on 6 Jan 2022
Black Jack takes line honours in a tough race that caused numerous retirements
The 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race saw line honours go to RP100 Black Jack in a nail biting finish, beating the Juan-K 100 LawConnect by about 2.5 hours. Hong Kong-based SHK Scallywag, skippered by David Witt, was third over the line, just 20 minutes behind, dashing Witt’s hopes for a first-ever line honours win. All three yachts finished the final leg up the Derwent River to Hobart in the wee hours of the morning.
The overall win on time correction was eventually secured by Matt Allen’s 52-foot (15.85 metre) Ichi Ban, who sailed over the finish line about 12 hours after SHK Scallywag. Ichi Ban was the overall winner in 2017 and 2019, making it the first yacht and crew the first to win the Tattersall Cup in back-to-back races since Freya in the 1960s.
“It is amazing to be part of the history and fabric of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race,” said Matt Allen, who has competed in the Sydney Hobart Race 31 times, starting in 1980 at just 17 years old. “Most races to Hobart do test the entire boat and crew, but I think this year’s probably more than ever. The wave conditions we saw through the first 24 hours really caused big issues for the boats. Then to have that very complicated tactical situation for the rest of the race really [meant] decision-making was absolutely critical.”
This year’s race had two very different halves. The lead up to the 2021 race was overshadowed by the prospect of a tough first 24 to 48 hours, with strong southerly winds combining with opposing current to build a threatening sea state. Over one-third of the 88-strong fleet ultimately retired from the race, including 2018 Overall Winner Alive.
For those that made it through the tough opening phase, there was shifting weather patterns and complex tactical racing to follow. The three 100-foot Maxis were in a tough fight over the entire 628nm course, with SHK Scallywag leading out of the harbour but suffering a sail handling problem that let her rivals get past.
LawConnect then traded the lead with Black Jack, until Peter Harburg’s Monegasque flagged and Australian-crewed entry acted decisively in the light winds to build an advantage in the drift up the Derwent River to Hobart.
Organised since 1945 by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, with the support of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, the race has been partnered by Rolex since 2002. The 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race was the 76th running of the event, which suffered the only postponement in its history in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions.