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Irish Hopes Are High After Classic Start to Sydney Hobart Race

26th December 2019
The Howth Yacht Club First 40 Breakthrough crew were eighth boat across the line in a 56-boat startline The Howth Yacht Club First 40 Breakthrough crew were eighth boat across the line in a 56-boat startline Photo: HYC

Irish fortunes in the Sydney Hobart race are led by the super maxi co-owned by Jim Cooney (whose family hails from County Meath) who is the fleet leader while Irish hopes are also high on Darren Wright's Howth Yacht Club First 40 Breakthrough that started well among the First 40s to be currently placed 16th in class 6, 17nm SE of Kiama. Also from Howth, sailing master Gordon Maguire, is a race favourite on the TP52 Ichi Ban and second on IRC and the current IRC 1 division leader. Yet another Howth sailor on the JV62 Chinese Whisper Shane Diviney is eighth overall in IRC. Navigator onboard Chinese Whisper is Sydney local with Irish roots Adrienne Cahalan.  Afloat's WM Nixon previewed the race here

Early Lead for Commanche

Comanche, the 2017 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.

Sydney hobart startThe front runners dash to be the first to exit Sydney Harbour and make a jump on the rest of the fleet. Photo - Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

The super maxi, co-owned by Cooney (who hails from County Meath) 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.

ComancheComanche with the other 100-foot super maxis in her sight which she quickly reeled in and nudged past. Photo: Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

“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…”

Howth Yacht ClubBreakthrough FlagHowth Yacht Club fly the flag for Ireland on Darren Wright's Breakthrough entry before the Sydney Hobart start

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.

Published in Sydney to Hobart
Afloat.ie Team

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