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Sydney to Hobart: US yacht Comanche takes line honours despite suffering rudder damage

ABC News ABC News 28/12/2015

American yacht Comanche has taken line honours in the 71st Sydney to Hobart yacht race with a time of two days, eight hours, 58 minutes and 30 seconds.

The supermaxi left behind fellow American yacht Rambler 88 to take advantage of southerly winds in the evening as it swept up the Derwent River finishing ahead by more than 50 nautical miles.

Now that Comanche has tied up line honours, attention has turned to who will take out handicap honours for the overall victory.

Comanche is still in the running to win both line and handicap honours.

Winner of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race Comanche close to the finish line, in Hobart. © AAP Image/Rob Blakers Winner of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race Comanche close to the finish line, in Hobart.

Owner Jim Clark said he had faith his crew could pull through.

"As soon as I heard that they were going to keep going I knew that ... this racing crew would not stop unless they could [not] keep going," he said.

Skipper Ken Read said his crew were pushed to the limit.

"This is a hard race. You guys have a hard race here. That's one hard, hard body of water," he said.

"I've sailed around the world two and a half times and I thought I'd seen it all but that is one really tough body of water.

"The people who have done this race something like 25 times, God bless 'em, either they're the dumbest people on earth or the hardest people on earth.

"Probably a combination of the two."

Mr Clark's wife and former model Kristy Hinze was aboard the yacht as a crew member.

Her mother Vivienne Hinze said she was very proud of the yacht's performance.

"Team Comanche, I mean they just never gave in, when they got severe damage when they hit those strong winds on that first night, look we were all devastated and though they were going to pull out," she said.

"Comanche never gives in.

"They did some repairs, they limped in, rudder damage, busted dagger board, and she just kept on coming, [I'm] really proud of them."

First American yacht to win line honours since 1998

Ms Hinze said the team had adopted a classic rock song as it's unofficial anthem.

"We were blasting out Fat Bottomed Girls [by Queen], that's the nickname the Oats team gave us," she said.

A string of yachts retired on the first night of the Bluewater Classic, after intense weather forced a number of the leaders to turn back, including eight-time line honours winner and defending champion Wild Oats Eleven.

Frontrunner Comanche was going to turn back with a broken rudder, but the crew changed its mind and instead opted to make repairs at sea.

A further three yachts pulled out of the race overnight, bringing the total number of retirements to 32.

By this morning the American favourite was leading the race after edging clear of Rambler 88 to leave the 88-foot yacht well behind.

The victorious Comanche crew were met by owner Mr Clark at Constitution Dock.

The Australian supermaxi Ragamuffin 100 is yet further behind in third place, expected to finish the race in the early hours of tomorrow.

Comanche is the first American yacht to win line honours since 1998.

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