A yacht skippered by one of Griffith’s former junior sailors has been named the overall winner of the 2015 Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
Owner and skipper of Balance, Paul Clitheroe, had spent more than a day waiting to see if any other contender could beat his handicap time and on Thursday morning officials declared the result.
“Congratulations to Paul Clitheroe and his Balance crew, officially announced as 2015 overall winners,” race organisers tweeted.
Mr Clitheroe, 60, better known for giving financial advice in the media, came to Griffith when he was eight years old. His father, an English doctor, brought the family to Australia to join some of his colleagues.
Margaret Tyson fondly remembered taking the boy to sailing lessons on Lake Wyangan with her husband, Clive.
“The sailing club had a couple of smallish boats for the Sea Scouts and when that troop disbanded the club held onto them to teach kids to sail,” Mrs Tyson said.
“I remember young Paul was very keen on sailing and when he went away to boarding school he must have gotten into it again.”
When Mrs Tyson heard Balance was leading the fleet down the east coast, she had a feeling it would win.
“I only heard Paul was doing the Sydney to Hobart a few years ago and I thought if the winds were favourable over Bass Strait he’d win,” Mrs Tyson said.
“When I heard the result on the radio on Thursday morning I let out a shout of joy!”
Mr Clitheroe sailed Balance to a class win in 2014 and managed to go one better in 2015.
With his crew of 12, Mr Clitheroe crossed the line on Tuesday night, finishing seventh in line honours with a time of three days, three hours, 50 minutes and 45 seconds.
It was some 21 hours behind race winner, US supermaxi Comanche, but Mr Clitheroe was just grateful to finish the 628-nautical mile voyage, which he said produced mixed conditions.
“I got smashed off the NSW coast and (then) I'm sitting in Bass Strait in a millpond, I could have gone fishing,” he said after reaching Constitution Dock.
The boat finished with a broken mainsail and was one of many competitors damaged, including top-three Comanche, Ragamuffin and Rambler, who were forced to make at-sea repairs to continue their campaigns.
Late on Wednesday the smallest boat in the race fleet - 33-foot Quikpoint Azzurro - had a big chance of knocking Balance off its honours perch.
Mr Clitheroe denied he was anxious waiting to see if the challenger could meet Thursday's 4.43am deadline.
“There's nothing I can do about it,” the veteran sailor said.
Ultimately, Quikpoint Azzurro couldn't meet the challenge with owner-skipper Shane Kearns frustrated to lose a large margin overnight at the mouth of Hobart's Derwent River.
“It was really frustrating, we knew we had a time limit,” Mr Kearns told AAP after crossing the line.
“We really wanted to come first but there was just no wind and what wind there was, was the wrong direction.
“Sailing can be a fun and cruel sport all in one go.”
After reaching top speeds under spinnaker coming down Tasmania's east coast on Wednesday, Quikpoint Azzurro had more than eight hours to cover the final 40 nautical miles.
But it wasn't to be.
“If the breeze had stayed in we would have won,” Mr Kearns said.
Mr Clitheroe was to be presented with the Tattersall's Cup later in the morning.
There are only a handful of yachts still to cross the finish line, with latecomer Myuna III due to arrive on Friday.
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