Comache continues her journey south. Picture: ROLEX/CARLO BORLENGHI
Comache continues her journey south. Picture: ROLEX/CARLO BORLENGHI

Comanche stakes claim for back-to-back trophies

COMANCHE has staked its claim for back-to-back line honours titles in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race by regaining the lead in a four-way battle and the slowest race since 2015.

As the leading four supermaxis sailed past Flinders Island off Tasmania's north-east coast at midday on day two of the 74th edition of the race, Comanche had completed its amazing comeback to head the fleet from fellow-100 footers Black Jack, Infotrack and Wild Oats XI.

Only four nautical miles separated first from fourth.

As four yachts - worth a combined $20 million - sailed within plain sight of each other, the Sydney-Hobart race computer had Comanche reaching the finish at about 8am Friday.

That would be the slowest race since Comanche took line honours for the first time in 2015 under her original owners, US billionaire Jim Clark and his Australian supermodel wife Kristy Hinze.

Comanche's 2017 race record was out of reach - the winner would have to cross before 10.15pm Thursday to beat that mark.

Tasmanian yacht Alive, a 66-footer owned by Phil Turner, is the best of the rest, holding down fifth ahead of Wild Oats X, crewed by an all-female team.

Wild Oats XI had slipped to fourth.
Wild Oats XI had slipped to fourth.

During the morning Wild Oats XI slipped from the race lead to fourth, despite its modifications designed to make her faster in light breezes.

The Oats crew says it is anyone's race.

"We crossed tacks with Comanche a couple of times this morning between 3am and 4am," said Wild Oats crewman Chris Links.

"We can see Black Jack too. There's nothing in it.

"This is the closest race we've been in - we've been in close races with Comanche before, but never been in such a close race with four of us."

It is early days to talk overall contenders, but it will be no surprise to anyone that Matt Allen's TP52, Ichi Ban, continues to be one of the leaders for the Tattersall Cup.

Bruce Taylor's Caprice 40 Chutzpah is revelling in the conditions, and is currently in second place from the Carkeek 60, Winning Appliances, and Ray Roberts' Farr 55, Hollywood Boulevard.

A fourth retirement from the race occurred overnight, with M3 Team Hungary, led by Roni Ormandlaki, on her way back to Sydney.

She joins other early retirements, Zen (NSW), Scallywag (Hong Kong) and Patriot (Vic), leaving the fleet at 81 and nine internationals.