Skipper Mark Bradford believes Black Jack’s second place finish over the line in the Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race is another sign the crew knows how to “get the best out of the boat”.
Peter Harburg’s Reichel/Pugh 100 finished just over 1 hour 15 minutes behind Line Honours winner Andoo Comanche.
Black Jack led out of Sydney Heads and stayed at the front of the fleet for much of the race until Andoo Comanche went further out to sea and picked up speed on Sunday afternoon/evening.
"The first part really suited us and Hamilton Island Wild Oats," Bradford said of the light breeze at the start of the 384 nautical mile race.
"When the wind comes up, Andoo Comanche gets going. It appears they can roll at about nine knots. They can get on their way and at that point you can’t really hold them back.
"The plan is just to try to get as far ahead as you can and hope you can jag a little puff here and there.
"For the most part, it went well for us, but they got going in the end and full credit to them."
But Bradford was pleased with Black Jack’s performance as the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Line Honours winner continues her good form.
"We've now got this boat on rails," he said. "We know what to do in every condition, what sail pack to go with.
"There are a whole lot of scenarios with sails you can use and balance.
"It’s taken us quite a few years to get here. That sensation of when the boat is really rocking is fantastic."
The Oatley Family’s Reichel/Pugh 100 Hamilton Island Wild Oats, formerly named Wild Oats XI, returned to the Australian race track for the first time since 2019.
She finished third over the line, just over an hour behind Black Jack.
Skipper Mark Richards reflected: "It was a really tricky race, a lot harder than people think. It was very tactical, a lot of sail changes. It was cold, it was rough.
"A lot of the time we had 15-20 knots of breeze on the nose and very confused seas, so it was a lot more challenging than we all expected at the start
"We haven’t sailed the boat for three years. Black Jack have been out there doing a lot of sailing and they really showed that in the race against us.
"Andoo Comanche was in amazing form. I think they went past us at Port Stephens upwind doing an extra three knots. It’s a pretty incredible machine which is fascinating to watch but not too good when you’re on another boat."
Hamilton Island Wild Oats holds the record for Line Honours wins in the Noakes Sydney Gold Coast (6) and Rolex Sydney Hobart (9).
Richards and co. will look to build more momentum ahead of their return to the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
"I’m just super happy we got here in one piece; we didn’t break any gear and the team did a great job," he said.
"We made the most of the situation, it just wasn’t good enough this time.
"The reality is these boats are hard to sail and when you haven’t sailed a lot, it comes home pretty quickly how challenging it can be.
"I was really proud of everyone. It was a good result and we’re happy to get back into the saddle."
Sean Langman’s Reichel/Pugh 69 Moneypenny was fourth across the line, finishing strongly to move into the overall lead on IRC.
The 52-footers, mostly due in later this evening, are Moneypenny’s main competition, with Gweilo, Zen, Ichi Ban, Celestial, Quest and Patrice all looking to challenge for the Peter Rysdyk Memorial Trophy.