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Black Jack Takes Sydney-Hobart Line Honours While Three TP 52s are “Glued Together” in Battle for IRC Overall Win

29th December 2021
In the calm of the night…..Black Jack crossed the Hobart finish line at 01:37
In the calm of the night…..Black Jack crossed the Hobart finish line at 01:37 "tomorrow morning", 23 minutes ahead of some wise pundit’s pre-race prediction Credit: via Salty Dingo

The Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race must be one of the most intensely-analysed offshore racing events in the world, providing four or five days of close-fought competition to be looked at every which way while the Northern Hemisphere is largely in a state of hibernation reinforced by post-Christmas torpor. Yet somewhere in the midst of all the pre-race predictions, at least one pundit was heard suggesting - when the last pre-race weather forecast was posted - that there was no way anyone was going to get anywhere near the record, and the best the leading Super Maxi could hope to do was finish in the usual overnight calm at Hobart around 0200hrs on the morning of Wednesday, December 29th East Australian Time.

The 30.5 metre (100 foot) maxi yacht Black Jack, owned by Peter Harburg and skippered by Mark Bradford, secured Line Honours at the 76th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht RaceThe 30.5 metre (100 foot) maxi yacht Black Jack, owned by Peter Harburg and skippered by Mark Bradford, secured Line Honours at the 76th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

Christian Beck’s LawConnect held the lead on the water more than one occasionChristian Beck’s LawConnect held the lead on the water more than one occasion

SHK Scallywag 100 was the third maxi to finish the 76th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht RaceSHK Scallywag 100 was the third maxi to finish the 76th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

Well, failure is an orphan but success has many fathers. So doubtless there’ll be dozens who’ll claim they said it, though for the life of me at the moment I can’t remember who it actually was. But as Peter Harburg's RP100 Black Jack crossed the line in the usual Hobart overnight calm at 01:37:17 on Wednesday, December 29th AT, somebody must be giving himself or herself a pat on the back, knowing that whatever others may claim, it was they who predicted it.

Black Jack approaches Tasman Island, the southernmost point of the 628nm courseBlack Jack approaches Tasman Island, the southernmost point of the 628nm course

The other Super Maxis LawConnect (Christian Beck) and SHK Scallywag (Seng Huang Lee, Hong Kong) also finished in the dark, but Black Jack stays ahead of them on corrected time. However, as the Race Tracker reveals, just under a hundred miles from the finish the three TP 52s Smuggler, Ichi Ban and Celestial seem glued together as they shape up for the hopefully stronger daylight winds of Tasmania, and the possibility of a reasonably brisk fiinish with the last of the evening breeze into the Derwent River, an outcome which would set the first of the trio in a good place for the overall win.

As often as not Smuggler (Sebastian Bohm) and Celestial (Sam Hynes) have been ahead of Ichi Ban, the defending champion, during the racing down from Sydney. But as we enter the End Game, there’s a feeling that the Matt Allen/Gordon Maguire team on Ichi Ban are like the seemingly sleeping cat, apparently immobile at the foot of the apple tree while some tuneful bird is singing merrily on the top branch. Quicker than the eye can see, the cat is on the top branch, and all is silence as a few tiny feathers float away on the breeze.

Line Honours presentation (L-R) Mr. Benoit Falletti (Rolex Australia), Peter Harburg (Owner Black Jack) and Mark Bradford (Skipper Black Jack)Line Honours presentation (L-R) Mr. Benoit Falletti (Rolex Australia), Peter Harburg (Owner Black Jack) and Mark Bradford (Skipper Black Jack)

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is an annual offshore yacht racing event with an increasingly international exposure attracting super maxi yachts and entries from around tne world. It is hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, New South Wales on Boxing Day and finishing in Hobart, Tasmania. The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km).

The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - FAQs

The number of Sydney Hobart Yacht Races held by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia since 1945 is 75

6,257 completed the Sydney Hobart Yacht race, 1036 retired or were disqualified)

About 60,061 sailors have competed in the Sydney Hobart Race between 1945 and 2019

Largest fleets: 371 starters in the 50th race in 1994 (309 finished); 154 starters in 1987 (146 finished); 179 starters in 1985 (145 finished); 151 starters in 1984 (46 finished); 173 started in 1983 (128 finished); 159 started in 1981 (143 finished); 147 started in 1979 (142 finished); 157 started in 2019 (154 finished)

116 in 2004 (59 finished); 117 in 2014 (103 finished); 157 in 2019 (154 finished)

Nine starters in the inaugural Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 1945

In 2015 and 2017 there were 27, including the 12 Clipper yachts (11 in 2017). In the record entry of 371 yachts in the 50th in 1994, there were 24 internationals

Rani, Captain John Illingworth RN (UK). Design: Barber 35’ cutter. Line and handicap winner

157 starters, 154 finishers (3 retirements)

IRC Overall: Ichi Ban, a TP52 owned by Matt Allen, NSW. Last year’s line honours winner: Comanche, Verdier Yacht Design and VPLP (FRA) owned by Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant, in 1 day 18 hours, 30 minutes, 24 seconds. Just 1hour 58min 32secs separated the five super maxis at the finish 

1 day 9 hours 15 minutes and 24 seconds, set in 2017 by LDV Comanche after Wild Oats XI was penalised one hour in port/starboard incident for a finish time of 1d 9h 48m 50s

The oldest ever sailor was Syd Fischer (88 years, 2015).

As a baby, Raud O'Brien did his first of some six Sydney Hobarts on his parent's Wraith of Odin (sic). As a veteran at three, Raud broke his arm when he fell off the companionway steps whilst feeding biscuits to the crew on watch Sophie Tasker sailed the 1978 race as a four-year-old on her father’s yacht Siska, which was not an official starter due to not meeting requirements of the CYCA. Sophie raced to Hobart in 1979, 1982 and 1983.

Quite a number of teenage boys and girls have sailed with their fathers and mothers, including Tasmanian Ken Gourlay’s 14-year-old son who sailed on Kismet in 1957. A 12-year-old boy, Travis Foley, sailed in the fatal 1998 race aboard Aspect Computing, which won PHS overall.

In 1978, the Brooker family sailed aboard their yacht Touchwood – parents Doug and Val and their children, Peter (13), Jacqueline (10), Kathryne (8) and Donald (6). Since 1999, the CYCA has set an age limit of 18 for competitors

Jane (‘Jenny’) Tate, from Hobart, sailed with her husband Horrie aboard Active in the 1946 Race, as did Dagmar O’Brien with her husband, Dr Brian (‘Mick’) O’Brien aboard Connella. Unfortunately, Connella was forced to retire in Bass Strait, but Active made it to the finish. The Jane Tate Memorial Trophy is presented each year to the first female skipper to finish the race

In 2019, Bill Barry-Cotter brought Katwinchar, built in 1904, back to the start line. She had competed with a previous owner in 1951. It is believed she is the oldest yacht to compete. According to CYCA life member and historian Alan Campbell, more than 31 yachts built before 1938 have competed in the race, including line honours winners Morna/Kurrewa IV (the same boat, renamed) and Astor, which were built in the 1920s.

Bruce Farr/Farr Yacht Design (NZL/USA) – can claim 20 overall wins from 1976 (with Piccolo) up to and including 2015 (with Balance)

Screw Loose (1979) – LOA 9.2m (30ft); Zeus II (1981) LOA 9.2m

TKlinger, NSW (1978) – LOA 8.23m (27ft)

Wild Oats XI (2012) – LOA 30.48m (100ft). Wild Oats XI had previously held the record in 2005 when she was 30m (98ft)

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