Giant killers

For the second time in three years Shane Kearns' Komatsu Azzurro has powered to overall victory in the Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race.

Written by Scott Alle

02 August 2017


The immaculate navy hulled S&S 34 representing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia posted a corrected time of 3 days 1 hour 40 mins 25 seconds, 2 hours 36 mins and 23 seconds ahead of Ian Creak’s Beneteau 47.7 Ausreo in second.

Komatsu Azzurro were big beneficiaries of Monday night’s wind shift from northerly to southerly which almost all of the faster boats finished ahead of. It meant the six-strong crew were able to set themselves for race against time, a race they knew they were comfortably leading.

“It was a great race. The hard thing was knowing that we had a chance once Black Jack finished but we were still 150 miles from the finish. So it was a long drawn out run to the line.”

“During that time, as more boats finished we knew we were in with a really good chance and then the southerly did come in and that was great. Really good to get the win.”


Tactical options were fairly limited in the smaller 34 footer in the offshore race but Kearns knew he still had to play his hand right.

“From the beginning we knew we had to keep in contact with the bulk of the fleet and to their dismay, and our delight, we did that. With the wind shift they couldn’t shake us and that’s how we got the result.

“With an average boat speed of 6 knots, the biggest killer for us would be 2 knots of current, that a 33 percent hit for us so staying in close to the shore was key.”

The result is the second win for Kearns and Azzurro in the past three years and he believes it will shake any accusations of good fortune being at the heart of their victories.

“We were lucky enough to win it two years ago so we had big celebrations, people said it was a fluke but don’t know what they’re going to say for a double fluke! We’ve worked hard for this, lot of training so we’re delighted it has paid off.”

“This is the first race of the Blue Water and we’ll be doing all the races on the way to the Rolex Sydney Hobart, that’s the one we want to win next. People laughed years ago when I said that but they don’t laugh so much anymore!”

Wild Oats XI was the first to cross the finish line in the Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race 2017 posting a time of 1 day 18 hours 37 mins and 6 seconds to take line honours ahead of Black Jack by the smallest of margins.

After over 40 hours of racing and 384 nautical miles, just 3 minutes and 31 seconds separated the top two boats, the two Reichel/Pugh hundred footers.

The result is the race’s closest finish in 15 years and sets the tone for the next few months of competition between Wild Oats XI and Black Jack as they trade blows all the way to Hobart in December.

Across more than 40 hours, Black Jack and 2017 Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race line honours winner Wild Oats XI were locked in a neck and neck battle up the coast with many surprised with just how fast Peter Harburg’s boat is.



In the end the two hundred footers were separated by just 3 mins and 31 seconds with the Black Jack crew sure to take confidence given their tight preparation times.

“Just to put it in perspective, the rig was in the boat for the first time in 2 years and the mainsail was in the lock for the first time, 2 hours before the start. That’s how close it was,” said Mark Bradford, Black Jack’s skipper.

“We’re happy. For us there was a lot of stuff to check and we got through that and had a yacht race as a by-product of that and it was pretty good fun. We have been sailing around over the last 3 years in a Volvo 70 by ourselves, convincing ourselves we were racing and when you go racing again for a couple of days it was pretty nice.”

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