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Sydney-Hobart top prize for first-timer

AAP logoAAP 28/12/2016 Andrew Drummond

James Delegat's sailing career has reached an early high with the 18-year-old part of a Giacomo crew declared overall winners of the 2016 Sydney to Hobart.

The Auckland teenager beat an age cutoff by 15 days to be the race's youngest competitor and achieve in his first attempt a prestigious prize that has eluded experienced life-long sailors.

The New Zealand boat, owned and skippered by James's dad Jim Delegat, also contained brother Nikolas, 19, in what was a family affair.

"With me and Nik on board we've seen a whole different side of dad and his passion for sailing," James said after the trio accepted the Tattersall's Cup at the Hobart waterfront on Thursday.

"(Sailing in the race) for the first time, and to win it is ... I'm speechless."

Working on the bow of the Volvo 70-class yacht, James wasn't spared any of the hard work and will need to embrace a challenge with hopes of making a career out of ocean racing.

Giacomo reached Hobart early on Wednesday in darkness and rain, claiming second-place in line honours behind winning Australian supermaxi Perpetual LOYAL, which smashed the race record by almost five hours.

"This is a story and a journey of learning and understanding what it really takes to achieve astonishing success," Jim said of his 12th race and third time contesting the 628-mile course in Giacomo.

In 2013 the boat was sixth across the line and in 2014 lost her mast while travelling down the Tassie coast.

The skipper credited thorough planning and detailed studying of weather forecasts for his success in 2016.

"We enjoyed some incredible reaching, we had some fantastic running and we also had a lot of slow time and we took a lot of beating," Jim said, noting speeds of up to 28 knots on the first night.

"To be honest we used every sail we had on the boat."

It can take several days to confirm the handicap winner on corrected time but breathless conditions on Hobart's Derwent River since Wednesday morning have slowed many of the smaller challengers to almost a standstill, meaning they missed their chance at silverware.

Seventy-five of the 83-strong race fleet are expected to have crossed the finish line by the end of Thursday.

Placegetters in the handicap leaderboard will be confirmed on Friday.

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