Black Jack claims Sydney to Hobart victory in slowest race since 2004
Black Jack has overcome a rocky preparation and rugged seas to take out line honours with the slowest Sydney to Hobart victory time in 17 years.
The Monaco-registered, 100-foot supermaxi crossed the River Derwent finish line in darkness at 1.37am AEDT on Wednesday.
Its time of two days, 12 hours, 37 minutes and 17 seconds was the slowest since Nicorette III’s win in 2004.
Black Jack had been locked in a tight three-way tussle down Tasmania’s east coast with LawConnect, which finished second trailing by about two-and-a-half hours, and third-placed SHK Scallywag 100.
This year’s fleet was decimated by rough seas on Sunday and Monday, with 36 of the 88-strong starting field forced to retire.
“It was tough in the beginning. The first 30 hours were pretty rugged,” Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford said.
“We had a tough race with both the other (supermaxis). We dropped Scallywag at the end for a bit but she came back and LawConnect was right there the whole way.”
Black Jack previously claimed line honours in the 628 nautical mile bluewater classic in 2009 under the name Alfa Romeo.
It finished fifth in the most recent Sydney to Hobart in 2019 and was second to Wild Oats XI by just 28 minutes in a 2018 thriller.
Owner Peter Harburg for the first time did not race with Black Jack but was at Constitution Dock in Hobart to greet his team after riding them home.
“It is very emotional. It is the grand prize of yachting in Australia. For me it’s the first time I’ve been involved in a winning team,” he said.
“I don’t know whether I want to cry or laugh or give Mark another hug. I can’t describe it.”
Black Jack missed a chance to compete against LawConnect and SHK Scallywag 100 in the inaugural Australian maxi championship earlier this month because a crew member tested positive for Covid-19.
Their program had already suffered a setback when the boat’s mast broke in the Brisbane-Gladstone race in April.
“We started with a 66-footer as Black Jack and we’ve worked up to this,” Harburg said.
“We’ve won every race on the east coast of Australia and we’ve beaten every other yacht on the east coast of Australia at different times.
“But this is the prize that has eluded us all along.”
Bradford said Black Jack only suffered minor breakages in a race where many smaller competitors have reported hull damage and other serious issues.