Ichi Ban wins 2021 Sydney Hobart
Published on December 31st, 2021
Hobart, Australia (December 31, 2021) – Matt Allen’s TP52 Ichi Ban was declared overall winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race for a third time, earning the Tattersall Cup for the lowest corrected time under the IRC rule.
Since launched in late December 2017, Ichi Ban also won overall honors in 2017 and 2019.
“This is a time we will never forget. I have a mix of young, old and wise crew. It was a great opportunity for the guys who worked so hard,” said Allen, who also won the race as crew for Lou Abrahams on Challenge in 1983.
“To win with Ichi Ban a third time is unbelievable. It’s always better, ideally, not to go into the room to decide,” the yachtsman said, referring to two protests against Sam Haynes’ Celestial (including one from Ichi Ban), which finished with a better time but received a penalty in the protest room and so placed second overall to Allen’s boat.
“Rules are a critical part of our sport,” Allen said. “But we had a great neck-and-neck race with Celestial – all the way to Hobart. I completely understand why they would be upset. It was certainly a tussle between the two of us and Quest, until Quest dropped off the back and it was just us and Celestial.
“I was confident one or the other of us would win. We knew the predicted second southerly wouldn’t arrive, and that helped us,” Allen acknowledged. “We knew we’d have our ups and downs, but I always thought we had a chance. We pushed the whole way. It’s the toughest Hobart since 2014 – and it was tough.”
Among the 88 total starters, 38 teams retired along the course. The fully crewed teams accounted for 31 while the 2-handed division, with 17 entrants, had seven that failed to finish.
Allen and Ichi Ban join two greats of sailing in winning three times – Freya (Trygve and Magnus Halvorsen) overall winner in 1963, 1964, and 1965 and Love & War (Peter Kurts and then Simon Kurts) 1974, 1978, and 2006.
“It’s an amazing moment in time. Trygve designed, built and sailed Freya – that’s amazing. I sailed with Peter Kurts. Love & War is incredible,” he said, referring to her three wins plus a third overall this year.
“Having a big gap between Love & War’s first two and the third win is incredible. I think it would bring a tear to Kurtsy’s eye to see his well-maintained and well-sailed boat still doing so well,” Allen said of the late Peter Kurts.
“I’m in amazing company,” he said of joining the two in being the only ones to ever win the 628 nautical mile race overall three times.
“I look at Azzurro (Shane Kearns’ S&S 34 White Bay 6 Azzurro) that nearly caused an upset again this year until she ran out of breeze), and Love & War, to my boat with the latest in technology and I think about the wide variances in a fleet where anyone can win.
“In 2016, I invited Gordon Maguire (a highly respected yachtsman) to have coffee with me and told him I was putting a new boat together. He has been with me since.
“I helped in the design process. We put the right package together; the boat, crew and culture. We all just go and work and sail hard together; there are no egos on board. It’s a fulfillment of the sailing capability of the crew and the whole project.
“Gordon, Dick Parker, Will (Oxley), James Paterson, Dav (Davin Conigrave), Tim Sellars, Sean (O’Rourke), Matiu (Te Hau), and Jeremy (Rae) are the core. A really amazing group of guys; experienced and calm.
“All the campaigns have really stepped up again this year. There’s no doubt about the competition in this race – in the 44 to 55 footers alone, it is incredible. You wouldn’t find the competition we have in this race anywhere else in the world.
“We’ve had conditions to suit these boats the last few years in the Sydney Hobart. You go so fast in the north-easterlies; you go very fast. This year we got southerlies at the start and we were still able to win.”
Allen has been blooded by some legends in yachting. “I always remember my great sailing times with Lou Abrahams – he won two,” says Allen, who had his own first win with the great Victorian yachtsman.
“I always take time out on that first afternoon to think about Lou and Trygve (Halvorsen), and others that I sailed with that meant something to me,” he said.
UPDATE: The Request To Reopen hearings in relation to protests by Ichi Ban versus Celestial (including Request for Redress) and the Race Committee versus Celestial, was considered by the International Jury for the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania on January 1, 2022. The Request to Reopen (lodged by Celestial) was denied and results stand – Ichi Ban remains the overall winner of the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Date and time decision advised: 14:02, January 1, 2022.
The 628 nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be the 76th edition in 2021 with a fleet of 88 boats that include three international entries. One hundred fifty seven teams set off in 2019 for the 75th edition, but since then the 2020 race was cancelled due to the pandemic and uncertainty has hovered this year.
From the start in Sydney Harbour, the fleet sails out into the Tasman Sea, down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait (which divides the mainland from the island State of Tasmania), 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 the historic port city of Hobart.