Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

law connect yacht history wikipedia

Last year, LawConnect finished second over the line to Black Jack . In 2019, when known as InfoTrack , she caused a sensation with her brilliant second over the line; 44 minutes 18 seconds astern of Comanche after a five-way 100-footer battle to Hobart. She finished fourth over the line in 2018 as InfoTrack , after a protracted battle with the rest in conditions not suited to her heavy weight. With a larger bowsprit to enhance performance, she took 2021 Cabbage Tree Island Race Line Honours. Beck bought the former Speedboat/Rambler/Perpetual Loyal from Anthony Bell in 2017, renamed her InfoTrack and finished fourth on line in the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart (but an infringement dropped her to 24 th ), inside the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart record set by this yacht.

Despite a few bumps along the way, this boat continues to defy her critics. When owned by Bell, it retired from the 2014 and 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobarts after finishing second on line in 2013. Beck continues the tradition of taking a few employees along for their first taste of the race, an unbelievable opportunity for these non-sailors. 

Competitor Details

Yacht Name LawConnect
Sail Number SYD1000
Owner Christian Beck
Skipper Christian Beck (4)
Sailing Master Tony Mutter (8)
Crew Rachel Beck (1), Curtis Blewett (2), Lucas Chapman (8), Dylan Clarke (2), James Connelly, Graeme Dunlop (6), Alexander Gough (4), Carlos Hernandez Robayna, Mustafa Ingham (3), Brad Jackson (11), Chris Lewis, Chris Nicholson (8), Ty Oxley (20), Payal Pattanaik, Matt Pearce (22), Ryan Phillips (2), Gavin Smith (1), Troy Tindill (12), Mitch White (19), Charlie Wyatt (2)
State NSW
Club CYCA
Type Juan-K 100
Designer Juan Kouyoumdjian (Arg)
Builder Boatspeed/Cookson
Construction Carbon
LOA 30.48
Beam 7.4
Draft 6.2

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Lawconnect skipper’s son reveals he called the boat a ‘s***box’ the night before it won sydney to hobart.

Caleb Taylor

The son of LawConnect’s skipper admitted he called the yacht a ‘s***box’ the night before it won against the world’s fastest superyacht Andoo Comanche in this year’s Sydney to Hobart.

Indy Beck, son of LawConnect’s Christian Beck, admitted he didn’t think his dad would get over the line first in the globally famous yacht race.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Watch LawConnect win The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

“I thought it was (over and) done for us — I don’t believe it to be honest,” Indy told Sunrise’s Annie Pullar on Thursday.

“It’s like, the greatest comeback in sailing, I reckon.

“It was absolutely amazing.”

Law Connect skipper’s son, Indy Beck, called the vessel a ‘s***box’ before it won the race.

Annie mentioned she bumped into Indy at a Hobart pub on Wednesday, and he was less than thrilled over the performance of the yacht before the win.

“I ran into you yesterday, what did you call the boat?” Annie asked.

“It’s a s***box,” Indy answered, smiling sheepishly.

Indy admitted he has since changed his mind about the yacht, following the sensational win.

“(It’s) amazing. I still can’t believe it — especially the win on a boat like that,” he said.

LawConnect had a torn sail, which he believed might have helped the team coming into the Derwent River.

LawConnect beat Andoo Comanche by nine seconds — the second-closest time in the race’s history — with the two yachts neck-and-neck.

Law Connect beat Andoo Comanche by nine seconds — the second-closest time in the race’s history.

Andoo Comanche is known as the fastest super-maxi in the world.

Sunrise star Mark Beretta couldn’t contain his excitement over the win.

“This is incredible — LawConnect have done it,” Mark said, beaming.

“Christian Beck, fourth-time lucky — three-times they’ve been runner-up in this race.

“This is just remarkable. What a finish. Unbelievable.”

Mark called the win ‘unbelievable’ after Law Connect crossed live on the show.

Mark also spoke about the historic nature of the win.

“One of the closest finishes in Sydney to Hobart history,” he said.

“Comanche, which is regarded as the fastest supermaxi in the world, has been beaten in the Sydney-Hobart.

“That is a massive result - a great effort from the team on LawConnect.”

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LAWCONNECT is a 33.59 m Sail Yacht, built in Australia by Cookson and delivered in 2008.

Her top speed is 20.0 kn. She has a 7.35 m beam.

She was designed by Juan Yacht Design , who also completed the naval architecture. Juan Yacht Design has designed 5 yachts and created the naval architecture for 5 yachts for yachts above 24 metres.

LAWCONNECT is one of 387 sailing yachts in the 30-35m size range, and, compared to similarly sized sailing yachts, her top speed is 8.29 kn above the average.

LAWCONNECT is currently sailing under the Australia flag (along with a total of other 164 yachts). She is known to be an active superyacht and has most recently been spotted cruising near Australia. For more information regarding LAWCONNECT's movements, find out more about BOAT Pro AIS .

Specifications

  • Name: LAWCONNECT
  • Previous Names: VIRGIN SPEEDBOAT,RAMBLER 100,PERPETUAL LOYAL,INFOTRACK
  • Yacht Type: Sail Yacht
  • Yacht Subtype: Racing Yacht
  • Builder: Cookson
  • Naval Architect: Juan Yacht Design
  • Exterior Designer: Juan Yacht Design

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51 seconds apart after 628 nautical miles: LawConnect edges Comanche in Sydney to Hobart race

Comanche heads down Sydney Harbour during the start of the Sydney Hobart yacht race in Sydney, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023. The 630-nautical mile race has more than 100 yachts starting in the race to the island state of Tasmania. (Salty Dog/CYCA via AP)

Comanche heads down Sydney Harbour during the start of the Sydney Hobart yacht race in Sydney, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023. The 630-nautical mile race has more than 100 yachts starting in the race to the island state of Tasmania. (Salty Dog/CYCA via AP)

Skallywag, left, and Comanche sail close during the start of the Sydney Hobart yacht race in Sydney, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023. The 630-nautical mile race has more than 100 yachts starting in the race to the island state of Tasmania. (Salty Dog/CYCA via AP)

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HOBART, Australia (AP) — LawConnect won line honors in the 78th edition of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Thursday, holding off defending champion Andoo Comanche by less than a minute in an exciting finish between the super maxis.

The pair of 100-foot yachts had dueled for much of the race and were well ahead of the rest of the fleet of 103 yachts that started the race on Tuesday in Sydney harbor.

LawConnect, which was runner-up in the last three editions of the race, finished in 1 day, 19 hours, 3 minutes, 58 seconds. Comanche’s time was 1 day, 19 hours, 4 minutes, 49 seconds — a margin of just 51 seconds.

It was the second-closest finish in Sydney to Hobart history after Condor of Bermuda beat Apollo by seven seconds in 1982.

Both yachts performed several late jibes as they attempted to secure the lead.

“I can’t believe that result. Honestly, it is a dream come true,” LawConnect’s skipper and owner Christian Beck said. “They took the lead pretty close to the line and we thought there was no way we could get it back.

“A wind gust came around. It was a complete surprise. There were guys who couldn’t watch. It was very nerve wracking.”

Comanche holds the race record of 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes, 24 seconds, set when it won the race in 2017.

“It is pretty painful, we’ve got an amazing boat that should have won,” Comanche skipper and owner John Winning Jr. said of Thursday’s result. “The other guys sailed their guts out and left nothing on the table. They beat us with an underdog boat, those guys deserve all the praise they get.”

“It was one of the most epic finishes in probably any sailing race I know. In the last three minutes I think the lead changed three times.”

Comanche and LawConnect were clear front-runners from just out of Sydney harbor. The pair began the trip down the New South Wales south coast at a fast clip but fell off the race record pace. The finish was at Constitution Dock in Hobart, the capital of the island state of Tasmania.

The highest-profile retirement of 11 race withdrawals was SHK Scallywag, one of four 100-foot super maxis which sustained a broken bow sprit and withdrew on the first evening of the race.

LawConnect was the first yacht out of the harbor.

AP sports: https://apnews.com/sports

law connect yacht history wikipedia

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

LawConnect

Last year, LawConnect finished second over the line to Black Jack . In 2019, when known as InfoTrack , she caused a sensation with her brilliant second over the line; 44 minutes 18 seconds astern of Comanche after a five-way 100-footer battle to Hobart. She finished fourth over the line in 2018 as InfoTrack , after a protracted battle with the rest in conditions not suited to her heavy weight. With a larger bowsprit to enhance performance, she took 2021 Cabbage Tree Island Race Line Honours. Beck bought the former Speedboat/Rambler/Perpetual Loyal from Anthony Bell in 2017, renamed her InfoTrack and finished fourth on line in the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart (but an infringement dropped her to 24 th ), inside the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart record set by this yacht.

Despite a few bumps along the way, this boat continues to defy her critics. When owned by Bell, it retired from the 2014 and 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobarts after finishing second on line in 2013. Beck continues the tradition of taking a few employees along for their first taste of the race, an unbelievable opportunity for these non-sailors. 

Competitor Details

Yacht Name LawConnect
Sail Number SYD1000
Owner Christian Beck
Skipper Christian Beck (4)
Sailing Master Tony Mutter (8)
Crew Rachel Beck (1), Curtis Blewett (2), Lucas Chapman (8), Dylan Clarke (2), James Connelly, Graeme Dunlop (6), Alexander Gough (4), Carlos Hernandez Robayna, Mustafa Ingham (3), Brad Jackson (11), Chris Lewis, Chris Nicholson (8), Ty Oxley (20), Payal Pattanaik, Matt Pearce (22), Ryan Phillips (2), Gavin Smith (1), Troy Tindill (12), Mitch White (19), Charlie Wyatt (2)
State NSW
Club CYCA
Type Juan-K 100
Designer Juan Kouyoumdjian (Arg)
Builder Boatspeed/Cookson
Construction Carbon
LOA 30.48
Beam 7.4
Draft 6.2

OFFICIAL ROLEX SYDNEY HOBART MERCHANDISE

Shop the official clothing range of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in person at the Club in New South Head Road, Darling Point or online below.  

From casual to technical clothing, there is something for all occasions. Be quick as stock is limited!

  • Australia News

LawConnect skipper Christian Beck reveals how Sydney to Hobart sailors celebrate at historic Customs House Hotel

LawConnect owner and skipper Christian Beck has lifted the lid on how sailors traditionally celebrate finishing the gruelling Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Jack Mahony

LawConnect owner and skipper Christian Beck has revealed how he plans to celebrate with his crew after winning the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race for the first time.

The supermaxi yacht finished 51 seconds ahead of reigning champion Andoo Comanche to clinch the second closest margin in the race’s history and break a streak of three consecutive second place finishes on Thursday morning.

Beck was slightly embarrassed by an ordinary attempt to spray the celebratory champagne and was later pushed into the water by his crew at Constitution Dock.

The LawConnect skipper insisted the party would not stop there as they let the victory sink in at a historic pub in Hobart.

“With the Sydney to Hobart every year everyone just goes to this one pub called the Customs House Hotel and that’s where I’ll be going and that’s where I think most the crews will go,” he told Sky News Australia.

“As the other boats come in they all tend to join us so it’s a very good fun time actually.”

LawConnect owner and skipper Christian Beck has revealed how the crew will celebrate their first victory in the Sydney to Hobart. Picture: Steve Bell/Getty Images

The Customs House Hotel is located in Hobart’s Salamanca and is across the road from the city’s bustling maritime precinct.

Shortly after LawConnect and Andoo Comanche crossed the line the hotel shared a post on its social media platforms inviting fans to come down and “say g’day to the sailors as they all start to arrive”.

Beck said he was in disbelief at the win after LawConnect entered the Derwent River - where the boats would slow down in the calmer waters - in second place.

“We could see them a long way in the distance and they were sort of (struggling with) not a lot of wind and we had a good wind and we got up really close to them,” he said.

“Then there was this duel where the lead changed hands a few times and it’s the closest race I’ve ever been involved in and it was just unbelievable.

The Customs House Hotel is right on the water in Hobart, it's the pale yellow building on the corner in the bottom left of the picture. Picture: Customs House Hotel

“I was very surprised at how much the lead changed, I was very surprised that we won in the end but it was just a feeling of complete ecstatic disbelief I think.”

LawConnect was two nautical miles behind Andoo Comanche as the two supermaxis turned into the calmer waters on the Derwent River.

Within 30 minutes LawConnect had closed the gap to 0.3 nautical miles and soon after was racing side-by-side with Andoo Comanche with less than a kilometre to race.

The pair exchanged the lead several times before LawConnect crossed the line just over a boat length ahead of Andoo Comanche.

Christian Beck was tossed into the water at Constitution Dock by the crew after taking out line honours the 2023 Sydney to Hobart. Picture: Steve Bell/Getty Images

LawConnect overcame trouble on the first night when it lost one of its most important sails in a wild storm but Beck revealed he could still sleep throughout the race because his sailing masters worked tirelessly throughout the voyage.

“We’ve got a couple of really key guys that run the boat, Tony Mutter and Chris Nicholson, and they I’m sure are very tired but me I don’t actually do very much on the boat,” he said.

“I was probably sleeping more on this boat than I do at home so I’m actually completely fine.

“(Mutter) was flat out he wasn’t sleeping all that much those guys did a lot of hard work I find if I leave them alone the boat goes better so that’s exactly what I did and it worked.”

Christian Beck struggled to spray his crew with champagne after taking out the line honours. Picture: Chris Kidd

LawConnect crossed the line 1:19:03:58 just after 8am on Thursday just ahead of the far superior Andoo Comanche which finished in 1:19:04:49.

Andoo Comanche is considered the fastest supermaxi in the world and set the current Sydney to Hobart record with its win in 2017. It has also taken out line honours in 2022, 2019, 2015.

The two supermaxis are hours ahead of the rest of the field with only a handful of boats expected to reach Hobart on Thursday.

Among those are handicap contenders URM and Alive battling it out for third while Moneypenny and Wild Thing 100 are also expected to dock on Thursday.

The majority will likely reach Hobart over the next two days.

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LawConnect hails 'dream' Sydney to Hobart underdog win

Super maxis Comanche, left, and LawConnect duel for the lead near the finish of the Sydney Hobart yacht race (AAP)

Super maxis Comanche, left, and LawConnect duel for the lead near the finish of the Sydney Hobart yacht race Source: AAP / Kurt Arrigo/AP

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Other ways to listen, lawconnect has clinched line honours in the sydney to hobart yacht race, running down fellow supermaxi andoo comanche in a thrilling river finish. the boat had been runner up in the last three races of the iconic bluewater classic, which is now in its 78th year., recommended for you.

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law connect yacht history wikipedia

SBS World News

law connect yacht history wikipedia

Published on December 27th, 2023 | by Editor

Victory to LawConnect in Sydney Hobart

Published on December 27th, 2023 by Editor -->

Christian Beck’s LawConnect shed its bridesmaid label in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race by claiming its first line honours victory in arguably the most exciting finish in years.

The Juan K 100-footer crossed the 2023 finish line in Hobart in first place on December 28 at 08:03:58am (Hobart time) in the time of 1 day 19 hours 03 minutes 58 seconds.

In second place was the defending champion Andoo Comanche, skippered by John Winning Jr for whom it was his last race in the boat after chartering the 100-footer for two years.

Andoo Comanche finished 51 seconds behind in 1 day 19 hours 04 minutes and 49 seconds. It was the second closest finish in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia race, with the closest being the seven second margin between top two, Condor and Apollo in 1982.

law connect yacht history wikipedia

LawConnect finished outside the race record of 1 day 9hrs 15min 24sec, set by the boat they beat, LDV Comanche, which won line honors in 2017 with her then owners, Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant. But that did not matter in light of the dramatic finish to the 628 nautical mile race in which LawConnect and Andoo Comanche fought from start to finish.

“I can’t believe that result,” shared Beck. “Honestly. It’s a dream come true. I never thought it was possible, actually. Because they took the lead pretty close to the finish line, we thought there’s no way we could get it back. But a wind gust came. It happened. So, it was a complete surprise, to be honest.”

Asked how the nerves of his crew were in the dying minutes of the race, Beck said: “There were guys who sort of couldn’t watch it and stuff like that. It was very nerve wracking.”

Beck said his joy of winning this year was heightened after falling short in previous years. The boat’s run of misfires dates back to before his second place in the last three races.

Beck first raced the boat, but as InfoTrack, in the 2017 Hobart, after buying it the from Anthony Bell, who had sailed it to line honors victory in a race record time as Perpetual Loyal in 2016.

It was the fourth of five boats to finish inside Bell’s record, but received a 20 percent penalty placing when a crew member failed to lodge a declaration at the finish, dropping the boat to 24th place. In 2018, Beck returned and placed fourth over the line.

“It does make you appreciate it more,” said Beck, adding that he would return next year. LawConnect’s win against the highly favored Andoo Comanche was against the odds. Equally as amazing though, was how their duel ended in such a close match-racing battle.

After stalking Andoo Comanche all night, it initially looked like LawConnect’s chances were slipping away, as the defending champions got a 2nm lead in the crossing of Storm Bay.

But LawConnect’s crew did not give up and edged closer to Andoo Comanche on the Derwent River. By Sandy Bay and with 1.5nm to go, LawConnect had all but caught the leader.

Then, in a brilliant slugfest of jibes between the two boats, the lead changed five times as they both tried to make best of the varying but light breezes. LawConnect only sealed the victory with its last jibe less than 50 metres before the finish.

Beck lauded his crew, especially Sailing Master, Tony Mutter and tactician, Chris Nicholson. “They have a lot to contend with. Firstly, the boat, I jokingly call a ‘s… box.’ But compared to Comanche, it honestly is a ‘s…box. I know it looks good on TV, but you get up close to that boat and it’s as rough as anything.

“Comanche is a beautiful boat. It’s better in every way. It’s four times lighter, etc. So, the fact that they can make that boat beat Comanche is amazing.

“Secondly, they had a pretty lean budget. And thirdly, they had the five corporates, including me, on the boat to deal with. None of us know all that much about sailing. So, to have all of that and still win the race, it’s an incredible feat.”

Details: https://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/

The 628 nm course for the 78th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has several key features following the exit from Sydney Harbor on December 26. Most notable is the crossing of the easternmost edge of the exposed Bass Strait, a notorious expanse of water that can serve up punishing and violent waves, and then periods when the sea is calm as the wind fades. The final stretch up the Derwent River into Hobart can be either kind or cruel when deciding the results of the race.

law connect yacht history wikipedia

Source: RSHYR

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law connect yacht history wikipedia

Sailing: Kiwi-skippered LawConnect wins Sydney to Hobart race in dramatic finish

The boats battle to the finish line. Credits: Image - Getty Images, video - Supplied

It was fourth time lucky for LawConnect's Kiwi skipper Christian Beck as his supermaxi reined in Andoo Comanche over the final approach to claim line honours in the 78th running of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race by 51 seconds on Thursday.

The two big yachts had run neck-and-neck at the front of the fleet of more 100 boats over 628 nautical miles (1163 km) from Sydney harbour to Tasmania's main southern port.

LawConnect, which last won the race under the name Perpetual Loyal in 2016, had finished runner-up in line honours for the last three runnings of the bluewater classic, last year behind Comanche.

Thousands of spectators gathered at Hobart's Constitution Dock to watch one of the closest finishes in the long history of Australia's most prestigious ocean race.

"I can't believe that result, I never thought it was possible," Beck told reporters at the quay.

"We thought we'd definitely lost it 15 minutes before because they were three miles ahead ... (but) wind gusts came in, it was a complete surprise."

Stormy weather had made conditions tough and the winning time was one day, 19 hours, 3 minutes and 58 seconds, well outside the record of one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds set by Comanche in 2017.

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Most of the rest of the fleet remains in the sometimes volatile Bass Strait, which separates the mainland from the island state of Tasmania, and the winner of the overall handicap title might not be known for several days.

Eleven boats have retired from the race but there have been no fatalities, a reflection of improved safety standards since six sailors were killed when a major storm hit the fleet during the 1998 running of the race.

law connect yacht history wikipedia

LawConnect wins Sydney to Hobart race in dramatic finish

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Lawconnect claims sydney to hobart line honours in nail-biting finish.

Yachts SHK Scallywag (C), Lawconnect (R), and Andoo Comanche compete during the start of the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day at Sydney Harbour on December 26, 2023.

Yachts SHK Scallywag (centre), Lawconnect (right), and Andoo Comanche compete during the start of the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day at Sydney Harbour on 26 December, 2023. Photo: AFP / David Gray

In a finish for the ages, LawConnect has sensationally overtaken Andoo Comanche in the final moments to snatch line honours in the 2023 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Andoo Comanche held the lead a lot more comfortably when rounding the Tasman Peninsula and entering the River Derwent for the final sprint, but LawConnect started to rapidly gain on them.

The speedier LawConnect closed several nautical miles between them along the river until they were neck and neck to a nail-biting finish.

LawConnect's finish time in the end was 1 day, 19 hours, 3 minutes and 58 seconds. Andoo Comanche's was just 51 seconds behind.

LawConnect owner Christian Beck described their dramatic win as a dream come true.

"I can't believe that result. Honestly, it's a dream come true," he said.

"I never thought it was possible, actually."

Despite trailing by a significant margin as they passed the Iron Pot on the final approach, LawConnect had the advantage of being able to watch Andoo Comanche to see where the slow spots were.

LawConnect entered with a protest flag flying, after being on standby for about 30 minutes during the race due to concerns Andoo Comanche was in distress at one stage.

There was also some interference from a spectator boat in the final moments, with a catamaran passing close to Andoo Comanche and the crew being seen yelling and gesturing.

Sailing master Tony Mutter said spectator boats were something the competitors had to deal with.

"It's pretty fair that everyone had troubles with the spectator boats. That's part of it when it's so busy," he said.

Yacht Andoo Comanche (R) competes during the start of the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day at Sydney Harbour on December 26, 2023.

Yacht Andoo Comanche (right) competes during the start of the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day at Sydney Harbour on 26 December, 2023. Photo: AFP / David Gray

Andoo Comanche skipper John Winning Jr said they only had themselves to blame for the last-minute loss.

"We should have been miles ahead of them with our boat," he said.

"The conditions suited us, I think they just outsailed us."

Thousands of spectators watched the dramatic finish at Constitution Dock from 7am (local time) as the two super maxis jostled for the top position.

It was the perfect finish to one of the most memorable editions of the blue water classic, held amidst intense storms over south-east Australia.

The remainder of the fleet is crossing the Bass Strait, where conditions are easier than the previous night.

It has been a testing 78th edition of the Sydney to Hobart, with a man overboard, stormy seas , damaged yachts and rapid wind changes.

Eleven boats have retired, including race favourite SHK Scallywag, which broke its bow sprit on the first day.

The skipper of two-handed Rum Rebellion, Shane Connelly, was sent overboard at 6pm on Boxing Day after encountering rapid wind changes off the coast between Cronulla and Wollongong.

Two-handed Currawong also retired, after facing various issues in rough conditions off New South Wales.

Owner Kathy Veel said they were disappointed but believed they made the right decision.

"Last night was quite difficult and there was a lot more of that ahead of us in a long race," she said.

They were the last boat to cross the finishing line at last year's event, making a well-received arrival in Hobart at midnight on New Year's Eve.

-This story was first published by the ABC

Copyright © 2023 , Radio New Zealand

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Stormy weather ahead as sydney to hobart race gets underway.

Andoo Comanche prepares for the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race seen from North Head in Sydney.

Favourites Andoo Comanche and LawConnect both had issues in the harbour at the start of the 78th running of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Cat makes history in Sydney to Hobart yacht race

Skipper Robert Williams watches his cat Oli as he stands aboard his yacht ‘Sylph VI’ during the media launch of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in Sydney on November 22, 2023. The 78th running of the 628 nautical mile race has more than 110 yachts entered for the start on Boxing Day on Sydney Harbour. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)

Oli is believed to be the first feline seafarer in the famous race's 78-year history.

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Sydney to Hobart yacht race led by Black Jack from LawConnect after taking advantage of rival's sail problems

Sport Sydney to Hobart yacht race led by Black Jack from LawConnect after taking advantage of rival's sail problems

A black sailed yacht cuts through rough water with crew members moving onboard

Queensland boat Black Jack has a handy lead over early favourite LawConnect in the race for line honours on day one of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, with tough conditions forcing more than a dozen starters to retire. 

Racing under the flag of the Yacht Club de Monaco, Black Jack had an advantage of 13.6 nautical miles over LawConnect as of 1:00am AEDT.

LawConnect, a supermaxi, was one of the pre-race favourites and held the lead earlier on the opening day.

It won line honours in the 2016 edition, racing as Perpetual Loyal.

The 80-footer Stefan Racing was a further 1.3 nautical miles behind, and SHK Scallywagg was another 4.3 nautical miles back in fourth.   

The forecast was for strong southerly or southeasterly winds for the first 24 hours or so of the race, with the possibility of much lighter winds later on, slowing the fleet down crossing Bass Strait.

Fifteen starters were forced to retire on day one, including NSW boats Blink, Mako and Mille Sabords, White Noise from Victoria and Tasmania's Oskana.

The line honours race record, set by Comanche in 2017, of one day, 9 hours, 15 minutes, 24 seconds, is not under threat.

Early predictions were that the leaders would not reach the finish line in Hobart in under two days.

The start was fiercely contested, with the three supermaxis — LawConnect, Black Jack and SHK Scallywag — all in the mix.

The Hong Kong-based Scallywag, skippered by David Witt, made the best start, and took the lead on the run to the opening mark.

Sail issues spoil good start for Scallywag

One boat turns right around a yellow mark in Sydney Harbour while another boat sails past the mark before making a turn.

The supermaxi made it to the heads in a little over 5 minutes and navigated the opening mark well with Black Jack right behind.

However, the problems started soon afterwards, as Scallywag developed a problem with its foresail.

As its rivals took advantage, the crew of Scallywag were forced to take the boat away from the racing line and go the wrong way for several minutes to give themselves room to bring down the sail and work on it.

"Shortly after the heads the yacht had an issue with the J2 foresail tack fitting. The team got the sail down safely & storm jib up while they work to repair it," Scallywag's social media account tweeted.

The storm jib, designed to be used in much higher winds, is a lot smaller than the normal foresail - as a result, Scallywag's speed slowed down and it lost ground on its rivals.

LawConnect took over to establish a lead it would not relinquish for the rest of the afternoon.

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Streaming to Hobart with LawConnect

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LtoR - Payal Pattanaik, James Connelly, Gavin Smith, Graeme Dunlop the 2022 winners of the LawConnect incentive programme - photo © Andrea Francolini

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