Its Official! Stars Aligned As Celestial Is Declared Overall Winner of Sydney-Hobart Race

It must have been an agonizing 24 hours for the captain and crew of the Transpac 52 (TP52) as they waited for word to come down as to whether they would be crowned the overall winners of the 77th Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
Celestial Yacht 8 photos
Photo: Carlo Borlenghi
Skippered by owner and Vice Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), Sam Haynes, Celestial would finish second to Caro in the TP52 class yesterday but would finish atop the overall standings on corrected time. However, any celebration other than arriving safely in Hobart after 628 nautical miles of intense offshore yacht racing would have to wait.

Boats were still arriving as Haynes and his crew waited with other fellow sailors at the Customs House Hotel but as they crossed the line, Celestial's corrected time to earn the Tattersall Cup as the overall winner of the race held.

One last hurdle to get over was a decision by officials whether a pending redress regarding the retirement of KOA earlier in the race would impact the standings.

The nightmare of last year must have been at the forefront of their minds. They finished first overall in last year's race only to have been relegated to second place after being found guilty of a rules infraction.

Ten of the fifteen crew members who sailed in last year's edition were aboard Celestial this year to prove last year's boat speed and seamanship could be replicated. And surely it was, as Celestial battled what is described as one of the toughest TP52 fleets.

Celestial was at the top of the standings as the 109-boat racing fleet left Sydney on Monday and was able to perform at a level to hold that position at the finish. Whether they responded to the competition from the likes of U.S. entrant Warrior Won, Caro, and Gweilo or they were racing to avenge last year's misfortune is anybody's guess.

Haynes said, "I knew they (Warrior Won, Caro and Gweilo) were all over us at the top of the division. It was 'their turn our turn' in areas of the current," he said. "Warrior Won and us were close together for so long - 4 nautical miles separated us at some points - we could see each other. We were match racing the whole way before we got to Tasman Island."

For skipper Haynes, winning one of the most prestigious offshore yacht races in the world is certainly a career highlight for the veteran yachtie.

For the race itself, it unfolded with a nominal degree of drama at the start with the supermaxis and along the final 11-mile stretch to the finish line. However, it was largely a clean race with only three boats retiring at various stages with mechanical issues. The weather, which usually plays a significant role in the race was rather tame except for some strong winds Wednesday evening along the Tasmanian coast. In fact, the race was all downwind sailing after the boats left Sydney Harbor until the final stage on the River Derwent. That final leg was the drag race portion of The Great Race that saw tremendous match-like racing in the supermaxi and TP52 classes.

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