Ichi Ban number one in Sydney Hobart

A TACTIC of "driving it like it was stolen'' has delivered Matt Allen and his Ichi Ban team an against-the-odds overall victory in the Sydney to Hobart - along with two longstanding course records.

Thirty-three years after he achieved the result as a crewmen aboard the late Lou Abrahams yacht Challenge, Australian Sailing president Allen has lead his own team to a wet and wild provisional overall victory on the newest boat in the entire fleet.

And he did it with a crucial sail so badly ripped and battered "it will be a car cover by next week.''


Ichi Ban competing in the 2017 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
Ichi Ban competing in the 2017 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

"It was an unbelievable ride. This is my 28th Sydney to Hobart and it's not often you see it this good,'' said Allen, who applauded his crack crew team for pushing the limits for the entire race and will declared the official winner on Friday.

"We had water coming over the whole boat, we had water above our heads. We were buried in water for a long time and the boat just performed incredibly well.

"But what a ride.''

Ichi Ban's race could have been derailed by the sail damage which in its immediate aftermath saw the yacht crash from first to fifth in the race for the overall honours.

But "driving like demons", the crew made up crucial time with the 52-footer - whose name means No. 1 in Japanese - finishing around 10 hours behind provisional line honours winner Wild Oats X1.

The Mark Richards skippered supermaxi competed the course in the race record time of one day, eight hours, 48 minutes and 56 seconds but was later slugged with an hour penalty which gave Comanche the victory in 1 day 09:15.24.

Along with her win Ichi Ban also claimed two longstanding course records to become the fastest conventionally ballasted (fixed keel) yacht in history by beating Brindabella's 1999 mark of 1d 20h 46m 33s and also the fastest yacht under 55 feet by bettering Yendys 2008 record of 2:00:57.05.

But in the boat docked right next to Ichi Ban in Hobart, Quest helmsman Michael Green was feeling plenty of pain - and it wasn't just because he and his crewmates had lost the race to Ichi Ban.

Green was hit by a 35 knot gust after taking the helm of the 52-footer and as the boat broached, was thrown violently into the steering wheel, breaking it off its pedestal.

Sailing master Green was knocked unconscious briefly and injured his hip and hand.

Other crew were also knocked down and some went into the water but remarkably escaped serous injury.

"Our port steering wheel is gone,'' said skipper Bob Steel on arrival.

"The boat broached under spinnaker doing 20 knots in 30 knots and Greenie fell and took out the port wheel on the way through and a couple of other bodies who went through the rail.

"They were tethered and back on the boat quickly. It took half an hour of gardening to get back on track. "