Comanche wins 75th Sydney to Hobart race, InfoTrack in 2nd

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In a photo provided by Rolex, Comanche arrives at Hobart, Australia, to claim line honors victory in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex via AP)
In a photo provided by Rolex, Comanche arrives at Hobart, Australia, to claim line honors victory in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex via AP)

Hobart, Australia (AP) — Comanche won the 75th edition of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Saturday by claiming line honors for the third time.

The Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant-skippered super maxi made the most of strong overnight winds to cross the River Derwent finish line just after 7:30 a.m. local time.

Comanche earlier broke away from a five-strong pack of super maxis down Tasmania’s east coast having taken a wider route across Bass Strait on Friday.

She stalled at one stage on a windless River Derwent before crossing the line in a time of 1 day, 18 hours, 30 minutes and 24 seconds.

“That was dramatic. That was 30 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. It was really very stressful,” Cooney said.

InfoTrack, which was the first yacht out of Sydney Harbour on Thursday, finished second, about 45 minutes behind Comanche. The three other super maxis filled out the top five placings — nine-time line honors champion Wild Oats XI was third, Scallywag fourth, just 38 seconds behind, and Black Jack fifth.

Comanche’s celebrations were subdued at Hobart’s Constitution Dock after several nights of intense racing.

The yacht fell behind on Friday morning but regained the lead in the afternoon after taking the wider Bass Strait route to pick up winds.

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“It was a long night. Everybody is pretty tired,” Cooney said. “We treated the race as a sprint, we didn’t take too many breaks. We wanted crew on deck all the time. It was relief more than elation.”

Comanche ran into more problems near Tasman Island, where an unknown object wrapped around the yacht’s rudder rendered it immobile.

“We were in a little bit of drama for a short period of time,” Cooney said.

Comanche’s previous wins were in 2015 and 2017, the latter coming in race-record time of 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes after Wild Oats XI was stripped of the title in a post-race protest.

Minerva became the fleet’s third retirement overnight, reducing the number of yachts in the race to 154.