The crew of Sydney to Hobart favourites InfoTrack are confident they can not only defend the title but break the race record this year.
Tech entrepeneur Christian Beck bought 2016 line honours winner Perpetual Loyal this year and rebranded it after his software company.
Perpetual Loyal, skippered by celebrity accountant Anthony Bell, set a new race record of one day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds last year.
“We’d like to try to keep the record,” said Beck, the new owner and skipper of InfoTrack.
“If the conditions are right we’d like to try and hold on to that record. I think if it’s windy we have a chance of winning,” he said.
Beck is estimated to be worth more than $600 million and was named Ernst and Young entrepeneur of 2017 last month.
He hasn’t done offshore ocean racing before and admits it’s a “whole new world”.
“It’s all about the crew because I don’t know what I’m doing, so I really need a good crew,” Beck joked.
InfoTrack has assembled a star-studded crew with decades of Sydney to Hobart experience and Olympic medals.
Some of the crew were meeting Beck for the first time at Tuesday’s InfoTrack launch.
Crew member Iain Jensen won the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics and silver at the Rio Olympics in the 49er sailing event.
“I’ve always wanted to do the Hobart, it’s an iconic race in Australia,” Jensen said. “To come home with a Hobart win would be up there for sure.”
Jensen received a call from InfoTrack helmsman Ben Lamb asking him to join the crew.
“He sort of asked if I was interested in doing it. He told me who else was on board and which boat it was and it seemed like a really good opportunity,” Jensen said.
InfoTrack boat captain Ty Oxley will compete in his 15th Sydney to Hobart this year and is confident the 100-foot supermaxi can break the race record if the weather conditions suit.
“It took four hours 50 minutes off the record last year so anything’s possible.”
“It’s definitely capable of winning again and it’s definitely proved itself to be capable in those strong conditions,” Oxley said.
Beck isn’t concerned about being the new owner and skipper of last year’s winner.
“That doesn’t worry me because I don’t have a reputation in sailing. So I don’t really see that as a lot of pressure,” he said.
Beck is also keen to organise a weekly race between supermaxis in the style of the start of the Sydney to Hobart, where the yachts race to be first out of the Sydney heads.
InfoTrack, Comanche, Wild Oats XI and Black Jack are the four supermaxis in the 107-strong fleet.
“It’s going to be quite a competitive year this year. Comanche will be a hard boat to beat,” Jensen said.
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