Scallywag grabs third place in Sydney-Hobart yacht race to make Hong Kong proud

Supermaxi owned by Hong Kong businessman Lee Seng Huang easily beats old record as Perpetual Loyal takes line honours

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 11:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 10:19am

Hong Kong businessman Lee Seng Huang’s supermaxi Scallywag claimed third place in the Sydney to Hobart yachting ocean classic, easily beating the old race record.

Supermaxi Perpetual Loyal claimed line honours and a race record time late on Tuesday night (Hong Kong time) after earlier inheriting the lead when race favourite Wild Oats XI withdrew because of a ­hydraulic failure.

For the second year in a row, Wild Oats had to quit the race ­early, this time with a technical glitch that affected its moveable keel.

Perpetual Loyal, skippered by Anthony Bell, easily smashed Wild Oats’ 2012 race record of one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds – setting a new mark of one day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds.

New Zealand’s Volvo 70 Giacomo, which hopes to be crowned overall winner in the handicap honours for the vessel that performs best according to size, came in second with a time of one day, 15 hours, 27 minutes and five seconds.

Scallywag crossed the finish line about two minutes later, also easily beating the old record.

Scallywag was bought this year by Lee, the 42-year-old group executive chairman of Sun Hung Kai & Co, one of Hong Kong’s leading finanical companies.

The boat is yachting legend Syd Fischer’s ex Ragamuffin 100. It contested its first Sydney to ­Hobart race in 2014, finishing third on the line, then second on the line in 2015.

It took line honours in the Hong Kong to Vietnam Race, breaking the record Fischer set with Ragamuffin 90 in 2013.

New Zealander Jim Delegat’s Giacomo was the boat to beat for overall honours.

But Delegat and his crew will have to endure a long wait at the dock, as the mid-size and smaller boats continue to race in Bass Strait and off Tasmania, before they will know if their triumph is more than fleeting.

Leader Wild Oats XI drops out of Sydney-Hobart race due to hydraulic failure

Just four yachts had withdrawn from the 88-boat fleet in this year’s Sydney to Hobart battle by yesterday afternoon, with ideal conditions in contrast to previous stormy years.

The key to any race record is the wind conditions in the Derwent River, which yachts must ­negotiate in the final stretch to the finish at Hobart. The wind is typically light in the Tasmanian river and many record attempts have faltered in sight of the finish of the 628 nautical mile race. But last night, the boats had a helping hand as the wind stayed in the river.

Earlier, Wild Oats was more than four hours inside its race record when forced to withdraw. The 100-foot yacht had an eventful race, ­botching the start and trailing ­Perpetual Loyal out of Sydney Harbour ­before seizing the lead as the fleet headed south.

Wild Oats was around five nautical miles ahead of Perpetual Loyal when the decision was made to withdraw.

A spokesman for Wild Oats said her crew had been able to ­stabilise the keel and the yacht was making around nine knots ­towards the Australian coast.

“Approaching the northeast coast of Flinders Island in eastern Bass Strait she suffered damage to the hydraulic ram that adjusts the angle of the canting or swinging keel beneath the hull,” the spokesman said.

“The keel counteracts the weight of the wind on the sails, ­enabling the boat to remain more upright.”