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
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
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.