Iain Jensen takes maiden Sydney to Hobart voyage on defending champion

STORM A COMIN': Iain Jensen at the Infotrack launch of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in Sydney on Tuesday. Picture: AAP Image/Brendan Esposito
STORM A COMIN': Iain Jensen at the Infotrack launch of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in Sydney on Tuesday. Picture: AAP Image/Brendan Esposito

Olympic gold medallist Iain Jensen said a Sydney to Hobart win on debut “would be up there” in his career highlights as he prepares alongside fellow Lake Macquarie sailors Ben Lamb and Tom Braidwood on InfoTrack.

Jensen, who won gold at the 2012 London Olympics and silver at the Rio Olympics in the 49er class, received a call from InfoTrack helmsman Lamb asking him to join the crew. 

"I've always wanted to do the Hobart, it's an iconic race in Australia," Jensen said. "To come home with a Hobart win would be up there for sure. [Lamb] sort of asked if I was interested in doing it. He told me who else was on board and which boat it was and it seemed like a really good opportunity.”  

The crew of Sydney to Hobart favourites InfoTrack are confident they can not only defend the title but break the race record this year. 

Tech entrepreneur Christian Beck bought 2016 line honours winner Perpetual Loyal this year and rebranded it after his company. 

Perpetual Loyal, skippered by celebrity accountant Anthony Bell, set a new race record of one day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds last year. 

"We'd like to try to keep the record," said Beck, also the skipper of InfoTrack. "If the conditions are right we'd like to try and hold on to that record. I think if it's windy we have a chance of winning.” 

Beck is estimated to be worth more than $600 million and was named Ernst and Young entrepreneur of 2017 last month.

He hasn't done offshore ocean racing before and admits it's a "whole new world".

"It's all about the crew because I don't know what I'm doing, so I really need a good crew," Beck joked.  

InfoTrack boat captain Ty Oxley will compete in his 15th Sydney to Hobart this year and is confident the 100-foot supermaxi can break the race record if the weather conditions suit. 

"It took four hours, 50 minutes off the record last year so anything's possible," Oxley said. “It's definitely capable of winning again and it's definitely proved itself to be capable in those strong conditions.” 

InfoTrack has assembled a star-studded crew with decades of Sydney to Hobart experience and Olympic medals. Some were meeting Beck for the first time at Tuesday's InfoTrack launch. 

Beck is also keen to organise a weekly race between supermaxis in the style of the start of the Sydney to Hobart, where the yachts race to be first out of the Sydney heads. 

InfoTrack, Comanche, Wild Oats XI and Black Jack are the supermaxis in the 107-strong fleet.  

"It's going to be quite a competitive year this year. Comanche will be a hard boat to beat," Jensen said.