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Andoo Comanche takes Line Honours in 2022 Cabbage Tree Island Race

Andoo Comanche takes Line Honours in 2022 Cabbage Tree Island Race
Cabbage Tree Island Race 2022 - ANDOO COMANCHE ©Andrea Francolini

Andoo Comanche takes Line Honours in 2022 Cabbage Tree Island Race

Andoo Comanche set a new record time to take Line Honours in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's 2022 Cabbage Tree Island Race.

The 100-foot maxi, skippered by John Winning Jr, finished the 172 nautical mile race in 12 hours, 19 minutes and 8 seconds.

That was more than three hours quicker than the previous record set by LawConnect in the 2021 race, and just four minutes shy of the old record, set by Wild Oats XI in 2012 before the finish line was moved to Watsons Bay.

Andoo Comanche now has three Line Honours wins from the five races in the 2022/23 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore so far, having also won the Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race and Tollgate Islands Race.

After chasing Black Jack to Sydney Heads in a moderate sou'easter at the start of the race on Friday night, Andoo Comanche pulled away and consistently reached speeds above 20 knots as the maxis rounded Cabbage Tree Island (north of Port Stephens) in the early hours of Saturday. 

Returning to Sydney in a light westerly as the sun rose over the city, she set a new benchmark for the race, 50 minutes ahead of Christian Beck's Juan-K 100 LawConnect, which impressed in her first outing of the 2022/23 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore. 

Peter Harburg's Reichel/Pugh 100 Black Jack (skippered by Mark Bradford) and the Oatley family's Reichel/Pugh 100 Hamilton Island Wild Oats (skippered by Mark Richards)enjoyed a fascinating duel down Sydney Harbour.

They battled all the way to the line, with Black Jack getting the edge by just 59 seconds. 

Having taken victory in the first race between all four maxis this year, Andoo Comanche skipper Winning Jr had plenty to be pleased about. 

"The race went well," he said. "We think conditions were in our favour, so it was a bit unfortunate for the skinnier boats that they didn't get their conditions, but we think they've had a few races that were more favourable for them. 

"We had a tussle with Black Jack getting out of the Heads which was a bit of fun; they were holding us out. But once we turned the corner and got our nice angle, we were away. 

"The big wide ship got triple-headed with a pole out and it doesn't get much better than that, other than having more wind."

With a series of major wins in varied conditions, Andoo Comanche is widely tipped to be the frontrunner for Line Honours in the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Winning Jr is coming to terms with the favourites tag, but isn't burdened by any sense of expectation.

"We'd rather be underdogs, but I guess we are the favourites!" he said. "We'll take what we get. Hopefully we deserve to be the favourites.

"We're super pumped to be in the position we're in and have the awesome bunch of experienced and diverse sailors we've got."

Winning Jr appears to have the perfect blend of a high performing and cohesive crew.

"The one thing I think has really improved is the camaraderie on board," he added. "Everyone has realised how important it is to be connected as a team.

"We know when to take things seriously - we take things seriously a lot - but when you have periods of down time, we've realised how important it is to have those moments of laughter and get everyone's spirits back up. 

"Watching the serious people crack a bit and become more light-hearted, then watching the light-hearted people learn to pull it into line and be serious, and finding that middle ground as a team, has been our biggest improvement."

Andoo Comanche takes the lead in the Maxi Division of the 2022 Australian Maxi Championship, which is supported by Major Partner Sydney Brewery.

In addition to the Line Honours win, she was also the first of the maxis on handicap, from LawConnect, Black Jack and Hamilton Island Wild Oats.

Racing continues in the Championship on Monday, with up to two passage races, followed by the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on Tuesday. 

Follow the remainder of the fleet in the Cabbage Tree Island Race via the live tracker and live standings