HOBART, Australia (AP) — Super maxi Black Jack crossed the finish line early Wednesday morning to win line honors at the Sydney to Hobart race.
The Monaco Yacht Club-based Black Jack finished at 1:37 a.m. (1437 GMT Tuesday) in 2 days, 12 hours, 37 minutes, 17 seconds.
This year’s 628-nautical mile event (about 720 miles; 1,170 kilometers) has been one of the slower races in recent memory, a long way behind Comanche’s 2017 record of 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes, 24 seconds.
Race officials said 36 boats have retired from a starting field of 88 because of rough conditions caused largely by ocean currents.
“It was tough in the beginning," Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford said. "The first 30 hours were pretty rugged.”
Black Jack and 100-footer LawConnect — a previous winner as Perpetual Loyal in 2016 and Investec Loyal in 2011 — had traded the lead several times as the yachts approached the island of Tasmania.
LawConnect finished second in 2 days, 15 hours, 11 minutes, 44 seconds. Hong Kong’s SHK Scallywag100, which led the fleet out of Sydney Harbour on Sunday, was less than 20 minutes behind LawConnect to finish in third place.
“We had a tough race with both the (supermaxis),” Bradford said. “We dropped Scallywag at the end for a bit but she came back and LawConnect was right there the whole way.”
Last year’s race was canceled the week before it was due to start because of coronavirus-related quarantine issues, but the 2021 edition proceeded with mass virus-testing protocols in place. Skippers were told boats must immediately retire from the race if a crew member receives a message from health authorities saying they have tested positive for COVID-19.
Black Jack previously claimed line honors in the 2009 edition under the name Alfa Romeo. It was second to Wild Oats XI by just 28 minutes in a 2018 thriller.
Owner Peter Harburg was at Constitution Dock in Hobart to greet his team.
“It is very emotional. It is the grand prize of yachting in Australia. For me it’s the first time I’ve been involved in a winning team,” Harburg said. “I don’t know whether I want to cry or laugh or give Mark another hug. I can’t describe it.”
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