Two-time Sydney to Hobart yacht race winner Ichi Ban has taken line honours in this year’s Adelaide to Port Lincoln race, making the challenging 156-nautical-mile journey in almost exactly 12 hours.

Key points:

  • Ichi Ban handles “tough” conditions to cross the line in almost exactly 12 hours
  • The win is due reward for the NSW crew, the only team to risk a border shutdown
  • Some regard the race as the next most challenging after the Sydney to Hobart

Ichi Ban’s 3:00am Saturday finish in testing conditions is also likely to deliver the overall title when race times are tallied tomorrow.

That adds up to a rewarding outing for Ichi Ban’s NSW crew, who were unable to defend their 2019 Sydney to Hobart handicap title when Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak led to the cancellation of the world famous event.

Skipper Matt Allen said COVID worries made for a tricky lead-up to the South Australian race. Ichi Ban was the only interstate entrant after the crew took a calculated risk to make the trip from interstate.

Ichi Ban skipper Matt steps ashore at Port Lincoln after finishing just before 3am on Saturday.(Supplied: Harry Fisher)

Fight down to the wire

South Australian rivals Hooligan and Secret Men’s Business came in half-an-hour later in a pre-dawn tussle for the line, with Hooligan snatching second place just seconds ahead.

Hooligan crew member Jacob Keough said conditions were still and slow in Adelaide but the winds picked up to 30 knots as the yachts passed Yorke Peninsula.

“We just managed to sneak in around the jetty there in Port Lincoln.

“We have some locals on board and they know the secrets of Port Lincoln, so the whole team worked together and we got the boat across the line.”

Conditions ‘like a washing machine’

Game On 2 skipper Julian Christopher Newton said it was a sleepless night for the Adelaide crew on a potentially treacherous run between the two cities.

“We took plenty of water on the boat and across the deck. There was substantial swell. It was a tough race,” Newton said.

Game On 2 skipper Julian Christopher Newton manages a smile after “a tough race”.(ABC News: Evelyn Leckie)

Race numbers were dramatically down on the usual 70 yachts, with Victorians unable to enter South Australia and border uncertainty for other potential starters. Twenty one yachts started.

Four yachts turned back to Adelaide on Friday afternoon, after damage sustained from the sea conditions.

Some regard the race as the most challenging after the Sydney to Hobart and Fresh crew member Shelley Fiegert said more eyes were on the South Australian event.

“I think it’s great we want to bring more people here to Port Lincoln, so hopefully — COVID pending next year — we can bring more competitors from interstate,” she said.