Paul Clitheroe is knackered and it’s not because he’s just finished a gruelling Sydney to Hobart on board his boat, Balance.
The owner and skipper was awake all night in his Hobart hotel room sweating on whether challengers would knock his 52-footer off the top of handicap standings.
In the end, Balance tipped the scales and was the overall winner in a corrected time more than two-and-a-half hours clear of its nearest competitor.
“Knackered,” Clitheroe answered when asked how he felt holding the Tattersall’s Cup.
“As an ancient 60-year-old, it takes me probably six or eight weeks to recover.”
Up until about midnight (AEDT) the race fleet’s smallest competitor, Quikpoint Azzurro, looked likely to knock Balance off its handicap perch.
But the 33-footer missed its 4.43am (AEDT) deadline needed to claim victory.
“Those buggers on Quikpoint Azzurro, they kept me up until about 20 minutes to five because I still wasn’t sure,” Clitheroe said of the nail-biting end.
“We thought they’d beat us by three hours to be honest but the Derwent (River) can be a strange creature.”
Balance reached Hobart’s Constitution Dock on Tuesday night after three days, three hours, 50 minutes and 45 seconds at sea.
She was seventh in line honours, about 21 hours behind winner, US supermaxi Comanche.
Both title winners sustained damage during the 628-nautical mile voyage, in a race where there were 31 withdrawals from the starting fleet of 108 boats.
Balance broke her mainsail during what Clitheroe described as an awful first night at sea.
“We had the daylight beaten out of us,” he said.
“We were saying ‘please, no wind, don’t ever do that again’.
“Then in the middle of Bass Strait, guess what? No wind.”
Clitheroe was forced to take some time out below deck early in the race after hurting his back.
“I got hurled across the boat on night one and my old bones didn’t appreciate it much.”
In a sign of how rough the first night was, some members of the experienced crew were hurling off the deck, crippled by sea sickness.
“The old bones are going to the beach to try and recover,” Clitheroe said of his immediate plans.
“Right now (I’m) never doing another (Sydney to) Hobart again, (I’m) retiring undefeated. Please don’t write that down, it could be a fib.”
Frustrated skipper of Quikpoint Azzurro, Shane Kearns, said his boat had more than eight hours to cover the final 40 nautical miles of the race, but couldn’t do it.
“We really wanted to come first but there was just no wind and what wind there was, was the wrong direction,” he told AAP.
“Sailing can be a fun and cruel sport all in one go.”
Only two yachts continue to race, with latecomer Myuna III, the last due in on Friday.