After leading the ‘big five’ out of Sydney Harbor (Robert Oatley’s Wild Oats XI, Andrew Bell’s Perpetual Loyal, Sid Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100, and George David’s Rambler 88), super maxi Comanche incurred sudden damage to their starboard rudder on Saturday night. From near retirement that first night to a repair and re-entry, further maintaining their lead to the final hours, the team exceeded all expectations in reaching the dock in Hobart with line honors.
“We had to get rid of the daggerboard, which was attached by a number of lines, dragging under the boat and damaging the bottom of the hull with every wave. When we cut it free we saved the hull, but the board flew back and took out the rudder and simultaneously wrecked the steering system inside the boat. The tiller arm got broken off,” recounted Ken Read, North Sails President and skipper of yacht Comanche.
“When we finally inspected the rudder, we saw that it was facing backward. That’s when we said “well, we are done.” We took the sails down and started drifting back toward Sydney.”
“That’s when I saw the tools come out.” He continued, explaining that is a sign the crew has a solution. Upon their victorious arrival at Constitution Dock, the boat’s steering system was holding on by three stainless threads.
While at sea, the after-guard unanimously decided it was safe to push on. “We are here to sail the Sydney-Hobart Race first and to be successful second,” Read explained, later stating “…We came here to finish, one way or another we’re going to finish this damn race!” With that, the crew proceeded to sail the boat back into first place and onto the finish.
Americas Cup skipper Jimmy Spithill gave all credit to the resourceful team onboard, “Full credit to Casey* and the boys for getting it fixed, because we were on our way back to Sydney! That’s what this race is about, I’d be surprised if any of the boats got through unscathed. Again, good on the crew for getting us through it.”
Comanche claimed line honors with a race time of 2 days 8hrs 58min 30 sec, with George David’s Rambler 88 trailing close behind until the wind utterly died just a few miles from shore. Rambler 88 recently finished in third place and VO70 Maserati in fourth. Comanche, Rambler 88, and Maserati all raced with complete North Sails inventories.
Other North-powered boats duked it out for top finishes, including Rupert Henry’s Chinese Whisper and Matthew Allen’s Ichi Ban, who finished within ten seconds of each other to claim IRC DIV 0. French boat Teasing Machine currently leads IRC3 with 11 miles to go! Track the fleet live at: http://bit.ly/1JdKytM
*Casey Smith is boat captain of Comanche and led the charge on repairing the steering system while at sea.