The 71st edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, which took place last month, was attended by an impressive fleet of 108 yachts, and was marked by the most dramatic weather and racing conditions this iconic race has seen in over a decade. The event attracted a record number of international entries, including the first ever Chinese boats.
Hometown favourites, the 100-foot maxis Wild Oats XI and Perpetual Loyal, were among the casualties of the first night, dashing their hopes of a line honours win. Bob Oatley’s team limped backed to Sydney after thrashing their mainsail, devastated not to have been able to add another line honours win to Wild Oats XI’s historic collection of eight titles. This would bode well for Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark’s Comanche, the 100-foot maxi which debuted at the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
In fact, S/Y Comanche took line honours in the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, completing the 628 NM course in 2 days, 9 hours, 58 minutes and 30 seconds and representing the first American entry to take line honours since 1998. Dockside at Constitution Wharf in Hobart, Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark celebrated, lifting the Illingworth Cup high. “It was really grueling. Pure terror at one stage. Excitement and now just total joy. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said Comanche’s co-owner Hinze-Clark, the first female owner to take line honours in this race.
The overall winner of the 2015 race has become Australia’s most famous financial guru and his crew on board Balance. Her crew were presented with the coveted Tattersall’s Cup and the engraved Rolex Yacht Master timepiece. “I started sailing at eight years old in a sabot, on a lake. But it’s stuff like this that makes you think this is an amazing sport. It makes kids jump in a little boat and take on a healthy sport. In what other sport do you know that if you are in trouble in the middle of the night, your competitor is going to stop and come to help. I’m proud to be a part of our sport. I am proud of my team and the people in this community. I’m honoured to win this trophy and sail with these folks, my crew. It’s an absolute privilege,” said Balance’s owner, Paul Clitheroe.
As the 71st edition came to an end, there was a tremendous sense of achievement shared among the participants, with their sights and hopes already set on for a return to Rolex Sydney Hobart on Boxing Day 2016.