Comanche first to finish Sydney Hobart
Published on December 27th, 2022
(December 28, 2022) – John ‘Herman’ Winning Jr has set his sights on back-to-back Line Honors wins in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with Andoo Comanche after the maxi claimed this year’s title.
Early this morning, Winning Jr skippered the champion 100-footer to its fourth elapsed time victory for the 628 nm course, but his first with the boat he has on a lease until April 2024.
“We’ve got the boat and will be coming back for sure,” said Winning. “We’re not trying to come second. We’re here to win every race that we do.
“This boat doesn’t deserve to come second; certainly not when it’s in its prime. Until the foiling boats outdate this boat she should always be going out there trying to win Line Honors.”
However, for now, Winning Jr and his crew will continue to celebrate their success in this year’s race, secured when they crossed the finish line at 12:56:48 am today.
Their winning time of 1 day 11 hours 56 minutes 48 seconds was just outside the race record time of 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes, 24 seconds, set by LDV Comanche in 2017.
But their victory was nonetheless an impressive one in the fast downwind conditions which were created by the north-north easterly winds that prevailed for their entire journey south.
Second to finish at 1:23:19 am was Christian Beck’s LawConnect in 1 day 12 hours 23 minutes 19 seconds.
Third at 1:40:34 am was Peter Harburg’s Black Jack, skippered by Mark Bradford. The Oatley Family’s Hamilton Island Wild Oats, skippered by Mark Richards, crossed at 2:38:13 am
Andoo Comanche and LawConnect, which flew protest flags due to incidents exiting Sydney Harbor, both finished with their protest flags no longer up.
For Winning Jr, who was aboard Perpetual Loyal for her victory in 2016, it was a special result. It was his first as skipper and his father, John ‘Woody’ Winning, was also aboard.
“The moments are still sinking in,” Winning Jr said. “It just didn’t feel real until the last minute. Once it started sinking in, I just started thinking about who went into making it all possible.”
Andoo Comanche’s win added another chapter to its history. It was its fourth Line Honors win after 2015, 2017 (record that still holds), and 2019. It is also the first boat to win under three different owners.
American Jim Clark and his Australian wife, Kristy Hinze Clark, were the original owners of the yacht designed by Verdier Yacht Design and VPLP. They launched Comanche in 2015 and took Line Honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart that year.
The Clarks sold the boat to Jim Cooney and his wife Samantha Grant, who renamed the yacht LDV Comanche and took Line Honors and the race record of 1 day 9 hours 15 minutes 24 seconds in 2017, returning as Comanche in 2019, to take Line Honors again.
LawConnect’s owner, Christian Beck, was more than happy about finishing second behind Andoo Comanche, especially in conditions that did not suit his boat.
“We thought we were going to come fourth in these conditions, so second was beyond our expectations,” said Beck, for whom it was his fifth campaign on the boat.
“I’m very proud of it. The boat’s not that good, but the crew is awesome. For us to be half an hour behind Comanche and ahead of Wild Oats and Black Jack is incredibly good for us.”
Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford said this Rolex Sydney Hobart might be the last for Peter Harburg’s yacht, which won Line Honors last year.
“We’re going to head to Europe next year,” he said. “We’re going to go where the winds are light. We’re getting out of here!”
As for this year’s race, Bradford noted how it was a totally different race compared to last year. “Just an easy downwind race. No real dramas. Everyone should get here safely and yet have a great race.
“It was always going to be a close race, this race. Halfway through, Comanche had a pretty healthy lead and then towards the end, it came back into sort of 12 miles or so to us and six to LawConnect. I think that’s probably a fair result for everyone, really, to be honest.
“Comanche is a great boat with a great crew. They sail it well, obviously; but to be 12 miles behind after 628 nautical miles in what is their conditions? We’re pretty happy with that.”
Two boats retired on day one – the two-handed Avalanche (James Murchison/James Francis) due to a broken bowsprit and Louis and Marc Ryckman’s Yeah Baby with rudder damage from a sunfish strike.
On day two, the fleet was reduced to 106 boats with the retirement of the TP52 Koa, co-owned by Peter Wrigley and Andy Kearnan, after losing its rudder and calling for assistance.
The 628 nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is the 77th edition in 2022 and had a fleet of 109 boats for the start on December 26. One hundred fifty seven teams set off in 2019, but since then the 2020 race was cancelled due to the pandemic with 88 entries in 2021.
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.