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From Fashion to Foulies, Kristy Hinze-Clark Takes ...

From Fashion to Foulies, Kristy Hinze-Clark Takes Sydney Hobart by Storm

History was made when Kristy Hinze-Clark, the beautiful Australian model who co-owns the 100-foot supermaxi Comanche with husband Jim Clark steered the yacht across the Rolex Sydney Hobart finish line on December 28.

It was a double first: The first female owner to take line honors in the history of the Rolex Sydney Hobart, and also the first American yacht to take line honors in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s renowned race since Larry Ellison’s Sayonara in 1998.

kristy hinze-clark, co-owner of comanche. 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com photo: greg nagel

Kristy Hinze-Clark, co-owner of Comanche. Photo: Greg Nagel

comanche in the rolex sydney hobart yacht race, 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com. photo: greg nagel

Sipper Ken Read talking with Kristy Hinze-Clark. Photo: Greg Nagel

comanche, rolex sydney hobart. 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com. photo: greg nagel

Comanche! Photo: Greg Nagel

The win was that much sweeter given the dramatic come-from-behind victory.

After leading the “big five” yachts out of Sydney Harbor (Robert Oatley’s Wild Oats XI, Andrew Bell’s Perpetual Loyal, Sid Fisher’s Ragamuffin 100 and Geroge David’s Rambler 88, Comanche suffered sudden and severe damage to her daggerboard and rudder.

Initially, it was reported that the race was over for Comanche after her steering system was shattered. Indeed, the supermaxi was drifting downwind back to Sydney in a 40-knot southerly. Hinze-Clark asked if the yacht could still win and then the tools came out, the after-guard came up with a solution.

comanche skipper ken read. 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com. photo: greg nagel

Comanche Skipper Ken Read. Photo: Greg Nagel

In what has become a now famous quote, renowned skipper Ken Read quipped, “We came here to finish. One way or another we’re going to finish this damn race. We’ll limp across the finish line even if we’re paddling we’ll be there!”

The boat’s steering system was held together by just three stainless steel threads upon their victorious arrival.

ken read and kristy hinze-clark, rolex sydney hobart. 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com. photo: greg nagel

Ken Read and Kristy Hinze-Clark at the start. Photo: Greg Nagel

Read had high praise for Hinze-Clark’s abilities as a sailor, “Kristy has the best attitude on a sailboat, she jumped right into it, grinding, hiking, driving, she was a star,” he said.

team comanche, rolex sydney hobart, 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com. photo: greg nagel

Team Comanche. Photo: Greg Nagel

jimmy spithill and ken read on comanche, rolex sydney hobart

Sailing star power aboard Comanche… Jimmy Spithill and Ken Read. Photo: Greg Nagel

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, so I went out and trained with the guys and now here we are,” said Hinze-Clark after the win in Hobart. The guys being some of the greatest sailors in the world, including eight current and former America’s Cup sailors, the likes of Read and Oracle Team USA’s Jimmy Spithill.

kristy hinze-clark aboard super yacht athena. 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com. photo: vogue australia/moda familia

Kristy-Hinze-Clark in a photo shoot aboard her super yacht Athena. Photo: Vogue Australia/Moda Familia

kristy hinze-clark photoshoot, athena super yacht. 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com. photo: vogue australia/moda familia

Kristy-Hinze-Clark’s nautical chic aboard Athena. Photo: Vogue Australia/Moda Familia

Hinze-Clark is best known for her modeling career, during which she strutted her stuff on the high fashion catwalk, made appearances in Sports Illustrated and worked with Victoria’s Secret. But she is equally comfortable pulling on her foulies to embark on the adventure that is the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

team comanche debuts mustang survival's new ocean racing series

Team Comanche debuted Mustang Survival’s new Ocean Racing Series. Photo: Andrea Francolini

Team Comanche debuted Mustang Survival’s new Fall 2016 Ocean Raceing Series, which will be available to the public in June 2016. As a leading supplier to the military, coast guard, and water rescue professionals for decades, Mustang was a good match for the race.

This year’s RSHYR was particularly grueling, the teams faced the most challenging conditions in a decade. Twenty-four hours after the start a quarter of the fleet had been forced to retired due to damage – broken rudders, one dismasting and numerous shredded sails inflicted by gale force winds and heavy seas during the night.

“There was a bunch of emotions that went on: pure terror at one stage, excitement and now just total joy and fulfillment,” Hinze-Clark said. “It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

comanche, rolex sydney hobart. 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com. photo: kurt arrigo

Challenging conditions in the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

Ken Read compared the experience to the Volvo Ocean Race. “The Rolex Sydney Hobart is a two day VOR race, everything we experience in an eight month race condensed to two days… The good, the bad, the ugly, breaking, great rides – it had it all.”

Although it’s a much shorter race, life aboard the yachts during the RSHYR is a lot like the VOR. Creature comfort is given up in the name of speed, from the spartan accommodations to the freeze-dried food. Everything on board is planned for speed.

comanche, rolex sydney hobart. 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com. photo: andrea francolini

Comanche was made for one thing, to go fast. Photo: Andrea Francolini

“Comanche is a carbon fiber shell, made to do one thing, go and go fast.” Read said. The thoroughbred VPLP Design supermaxi claimed line honors with a race time of 2 days, 8 hours, 58 minutes and 30 seconds.

“The boat took off just how we expected it to…When she takes off it’s a rush – it’s a great feeling,” Hinze-Clark added.

comanche dolphin escort, rolex sydney hobart 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com.

Comanche’s dolphin escort. Photo: Rolex

Even the sea life knew Comanche’s win was something special; she was escorted to Hobart by a pod of dolphins.

comanche, rolex sydney hobart yacht race. 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com. photo: rolex

Nearing the finish. Photo: Rolex

comanche surfing in the rolex sydney hobart. 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com. photo: greg nagel

Comanche still uses her first North Sails 3Di sails, now with 22,000 miles on them, impressive! Photo: Greg Nagel

In talking with Read, who is also President of North Sails, I took the the opportunity to ask about something I’d always wondered about, the longevity grand prix racing sails. I really learned something.

Comanche’s sails are North’s standard 3Di Raw sails, which were originally developed for inshore racers. Read said they are the lightest, fastest sails ever made for sailing and are made with a patented process that North Sails owns.

The first yacht to sail offshore with 3Di Raw sails was Comanche, a year ago. The technology has worked so well that 90 percent of offshore racers use it now. 3Di Raw quickly become the standard in being not only lightest, fasted and strongest-ever sail, but also the most durable.

Read says Comanche still uses its first raw sails and with 22,000 miles on them now, they’re still perfect. Wow.

comanche rolex sydney hobart approach line honors. 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com.

Comanche being welcomed by the spectator fleet. Photo: Rolex

comanche, rolex sydney hobart

Comanche approaching victory. Photo: Rolex

kristy hinze-clark celebrating comanche's line honors win, rolex sydney hobart. 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com. photo: greg nagel

Celebration time. Photo: Greg Nagel

comanche line honors ceremony, rolex sydney hobart. 'from fashion to foulies, kristy hinze-clark takes sydney hobart by storm' on sailcouture.com. photo: greg nagel

Victory! Photo: Greg Nagel

Comache is currently in Melbourne for repairs and from there she will go to Charleston, SC, where she’ll get an ultra sound. The next stop on her tight schedule is Antigua for the Caribbean 600 in February.

Good news for Australia: Comanche will be back. “It’s not going to be the last time she’s here… not if I’ve got anything to do with it,” says Hinze-Clark.

Kara Hugglestone is a San Francisco-based branding professional, accessory designer, sailor and traveler. When time permits, she also indulges in her passion for things classic: cars, movies, wine and fashion. You can follow her on Twitter at @gallerykara. 


Kara Hugglestone is Founder and Editor of Sail Couture. She is also a San Francisco-based branding professional, sailor and traveler. When time permits, she indulges in her passion for things classic: cars, movies, wine and fashion. You can follow her on Instagram at @gallerykara.

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