Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Comanche may have Indian sign over competition

Published on January 7, 2015 by   ·   No Comments

Now entering its 70th year, the 628-mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Race is one of the highest-profile and most challenging offshore races on the international circuit.

Kicking off on Boxing Day, it will attract hundreds of thousands of spectators at the starting line with millions more following the action on TV and online.

This year one yacht in particular has earned itself ‘talk of the town’ crown, and that’s Comanche.

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This 100-ft supermaxi is aiming to take line honours, and break a record or two along the way, but remarkably only took to the sea for the first time on 13 October this year – so she can hardly claim a race-winning pedigree.

However she was designed by the pros (French Naval Architect Guillaume Verdier together with award-winning firm VPLP), built by the pros (America’s oldest shipbuilding company, 1816-established Hodgdon Yachts) and financed by one of the world’s richest men (billionaire American entrepreneur and computer scientist Jim Clark, who just happens to be married to Kristy Hinze-Clark, a former supermodel hailing from Australia – thus earning Comanche the full support of the home crowd Down Under) so we shouldn’t bet against her.

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Built in the space of a year (so you could say she’s already a race winner, against time anyway) black-and red-liveried Comanche is at the very cutting edge of yacht design and has been crafted to reach speeds of 40 mph, almost 35 knots.

 

Clark said the process was like “building a Formula One car from scratch although hopefully not quite as expensive” and his main hope is that “the boat stays in one piece”.

 

The man who is part responsible for Comanche’s physical integrity is Ken Read, Comanche’s skipper who has overseen the project since day one.

The America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veteran has already admitted to having some serious sleepless nights about Comanche’s debut on the water. He said, “I wish Sydney-Hobart wasn’t the first race, in fact you couldn’t choose a worst race for our first race.

 

It’s like we’ve gone straight from the gym to the heavyweight championship of the world. And it could end up like an F1 car blowing its engine on its first outing on the track. And these are not inherently safe boats as they’re built on the cutting edge. We just don’t know.” Crikey.

But so far so good, after a few days’ successful sea trials (put it this way, her impressive performances plastered a rather broad smile on Ken Read’s face) Comanche left New England’s Rhode Island early September for Charleston South Carolina where she joined a transport vessel to take her to the 119-boat line-up in Sydney.

Once she was on her way, Tim Hodgdon, CEO of Hodgdon, said “all of us at Hodgdon are proud to have been associated with this important build, and we wish Jim, Kristy, Kenny and the entire crew all the best for Sydney-Hobart and all of their racing ventures.”

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After the Sydney Hobart, Jim plans to enter Comanche into the Transpac, Transatlantic, Fastnet and Middle Sea competitions, win a few, break some records, and then sell her on in a couple of years – most likely at a loss.

Said to have cost 100 million dollars to build, Jim Clark seems particularly nonplussed about spending around a fourteenth of his wealth on a toy that depreciates in value as soon as it’s sailed. “People spend money on sports and I just don’t do golf, I hate it,” said the 70-year-old. “But I love sailing and the technology aspect.”

Have a watch of Comanche in action off the coast of the US – breathtaking.

Comanche Sails!! FAST!! from Onne van der Wal on Vimeo.

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