The best photos from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2017

The venue

The 73rd edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race drew to a close earlier this week (January 1) with the local coastline providing a spectacular backdrop to the sailing action.

The racing yachts set off from Sydney Harbour on December 26 to begin the 628 nautical mile course, with Black Jack leading the way, closely followed by LDV Comanche and Wild Oats XI. A light easterly breeze of five to seven knots provided a serene start to this bluewater race.

John Markos, commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, said: “We’re thrilled the fleet got away and that the spectacle lingered longer than usual because of the light airs. The leaders were engaged from the off, which was exciting to watch, and the rest of the fleet came through pretty well.”

Photo: Rolex / Studio Borlenghi

The fleet

A grand total of 102 yachts made up the fleet for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2017, making it the biggest fleet since 2015 and one of the largest in recent years. Four vessels measured more than 100 foot (30.48 metres) LOA, including InfoTrack (ex-Pereptual Loyal) as well as the aforementioned Black Jack, Comanche and Wild Oats XI. The two other sizeable entries on the start line were Afanasy Isaev’s Grand Mistral 80 Weddell and Karl Kwok’s Botin 80 Beau Geste.

Photo: Rolex / Studio Borlenghi

LDV Comanche breaks another record

Launched in 2014 for serial yacht owner Jim Clark, Comanche has proven her racing pedigree many times over, winning Sydney Hobart 2015 and breaking the transatlantic monohull sailing record in summer 2016.

This continued at Rolex Sydney Hobart 2017, with new owner Jim Cooney at the helm of the renamed LDV Comanche. The Australian surrounded himself with an experienced team, including veteran navigator Stan Honey and America’s Cup star Jimmy Spithill. Together they set a new course record by crossing the finish line in one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds, shaving more than four hours off the previous record, set in 2016 by Perpetual Loyal.

Photo: Rolex

Comanche takes line honours

Despite crossing the finish line after Wild Oats XI, LDV Comache was adjudged to be the line honours winner following a protest room decision relating to a manoeuvre while steering through the Sydney Heads. This resulted in a one hour penalty for the Wild Oats XI team, giving LDV Comanche both the win and the course record.

“It was an exhilarating race. I loved every minute of it,” Cooney (pictured above, centre) said later. “The boat exceeded my expectations and who’d have thought we’d finish on the 27 December turning the Hobart into an overnighter!”

Photo: Rolex / Studio Borlenghi

The scenery

The appeal of the Rolex Sydney Hobart to skippers and crew is plain to see — there can be few more exhilarating sites than making landfall on Tasmania after the challenging crossing from the mainland. The Judel-Vrolijk designed 15 metre Duende was treated to a particularly stunning view of the Tasman coast, as the picture above shows.

Photo: Rolex / Studio Borlenghi

Dorade rolls back the years

Of course the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race isn’t just about cutting edge maxi sailors, with several classic yachts competing as well. The 52 foot (15.84 metre) Dorade is a case in point as she turned back the years to finish second in Division 4 on her Rolex Sydney Hobart debut, despite having more than 86 years of use under her keel. Launched by Sparkman & Stephens in 1931 she went on to win the Transatlantic Race in her debut season, a feat that was repeated in 2013.

Photo: Rolex / Studio Borlenghi

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