“We‘re the best light air boat and this race was anything but. We really needed a two-night race,” was how Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford summed up their race after finishing third across the line and an hour inside the old race record set by Perpetual Loyal last year.
“We’re surprised that this boat could break that record,” Bradford said.
“We are not configured to reach down the coast at 25 knots. These guys drove the boat a lot faster than it wanted to go a lot of the time. For them to get that result is just fantastic,” owner Peter Harburg agreed.
“It was a tough race. We were driving the boat as fast it would go. It was tough but it was fun.”
Bradford was full of praise for Comanche and Wild Oats XI.
“They both motored in these conditions, and it’s good to see Oats back, too. It validates a lot of the changes they’ve made to their boat.
“A lot of people have been critical for a number of years but they have proved they are quite close to Comanche. Comanche had a commanding lead and for them to reel them back in is testament to that group and their thinking.”
Of course, Bradford and Harburg desperately wanted to be on the Derwent with Wild Oats XI and Comanche when they were fighting it out in light airs, her conditions.
“We need to get into Tasman about half an hour earlier,” Bradford said. “They got across Storm Bay pretty nicely but it was really tricky for us. If we could have got to the Iron Pot when they were halfway up the drain (the river) it may been have been a different outcome.”
Harburg said they would live to fight another day.
“Hopefully we have got another five years in it. It was a five-year program when we bought the boat, so maybe we’ll win the next four, eh.”
No-one else has ever done their first Rolex Sydney Hobart, their first proper ocean race really, on board their very own 100-foot super-maxi. And done it inside the record time set by that very same boat a year ago. Christian Beck has done both now, riding InfoTrack into 4th place across the line, around an hour inside the record time set by what was then called Perpetual Loyal.
A complete novice to ocean racing, Beck looked relaxed, happy, and not a little relieved that he had made it to Hobart tonight.
“It’s hard, very hard, but worth it in the end”, he said. “It wasn’t fun during the race, it was scary at times. A lot of stuff breaking. The scariest thing was the sail changes at night with big waves washing over the boat. It’s one of those things that are more fun thinking about it later than during the race.”
Prior to the race Beck famously described InfoTrack as a “shitbox”, and there were times over the past 2 days when he thought that, yep, that’s about right. “The jib fell down 10 minutes after we left the Heads. We hauled it out of the water, put it back up, and 20 minutes later it happened again. Railings were being ripped off. I thought the boat was falling apart. It has made it an expensive trip.”
He never dreamed that InfoTrack would get here so quickly, let alone ahead of Beau Geste and Wizard, the V70 that won last years race as Giacomo. He puts the former down to the exceptional conditions, and the latter to a skilled crew that just drove the boat as hard as they could.
So, is Christian beck up for a 2nd Rolex Sydney Hobart next year? “I’ve been talking the boat down a bit lately so no-one will buy it. I’ll have to come back.”
By Jim Gale and Bruce Montgomery, RSHYR media