One of the favourites to take line honours in the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, LDV Comanche, was purchased today (14 December 2017) by Sydney’s Jim Cooney from its American owner Jim Clark, making the super maxi yacht an Australian owned and skippered entry when it starts the Boxing Day classic.
“LDV Comanche is a truly awe-inspiring yacht, and the chance to race to Hobart, alongside my children Julia and James with a world class crew, is a once in a lifetime opportunity too good to pass up. I started ocean racing 30 years ago and we have raced as a family in many parts of the world for 12 years, but this is an incredible opportunity for us to challenge for the world’s toughest blue water classic,” says Jim Cooney, who finished sixth on line in last year’s race at the helm of his Volvo 70 ‘Maserati’ and campaigned his iconic maxi Brindabella for seven years before that.
“This year competition is fierce, with the strongest line up of super maxis ever seen in one race. Depending on conditions, any of the 100 footers could take line honours, it threatens be one of the best races in the history of the event,” Cooney stated today.
Jim Cooney is the Chairman and majority shareholder of TCI Renewables, a professional wind energy development company headquartered in Oxford, UK. Jim is a Chartered Engineer who co-founded TCI in Australia in 1996 and successfully developed the business to span the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and the United States. He is an accomplished industry leader in renewable energy, specialising in wind energy, and under his direction TCI Renewables has developed some of the largest wind farms in the UK. In 2005 Jim was honoured with the prestigious Ernst & Young Australian Entrepreneur of the Year. He holds degrees from the University of Sydney, University of London and Imperial College, London.
LDV Comanche will continue to carry the colours of the Chinese vehicle manufacturer LDV, which is using the yacht and the race as part of the launch of its new LDV T60 Ute.
The crew on LDV Comanche reads like a who’s who of the sailing world and following the change in ownership, will gain some new names. As well as Jim Cooney, the crew will now include Jim’s son and daughter Julia and James Cooney alongside Waratah Jeremy Tilse.
The stellar crew includes three time America’s cup winner and 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Winner Jimmy Spithill (Australia); eleven time winner of the Transpac race and round the world race winner Stan Honey (USA); round the world race winner Brad Jackson (New Zealand); Olympic and round the world sailor Dirk de Ridder (Netherlands); multiple America’s Cup sailor and Rolex Sydney Hobart winner Warwick Fleury (New Zealand); America’s Cup sailor, Nick Burridge (New Zealand); Olympic, America’s Cup and round the world sailor Shannon Falcone (UK); Rolex Sydney Hobart race winner on Comanche, John Von Schwarz (USA); six time round the world racer and seven time America’s Cup competitor, Tony ‘Trae’ Rae (New Zealand); Sydney Hobart winner on board Comanche and the sport’s world renowned ‘Mr Fixit’, Casey Smith (Australia); Extreme sailing expert Stuart Pollard (Australia); round the world sailor Justin Slattery (Ireland); Rolex Sydney Hobart winner on Comanche Keats Keeley (USA); round the world sailor David Rolfe (Australia); and project manager Tim Hackett who has managed some of the leading teams around the world.
Launched as ‘Comanche’, and now called ‘LDV Comanche’ for the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, the 100 foot maxi racing yacht holds a remarkable list of records, all of which show her to be the ideal yacht for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. The yacht holds the 24 hour sailing distance record for monohulls and the trans-Atlantic crossing record of 5 days, 14 hours, 21 minutes and 25 seconds. In addition to the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, she won the no less tough Fastnet Race. This year she smashed the monohull record in the Transpac race with an average speed of 20.2 knots.
‘LDV Comanche’s nickname, "the aircraft carrier", gives away what sets her apart from two of her rivals, Black Jack and Wild Oats XI. Indeed, her beam at the stern is so great it could accommodate both Black Jack and Wild Oats XI. Her optimum heel angle is anything over 20 degrees and she has the same wetted surface as Wild Oats XI at 25 degrees. The 46 metre/150 feet high mast sits directly above the canting keel and she designed deliberately to be able to – just – slip under Sydney Harbour Bridge. The mast has a static load of 75 tonnes and 150 tonnes under sail, or, to put it another way, the same weight as 80 LDV T60 Utes hanging from the mast.
Suspended from the mast is a 410 square metre mainsail, which will carry a massive picture of an LDV T60 Ute for the race. In downwind configuration, this expands to a massive 1022 square metres and the largest spinnaker is 1100 square metres. Under the yacht is a canting keel that may be swung out 35 degrees in either direction in as little as 25 seconds, while there is space on either side of the hull for 6.5 tonnes of water in the ballast tanks.