'Comanche' Defies Wild Weather, Damage To Win Sydney To Hobart Line Honours

28/12/2015 10:00 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Held together by three pieces of wire, damaged American supermaxi Comanche has won line honours in the 2015 Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

The $15 million vessel withstood significant weather damage to hold off Rambler 88 and head the fleet up the River Derwent to Constitution Dock in Hobart.

The supermaxi won the annual bluewater classic in two days, eight hours and 58 minutes. Perennial winner Wild Oats XI was forced to retire on Sunday after its main sail split in half in wild weather.

Australian supermaxi Ragamuffin 100 charged home to second place, with Rambler a close third.

Comanche was also set to retire Sunday after sustaining significant damage, but skipper Ken Read told the ABC that the crew changed their minds.

"We came here to finish, one way or another we'll finish this damn race," he said.

"We'll limp across the finish line -- even if we're paddling, we'll be there."

At the end of the race, Read told the waiting crowd and media the daggerboard -- a key stability device -- had broken and was threatening to puncture the hull.

In removing the daggerboard, the rudder was damaged, and ended up facing backwards.

“That’s when we said 'we’re done',” Read said. “We stopped and took all the sails down. We actually started kind of drifting back towards Sydney.

“And then all of a sudden I see the tools come out and when I see the tools come out with these guys that’s usually a good sign that they have an idea.

"All of a sudden you hear cutters and little grinders.”

The crew managed to patch the superyacht together.

“There’s three stainless threads holding the entire steering system together right now,” Read said.

Netscape founder and co-owner Jim Clark said he was only receiving patchy reports, and didn't realise the extent of the damage until he pulled up alongside.

Wife Kristy Hinze-Clark, a former Australian supermodel, was charged with piloting the boat towards Constitution Dock and becomes the first woman owner to win the prestigious race. Read praised her as "tough as nails" during the ordeal.

Eight-time champion Wild Oats XI offered a gracious tribute to the Comanche crew.

Click here to track the remainder of the Sydney to Hobart fleet in real time.

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