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Perpetual LOYAL smashes Sydney-Hobart record

2016-12-27 22:22
Perpetual LOYAL (Getty Images)

Sydney - Australian supermaxi Perpetual LOYAL smashed the race record by almost five hours when it took out line honours in the gruelling Sydney to Hobart race early on Wednesday, after eight-time winner Wild Oats XI retired.

LOYAL, a long-time rival of favourite Wild Oats, put to bed her failure to finish the past two races when the 100-footer arrived at Hobart's Constitution Dock in a record time of 1 day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds.

"This is one for the true believers," owner and skipper Anthony Bell told reporters in Hobart after the yacht powered towards the finish line at 20 knots.

"I don't think anyone expected us to do well in this race, the bookies certainly didn't," he added, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The new finish time for the 628-nautical-mile (1 163km) event was four hours and 51 minutes faster than the previous record of 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds set in 2012 by Wild Oats.

New Zealand's Giacomo - which is aiming to be crowned the overall winner, the handicap honours for the vessel that performs best according to size - finished second with a time of 1 day, 15 hours, 27 minutes and 5 seconds.

Hong Kong businessman Seng Huang Lee's entrant Scallywag crossed the finish line about two minutes later.

LOYAL had benefited from favourable winds that saw the race leaders tear down Australia's east coast after departing Sydney Harbour on Monday.

The yacht was first into the open ocean followed by Scallywag and Wild Oats.

Wild Oats edged into the lead amid freshening northerly winds, but in a bitter blow, its hydraulic keel control mechanism failed when it was in the middle of the Bass Strait.

Citing the safety of the crew, skipper Mark Richards made the call to retire from the race on Tuesday morning, with the yacht arriving at the town of Eden some 480km south of Sydney early on Wednesday.

It was the second-straight year Wild Oats had to pull out from the bluewater classic, with a mainsail rip thwarting her ambitions in 2015.

The line honours instead went to America's Comanche, which did not take part in this year's contest.

But half the world-class crew of Comanche returned to the Sydney to Hobart on board LOYAL, after Bell brought them in this year in a bid to become more competitive.

This year's win is the second for Bell, the head of an accountancy firm, who took out line honours in 2011 with Investec Loyal - the first time he sailed in the race.

He signalled his intent to move on after the win, saying he "won't be back next year" and that he had something "new and hot" to do in sailing without elaborating further.

Earlier, the Commodore of organisers the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) John Markos said the favourable conditions this year "will make it a pretty hard record to break" when a new line honours time was set.

Storms are usually a regular hazard in the Sydney to Hobart, one of the world's most challenging races. Six men died, five boats sank and 55 sailors were rescued in 1998 when a deep depression hit the Tasman Sea.

Read more on:    yachting
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