“It’s pretty emotional. These are the types of things that you look back on and say you’re glad you got those opportunities,” Winning Jr said.
“He’s a big golfer and I hate golf, so it’s the only sport we can do together.”
Winning Jr dedicated the victory to “dear friend” Matt Munting, who helped him set up his extreme sports venture Andoo X.
Andoo Comanche set the pace down Australia’s east coast despite a poor start on Boxing Day.
Winning Jr said his crew had to navigate some “hairy” moments in the early stages, made more difficult by spectator zones that narrowed the course.
The super maxi also hit a 10-foot log early in the race, suffering a chip to her rudder.
Winning Jr said he was worried about the winds dying in the notoriously fickle River Derwent.
“[Winning] didn’t feel real until the last minute. It means a hell of a lot,” he said.
Northerly winds that helped the fleet across Bass Strait picked up on Tuesday evening as the leading four super maxis sailed off Tasmania’s east coast.
Andoo Comanche navigator, Justin Shaffer, had earlier said they were pleased with their progress.
“We had a great night. A dream run. [The] crew is holding up well and so is the boat,” he said.
In the build-up to the race, Winning jnr had described the boat as “unstoppable” if sailed correctly in the right conditions.
Wild Oats made up ground during the day after being hamstrung by a split sail overnight.
Speaking on Tuesday morning, LawConnect sailing master Tony Mutter said it had been a “pretty decent” run across Bass Strait.
Just three yachts have so far retired from the starting fleet of 109, a far cry from the 2021 event in which 36 boats pulled the pin across the first two days in rough weather.
The Sydney to Hobart was not held in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sydney yacht Koa became the third to retire after losing her rudder in Bass Strait. All the crew were OK, according to race officials and police.
Water police sent a vessel to assist, with the stricken boat being towed to Eden in NSW.
Earlier, Avalanche (broken bowsprit) and Yeah Baby (rudder damage) pulled the pin.
Avalanche launched a protest against Llama II, which will be heard on Friday.
Overall honours remains anyone’s game, with Australian boats Chutzpah, Mistral, Midnight Rambler and Quest in the running.
It was an eventful start to the 77th edition of the race on Boxing Day, with both Andoo Comanche and Wild Oats doing penalty turns within the opening 20 minutes.
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