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A Day Aboard the Elegant J Class Hanuman

A Day Aboard the Elegant J Class Hanuman

Checking a box off the bucket list sailing aboard Jim & Kristy Clark’s 138-foot Hanuman in the America’s Cup J Class Regatta.

Majestic, elegant, timeless, classic… The adjectives to describe the stunning J Class could go on and on. When seven of these gorgeous yachts met recently at the America’s Cup J Class Regatta it was a historic moment. Never before in the 80-year history of the class had so many of these beauties gathered together. One of these yachts had another distinction, an owner just as stunning.

Kristy Hinze-Clark is an Australian supermodel who grew up sailing Hobies in Australia, and then inspired by her husband, tech entrepreneur and passionate sailor Jim Clark, took her sailing to another level. Together they campaign two of the world’s most exciting racing yachts: their 138-foot J Class Hanuman and their 100-foot super maxi Comanche.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

Kristy Hinze-Clark owns Hanuman with her husband tech titan Jim Clark. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

 

“I love them both for different reasons. Comanche is pure speed and adrenaline, Hanuman is pure beauty and elegance—and more comfortable,” said Kristy.

Indeed, whereas Comanche is a stripped-down carbon fiber racing machine, Hanuman is modeled after the classic Endeavour II, which has been called the most beautiful yacht ever built. The J Class yachts hail from the period when America’s Cup yachts mixed in equal measure speed and luxury; their interiors rivaling those of the world’s finest cruising yachts.

Kristy is a true competitor. Growing up in Australia, her goal had always been to sail the legendary Rolex Sydney Hobart. When she finally did, it was with the distinction of being the first female owner to take line honors. It was a particularly grueling RSHYR too, the most challenging in 20 years.

Comanche

Kristy was the first female owner to take line honors in the history of the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Photo: Greg Nagel.

“There were a bunch of emotions that went with it: pure terror at one stage, excitement, and now total joy and fulfillment. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done,” she said of the experience.

The yacht

While Comanche is a modern marvel in every way, Hanuman recalls the gilded age of the 1930s America’s Cup when Harold Vanderbilt, Sir Thomas Lipton, and Sir Thomas Sopwith were among the successful owners and defenders of the Cup.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

Hanuman in the lead. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

The stunning Hanuman! Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

J Class Regatta Hanuma

The J Class Regatta recalled the gilded age of the 1930s America’s Cup. Photo: ACEA/Ricardo Pinto.

By the 1980s, only three of the original 10 J Class yachts were still in existence but today the class is undergoing a resurgence with a mixture of refitted originals and new yachts built to original hull lines. Hanuman was designed by Dykstra Naval Architects in Amsterdam and built by Royal Huisman. This modern recreation, a new super J Class yacht, was launched in 2009.

The design adhered to J Class Association rules but optimized with more sail area, ballast ratio, righting moment, and building materials. Hanuman’s hull is built from Alustar, and its spars and rig are carbon composite. Below deck, interior designer Pieter Beeldsnijder has created a luxurious, classic interpretation of the period in French walnut.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

The graceful line of Hanuman’s bow… Photo: ACEA/Ricardo Pinto.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

The Hindu god of strength is emblazoned on team gear. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

Hanuman is named after the Hindu god of strength, heroic initiative, and assertive excellence. Kristy told me that in Asia he is the deity of choice for the hip kids. “He has the cool factor,” she said. Hanuman’s name has served her well; she’s the winningest yacht in the J Class fleet.

On the water

The AC35 J Class Regatta started off with little to no wind; racing had to be canceled the first day when the breeze refused to cooperate. The second day brought more wind and for this lucky writer, a dream come true—a ride aboard Hanuman!

Watching Hanuman's sailing dream team at work. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

Hanuman’s sailing dream team at work with Ken Read at the helm and Warwick Fleury trimming the main. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

Navigator Stan Honey with Warwick. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

Race countdown aboard Hanuman. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

The immenseness of J Class sails. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

Photos may capture the beauty and elegance of the yacht, but being aboard and feeling her velvety, immense power is another experience altogether. It’s breathtaking. When her more than 10,000 square feet of sail area is deployed, Hanuman appears to take flight.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

It’s as is a flock of tall graceful birds is swooping around you in a beautiful ballet. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

The beauty and elegance of the J Class. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

Flying is always a good analogy for sailing, but the J Class takes it to a new level. Sailing aboard this majestic machine, it was as if a flock of incredibly tall graceful birds was swooping around us in a beautiful airborne ballet.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

Teamwork aboard Hanuman. Photo: ACEA/Ricardo Pinto.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

Shannon Falcone rocking the mid bow. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

Hanuman has a permanent crew of six but increases to 26 on race day. This wildly talented group is made up of professional sailors who count the world’s greatest races among their wins. It’s like a Who’s Who of yachting, including skipper Ken Read, tactician Kelvin Harrap, navigator Stan Honey, mainsail trimmer Warwick Fleury, Bowman Casey Smith and Shannon Falcone on mid bow among them. Interestingly, the core crew is basically the same for both Hanuman and Comanche.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

The Hanuman crew has sailed together for years. Photo: ACEA/Richardo Pinto.

“We’ve sailed together in one form or fashion for years and years, through America’s Cups and J Class racing and Comanche and the like,” said Ken. 

It’s a particularly Zen-like experience since most of the time the crew communicates exclusively through their headsets. The only sound much of the time is of the rig slicing through the breeze as her hull glides through the water. 

J Class Regatta Hanuman

Hanuman gingerbread cookies! Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

J Class Regatta Hanuman.

Ashley offering guest John Paul Huguley some refreshing frozen grapes. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

Marley offering guest Brian Young one of Hanuman’s famous banana rum smoothies. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

Hanuman’s luxurious multi-sensory experience extends to dining. Throughout the race, stewardesses tempted us with a variety of delicious treats including gourmet sandwiches, healthy date balls, and adorable Hanuman gingerbread cookies. We capped off the day with Hanuman’s iconic Banana Rum smoothies, a tradition when racing is completed.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

Close racing at the America’s Cup J Class Regatta. Hanuman leading Topaz on Day 2. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

Going into the final day or racing, Hanuman was tied for first with Ranger, each with seven points, and Lionheart just behind with eight. It was exciting, close racing, with Hanuman in the lead, but a dramatic turn of events, a rule infringement penalty as she approached the weather mark of the last race, dashed her hopes for the title. It was to be Lionheart’s regatta.

“It was a great event, despite that one costly error. Now we move on to the next regatta and don’t look back!” said Read.

Comanche in the Rolex Sydney Hobart

Right after the J Class Regatta, it was on to Comanche in the Transpac where they set a new record! Unlike the luxurious  Hanuman, Comanche is a stripped-down racing machine. Photo: Andrea Francolini.

They didn’t have long to wait. Just a couple of weeks later Read and company had traded the Atlantic for the Pacific, breaking records on Comanche in the legendary Transpac. They set a new Transpac monohull record of 5 days, 1 hour, 55 minutes, and 22 seconds—smashing Alpha Romeo II’s 2009 record by a half a day. They also set a new 24-hour distance record of 484.1 nautical miles.

During the J Class regatta, Kristy shared that the focus of the program was actually on Comanche in the Transpac. She didn’t race—that wasn’t in the plan—because she didn’t want to be away from her babies that long. In addition to being a world-class sailor, Kristy is also a devoted mother of two adorable young girls. Dylan, age 6, is almost ready to take the tiller herself. Kristy is thinking of starting her with Hobies.

Off the water

Kristy and her husband are globetrotters who divide their time between Palm Beach and New York when they’re not sailing. It was actually a trip to Southeast Asia that inspired the name of their yacht Hanuman. Other favorite destinations include Italy, specifically Positano, Amalfi, and Tuscany.

“I love Italy. The people are relaxed, the food is great, it’s a good place to be,” she said. They also travel home to Australia to visit friends in the harbor once a year.

Culinary passions lean toward Europe. “Italian food and French wine,” she said laughing, adding that French Burgundies are her favorite, though it really depends on where they are, given how often they travel and the opportunity to race close to some of the greatest wine growing regions of the world. 

J Class Regatta Hanuman

J Class yachts as backdrop for the Australian supermodel. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

J Class Regatta, Hanuman owner Kristy Clark

Kristy photographed by Vogue Australia aboard Athena, their 295-foot superyacht, wearing a Rochas silk dress with Tiffany & Co. jewels and Louis Vuitton luggage. Right, the model wearing a Balmain blazer, Wolford swimsuit, and Bulgari watch. Photo: Vogue Australia/Nick Leary.

I was curious what designers this supermodel favored; the answer is that she likes the classics. Ralph Lauren, Celine, and Australian designer Zimmerman particularly. “Loro Piana, Bruno Cucinelli, which are yummy to wear,” she added.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

Kristy on the rail. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

Kristy helming Hanuman in the America’s Cup exhibition race. She calls it “an experience not to be matched.” Photo: Richard Gladwell.

Kristy was at the helm of Hanuman during the America’s Cup exhibition race in Bermuda. “Being at the helm was an experience not to be matched. The sheer size, weight, and beauty of these boats together are incredible and a sight to behold on and off the water. I love our boat!” she said.

Sailing on one of these yachts is be part of something larger, part of history. Racing aboard Hanuman will be something that I treasure always—it was a true bucket list experience.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

“We’re lucky people,” Ken Read says of J Class sailors, and I couldn’t agree more. Photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture.

J Class Regatta Hanuman

Hanuman leading the fleet in the America’s Cup J Class Regatta. Photo: ACEA/Ricardo Pinto.

It’s an honor to be part of the seven yachts on the same starting line and these incredibly cool owners who put this all together—it’s special. I think every person sailing on all of these boats realizes how special it is. We’re lucky people,” Ken said.

Still, you needn’t be aboard to experience the thrill of the J Class. Just watching them is a real love affair for any sailor. Be sure to catch them in August for when they come back together for World Championships in Newport.


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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