The banter between two of the leading supermaxis for the Sydney Hobart has begun, after SHK Scallywag 100 came from behind to beat LawConnect in Tuesday's Big Boat Challenge.
The Hong Kong boat trailed LawConnect by almost a minute and a half over the 14 nautical-mile course on Sydney harbour, but made up ground downwind before powering ahead on the second upwind leg.
The Challenge was the fourth and final race of the inaugural Australian maxi championship, which commenced last week.
Tuesday's result meant the two supermaxis shared line honours across the championship.
With both boats also recording two seconds, the overseas campaigner took out the championship's line honours title by virtue of a higher placed finish in Tuesday's final race, while Australia's LawConnect claimed overall honours.
The TAB has SHK Scallywag 100 as line honours favourite for the Hobart race just ahead of LawConnect, but their iaconic skipper David Witt was quick to claim underdog status.
"We're 200 to one but we like a punt," Witt said.
"I think they've got you as favourite at the moment," replied LawConnect boat captain Ty Oxley.
In light to moderate breezes, SHK Scallywag completed Tuesday's course in one hour 18 minutes 32 seconds, three minutes 29 secs ahead of LawConnect.
"We had the wrong sail on at the start and we tried not to put it on and got forced to put it on and the breeze strength went up 30 seconds after the gun, so we were behind these guys (LawConnect) and struggling," Witt said.
"Once we got the right sails on .... We're not super fast or anything like that, but our crew is very, very good. Our crew work probably won us the race."
Oxley said a number of factors contributed to his boat finishing second.
"Unfortunately out of a tack there was a ferry there and David (Witt) was able to get over to the western shore where we wanted to be and that's where the breeze was and they got away," Oxley said.
"There's never one thing that loses you the race but obviously the ferry didn't help us and we couldn't get back to the same shoreline David was on.
The third supermaxi entered for this month's Sydney to Hobart, Black Jack, didn't contest the Challenge and Australian maxi championship after a crew member tested positive for COVID over a week ago.
The 66-foot Wild Oats X, finished third across the line in the Challenge, completing a clean sweep of four line honours wins in the mini maxi division of the championship.
The 62-foot Whisper took overall honours in both the Challenge and the mini maxi division of the Australian maxi championship and at one stage early in the race was ahead of several bigger boats including SHK Scallywag 100.
"We felt a little bit like the rabbit being chased by the foxes out there today because being in front of the big boats was a wonderful experience," Whisper's skipper David Griffith said.
Australian Associated Press