Andoo Comanche has claimed line honours in the Sydney to Hobart for the fourth time, marking a triumphant return for the supermaxi after a brief hiatus.
The 100-foot yacht crossed the River Derwent finish line shortly before 1am (AEDT) on Wednesday with a time of one day, 11 hours, 56 minutes and 48 seconds.
Andoo Comanche, which had not sailed the 628-nautical mile bluewater classic since tasting success in 2019, has now claimed line honours in four of the past seven races.
She held off a strong challenge in darkness down the River Derwent from LawConnect, which finished about 27 minutes later.
Last year’s line honours victor Black Jack was third, while nine-time winner Hamilton Island Wild Oats finished in fourth place.
Andoo Comanche skipper John Winning Jr was joined on the crossing by his father, who had competed in the Sydney to Hobart race back in the 1970s.
“It’s pretty emotional. These are the types of things that you look back on and say you’re glad you got those opportunities,” Winning Jr said.
“He’s a big golfer and I hate golf, so it’s the only sport we can do together.”
Winning Jr dedicated the victory to “dear friend” Matt Munting, who helped him set up his extreme sports venture Andoo X.
Andoo Comanche set the pace down Australia’s east coast despite a poor start on Boxing Day.
Winning Jr said his crew had to navigate some “hairy” moments in the early stages, made more difficult by spectator zones that narrowed the course.
The supermaxi also hit a 10-foot log early in the race, suffering a chip to her rudder.
Winning Jr said he was worried about the winds dying in the notoriously fickle River Derwent.
“(Winning the race) didn’t feel real until the last minute. It means a hell of a lot,” he said.
Andoo Comanche, the pre-race favourite, was at one stage on track to break the line honours record time – one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds – she set in 2017 but ultimately missed out by almost three hours.
She is the first yacht to take out Sydney to Hobart line honours under three different owners or skippers.
Andoo Comanche was one of two supermaxis forced to take penalty turns during a dramatic start to the race in Sydney on Monday.
The overall race winner, decided on handicap, will be decided in the coming days.
Just three yachts have so far retired from the starting fleet of 109, a far cry from 2021’s race when 36 boats pulled the pin across the first two days in rough weather.
The Sydney to Hobart was not held in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.