Sayonara says farewell to record

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Six hours outside the 20-year old record, but to huge crowds, Larry Ellison's new maxi, Sayonara, made her way to Constitution Dock in Hobart, Tasmania, yesterday to win the 1995 classic offshore race from Sydney.

In the early part of the 630-mile dash to the south, everything conspired to help them beat the time of two days, 14 hours, 36 minutes and 56 seconds set by Jim Kilroy in 1975. In the latter part, everything conspired against, the wind turning from a helpful push from behind to a nose-bashing stopper from the front, before dying completely.

That made the time of three days, 53 minutes and 35 seconds all the more creditable, and showed the desirability which races of this kind offer to big-boat sailors around the world.

It also kept the purse of AUS$250,000 (pounds 120,000) offered by the sponsor, Telstra, safely in the bank. "We thought we had a great shot at the record, but the wind gods said no," Ellison said afterwards. "But that was an unbelievable experience and I would do it again."

Less sure was his co-billionaire crewman, Rupert Murdoch. It was, he agreed, "a lot bigger a race than 30 years ago" when he did it four times in his ketch, Ilina. He might return with his own maxi in a couple of years "if my sons get interested in sailing".

Second was George Snow's Australian maxi Brindabella, adrift by two hours, and third was Peter Walker's Amazon. Meanwhile, the rest of the near 100- strong fleet was also coping with calms which could throw the results of their own efforts into the air after the handicap corrections were applied to their times.