Black Jack takes out line honours in 2021 yacht race

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Monaco Yacht Club super-maxi Black Jack has claimed line honours in an at-times difficult Sydney to Hobart yacht race that was beset by heavy seas before ending under the lightest of breezes.

The Peter Harburg-owned, Mark Bradford-skippered 100-footer held a comfortable lead from fellow super-maxis LawConnect and SHK Scallywag as she crawled up the Derwent River early this morning.

She crossed the line shortly after 1.30am in a time of two days, 12 hours, 37 minutes and 17 seconds, the slowest since Nicorette in 2004.

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From the 88 yachts that started on Boxing Day, nearly half of the fleet had withdrawn for various reasons, with many affected by heavy seas.

“What a magnificent effort to get through the rough stuff and then get through the calms and just drift across the finishing line,” former Sydney to Hobart winner Peter Shipway said on the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia telecast.

“Fabulous effort, a wonderful reward to this crew who tried so hard for a number of years to take the prize and now it’s theirs.”

This year’s 628-nautical mile event (about 720 miles; 1,170 kilometres) 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.

In 2017, Comanche set the 628 nautical-mile race record in one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds.

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.

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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.

Last year’s race was cancelled 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 honours 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.”

– with AP

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