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Published: Thursday, 05 January 2017

Skippered by Anthony Bell, Perpetual LOYAL has broken the race record set by Wild Oats XI in 2012 by nearly five hours –one day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds of 72nd edition of Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in Australia Dec 26-Jan 1, while the Volvo 70 Giacomo owned by Auckland-based wine producer Jim Delegat finished second and became the champion of the race, who was awarded the Tattersall’s Cup and Rolex timepiece.

Giacomo Wins At Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 7

(Photos: Daniel Forster / Rolex - Giacomo)

Returning to the race for the third time, Giacomo set the second fastest time in the history of the race. She sailed across Storm Bay and along the notorious 11nm stretch of the Derwent River in good breeze, which offered such difficult sailing to others that no yacht would be able to surpass her handicap time. She was confirmed as the overall winner on Thursday Dec 29.

“We had a wonderful 2013 and a heartbreaking 2014, when we lost our mast off the Tasmanian coast,” he says. “It was soul-destroying and a personal loss for the crew. It was difficult to get over in the next months.”

Giacomo Wins At Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2

(Jim Delegat)

Delegat sailed with his two sons – Nikolas and James – the latter at 18 the youngest sailor in the fleet. “We had a wonderful 2013 and a heartbreaking 2014, when we lost our mast off the Tasmanian coast,” he says. “It was soul-destroying and a personal loss for the crew. It was difficult to get over in the next months.”

“It really comes down to high quality execution, timeliness, keeping the boat moving. This is the most physically demanding race,” says Delegat. “We weren’t really able to put a proper watch system into place, constantly bringing people back on deck for sail changes. Winning – it’s what dreams are made of. The legendary nature of the race and the remoteness of us achieving the win... it’s rewarding and exciting.”

Giacomo Wins At Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 6

(Record-breaking Perpetual LOYAL)

It is the 12th time the race record has been broken since John Illingworth and his crew on the 30ft British Rani set a time of just under a week in 1945.

Bell’s 100ft Maxi failed to make it to Horbart in the last two editions and this time, the Skipper strengthened his crew by introducing a few members who claimed line honours with American Maxi Comanche, the Australian sailor and former Rolex World Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby. The crew were the first to reach Sydney Heads among the 88 international competitors. She then duelled with Wild Oats XI, skippered by Mark Richards, down the New South Wales coast. Yet, a hydraulic ram fault forced Wild Oats XI to retire.

Giacomo Wins At Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

(Anthony Bell)

“Calmness and coolness on our boat was the thing that got us through,” says Bell. “The most important part was that we had nothing to lose. It defies a lot of the worries we had. It is one for the true believers.”

Charles Caudrelier and a mixed French and Chinese crew aboard the Cookson 50 UBOX finished in third place on handicap.

Giacomo Wins At Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 8

(UBOX)

UBOX is owned by the Chinese entrepreneur Wang Bin and the entry in the Sydney-Hobart was part of the training build-up for Dongfeng Race Team as it prepares for next year's Volvo Ocean Race. The Dongfeng team's Volvo Ocean 65 race yacht is currently in refit in Lisbon in Portugal but will emerge from the shed in mid-January, ready to begin the campaign proper in February.

Caudrelier, who will skipper the Chinese entry Dongfeng in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race and who was using the Australian classic to test out crew, was delighted to have completed his first Hobart in good shape, his white monohull crossing the line in 13th place on the water.

"I think we were very lucky with the weather. The last day we paid a bit, but it was good for our Chinese rookies. They did a very good job," he says as his crew celebrated on the dockside at Hobart after a slow final few miles up the Derwent River to the line.

Giacomo Wins At Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 9

(Charles Caudrelier and crew)

On UBOX Caudrelier had a big communications challenge to marshall his 12-strong crew made up of French sailors and a group of young Chinese rookies with little offshore experience. But they managed to handle the powerful conditions without mishap.

"The start from Sydney was truly magical, with hundreds of boats around,” says Caudrelier. “The finish was awesome too, with the dockside rammed with people in Hobart and a festive atmosphere, even though it was pouring with rain.

"The start of the race was very fast before a transition that we had to negotiate during the first night. It was a small low-pressure centre that we managed to deal with pretty well. Then we were released in 20 knots downwind – a great day's sailing and rare conditions for this race.”

Giacomo Wins At Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 3

(Dark & Stormy)

Eighty-three of the 88 crews who commenced the 72nd Rolex Sydney Hobart finished the 628nm race.

 “For most of us it’s about finishing,” explains Sean Langman, who was born on a boat in Sydney and has sailed the race 26 times on all kinds of yacht. “Anyone who finishes this race is a winner. It’s about the journey, the preparation, the camaraderie, having Christmas Dinner but your thoughts drifting to where you really want to be, which is on the sea the next day for the start of the race.”

This year the race welcomed 12 overseas entries from 10 countries. This included the Swedish team on the 44ft Matador. Owner Jonas Grander only stepped foot on his boat for the first time 10 days before the race and his knowledge of the Rolex Sydney Hobart was drawn from articles and video clips. “It’s such a legendary race. To take part is a matter of expanding yourself and getting to know yourself a little bit more. To plan something like this from the other side of the planet takes a lot of preparation. Is it impossible? No, it isn’t. And if it’s possible, you can make it.”

Giacomo Wins At Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 5

(Elena Nova)

As Title Sponsor of the race since 2002, Rolex identifies with the race’s essence, the commitment and dedication of those who take part, the notion of passion, friendship and an unrelenting desire to overcome all challenges.

Proceedings closed with the official prizegiving organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. The next edition will start Dec 26 2017.

Giacomo Wins At Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 11

(Rolex Engraved Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 40 presented to the winners)

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