Comanche stages epic comeback to win Sydney to Hobart race

Mon Dec 28, 2015 7:35am EST
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SYDNEY (Reuters) - American super-maxi Comanche staged an epic fightback to take line honors in the tough Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race on Monday after damaging a rudder in treacherous conditions that knocked out around one-third of the entrants.

Comanche sailed into Constitution Dock in Hobart after crossing the finishing line at around 10 p.m. local time (1100 GMT) ahead of compatriot Rambler 88, which was set to take second place, followed by Australia's Ragamuffin 100 and Italy's Maserati.

Rambler 88 had led the race for several hours after Comanche briefly retired on Saturday night, before quickly reversing that decision and electing to battle on.

Most of the leading yachts sustained damage this year, amid wild weather and southerly gusts of up to 40 knots which knocked out the Australian pre-race favorite Wild Oats XI, thwarting its bid to break its record of eight victories.

Organizers say it has been the toughest race since 2004.

It is a sweet victory for Comanche's owner Jim Clark as well as for Australian co-owner Kristy Hinze-Clark, who was among the crew and was showered with champagne as the yacht arrived in Hobart to a crowd of supporters dressed in American Indian headdress.

Even more so for skipper Ken Read.

"That is a hard, hard body of water," Read told reporters after arriving, recounting his decision to continue the race despite damage to a daggerboard and a rudder.

"It was my decision. Sure enough this boat did its thing and got us out of trouble.   Continued...

Maxi yacht Comanche powers through heavy swells outside Sydney's harbour during the 71st Sydney to Hobart Yacht race, Australia's premiere bluewater classic race, December 26, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed