Comanche: Three Months from Splash to Start

Published on December 15th, 2014

Since her launch on September 27 in East Boothbay, Maine, the 100-foot Comanche has attracted attention with her lethal looks. Seeking to be ready to start the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on December 26, Jim and Kristy Clark’s team have had a daunting deadline. Here is an update from Comanche’s skipper Ken Read…

First test in Australia
An amazing team got Comanche off the ship, in the water and trained for three days prior to trying to get this beast around one of the shortest, quickest race tracks I have ever been on (SOLAS Big Boat Challenge). On December 9, with the 1,000 spectator boats/ferries/other hundred-footers on Sydney Harbor, we very proudly made it around the track holding our heads high with a tight second to local maxi Wild Oats XI who quite frankly is much better suited for this type of sailing. No excuses though. We still have plenty of work to do!

Local reception
So far we have had an amazing time down here; not just with the testing and training but with the incredible hospitality we have received from the people of Sydney and all sailors in Australia. It has actually been a little overwhelming because there has been a tremendous outpouring of help. We’re really pleased and the boat so far is living up to expectations. We’ll see how she does when we line up against our competitors on December 26th.

Training
The polars coming from the design office, on a completely new design, are actually remarkably close so far. We just made the decision to keep them as is. With that said, would we like six more months to get this boat ready? Absolutely. It’s a matter of dealing with what you’ve got. We’re out sailing every day, putting the boat through its paces. But, it is a fine line between taking the boat out and testing it in heavy weather and taking it out and breaking it to the point that we can’t do the race. We are being cautious on windy days even though we know there could be a lot of wind in this race; I guess we would rather break during the race than breakdown while on a cruise.

Experience
On our team we have a lot of people, including our navigator Stan Honey, who have won this race before so although this is one of the very few races I have not participated in to date, I am very comfortable with the people around the program who know the race course and the situation quite well.
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Background: One hundred nineteen teams have entered the 628 nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Starting on December 26, the fleet exits Sydney Harbor and heads down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait, then down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turns right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to finish in Hobart. www.rolexsydneyhobart.com

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