Hobart, Australia (December 29, 2021) – Black Jack sailed across the Castray Esplanade finish line in Hobart at 01:37:17 this morning, claiming line honors in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, in the time of two days 12 hours 37 minutes 17 seconds.
Right up until late last evening, it was unclear which of the three 100-foot boats would be the victor. SHK Scallywag led out of Sydney Heads on Boxing Day, but had her share of troubles after, paving the way for Black Jack and LawConnect to fight it out.
Black Jack rounded Tasman Island at 9:50pm last evening, her navigator Alex Nolan giving an ETA at the finish line of 02:15am. The hooter from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s finish boat sounded inside that time, but well outside the race record of 01:09:15:24 set by LDV Comanche (Jim Cooney/Samantha Grant) in 2017.
It was never going to be a quick race, or an easy one. The Bureau of Meteorology predicted harsh southerlies and confused seas from the first afternoon and the prediction was correct.
On the dock to greet the crew was the yacht’s owner, Peter Harburg, who for the first time, did not sail on the yacht. The Queensland yachtsman elected to stay ashore this year, “and let the crew do what they do best.” So he left the boat in the capable hands of his long-time skipper and friend, Mark Bradford.
Harburg has contested eight Sydney Hobarts, all but one on his own yachts, named Black Jack, in honor of car racing legend and friend Sir Jack Brabham. In 2008 it was with his Reichel/Pugh 66 when they finished sixth over the line. That boat was ultimately sold. It was renamed Alive and went on to win the 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart.
Deciding to upsize, the yachtsman purchased the VOR 70 Telefonica in 2013, and in 2017 bought the 2009 line honors winner Alfa Romeo. This morning’s victory makes it the boat’s second – this time as Black Jack.
Harburg said last evening “It’s a nervous wait. I’ve never felt this feeling before. It’s strange because I’ve always been on the boat when its racing and you keep busy. You don’t think about it the way you do when you’re ashore waiting.”
The wait was worth it, to see Black Jack cross the finish line in first place – Harburg’s first line honors victory.
The 628 nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be the 76th edition in 2021 with a fleet of 88 boats that include three international entries. One hundred fifty seven teams set off in 2019 for the 75th edition, but since then the 2020 race was cancelled due to the pandemic and uncertainty has hovered this year.
From the start in Sydney Harbour, the fleet sails out into the Tasman Sea, down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait (which divides the mainland from the island State of Tasmania), then down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turns right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to the historic port city of Hobart.