Oats XI, with the Queensland boat Black Jack - this year representing the Yacht Club de Monaco - in third.

Two-time line honours winner Comanche had a terrible start, getting stuck in the pack of boats from the first start line.

The pre-race expectations had been that the winning time for this year's race would be roughly 12 hours outside of Comanche's race record of one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds, set in 2017.

However, once InfoTrack led the fleet out of the harbour, the winds picked up down the coast.

Comanche in particular took advantage of the chance to fill the sails, ramping up the speed to well over 20 knots.

The Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant-owned supermaxi quickly gathered up InfoTrack and hit the front past Cronulla, sailing the furthest out to sea of any boat in the race.

Conditions continued to suit Comanche, and as the fleet headed south and the other leading contenders picked up the stronger winds, the leading yacht maintained and improved its lead.