Perpetual Loyal heads out to sea at the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

FROM covert training sessions to skipper Anthony Bell’s own 11-day boot camp with boxer Danny Green, the Perpetual Loyal team left no stone unturned in their bid to win the Sydney to Hobart.

But it still almost ended in tears thanks to an injured ‘python’.

It was a record-breaking race to remember for Perpetual Loyal but now Bell has revealed the Australian supermaxi was just a matter of seconds from losing its place in Sydney to Hobart history.

Perpetual Loyal under sail in the race. Pic: AFP/ROLEX.

Bell on Monday told the inside story of what the supermaxi and her crew went through to claim the coveted line and race double in the famed Australian ocean race.

He also revealed it almost all came undone around two hours after the start when their secret weapon — a mammoth A2 sail Bells calls the python and believed to be the second biggest in the world at 1120 square metres plus — ripped.

Designed to propel the boat in just 20 knots or less breeze, Bell’s calculated plan was to risk everything and fly it in stronger wind to win — and set a new race record.

Perpetual Loyal leads the big boats out of Sydney Harbour at the start of the 2016 Sydney to Hobart. Pic: Brett Costello

While bowman John Flannery was able to do an early repair-on-the-run of the furling mechanism on the giant prodder at the front of the yacht, Bell said when the ‘python’ ripped there was no way to patch it.

“I bit my nails for 18 hours. It ripped about two metres. If it had gone more we were gone,’’ said Bell, whose time with Green saw him shed 18 kilos and helped his concentration improve.

“We were seconds from losing the race if it had gone, and it split on day one. We knew if we broke it more we would lose major speed.

“I just said, it will hold. We knew we were due some good luck. I took a calculated risk to keep using it. It was a gamble.

“We would have made it without it but we wouldn’t have won.’’

Australian supermaxi yacht Perpetual Loyal at the start of the race. Perpetual Loyal claimed both the line honours and a new race record.

Bell said even when former champion Wild Oats pulled out with damage he and his crew opted to continue pushing the supermaxi as hard as possible.

“We knew we couldn’t be conservative. We had to ride her hard just like we had practised,’’ he said.

The decision resulted in one of the greatest wins in Sydney to Hobart history and a new race record, with Perpetual Loyal slashing almost five hours off Wild Oats’ 2012 mark

While the race delivered a perfect result, it was not a perfect race for Perpetual Loyal.

Anthony Bell all smiles after his crew gave him the traditional skippers dunking.

‘’Things were going wrong. The prodder — we extended it by six feet — and it was shaking crazily because of the loads. We though the sail might have pulled the prod off,’’ he said.

“We had a drama when our rig tension went right down as well. But we calmly went through the options.

“It was management 101. It was a can do, take it on culture.

Bell paid tribute to his crew and boat captain Tony Mutter who also helped orchestrate Comanche’s line honours win a year ago.

“There wasn’t a sour word, any blow ups. It was an uplifting culture,’’ Bell said.

“The culture on our boat when we last won (in 2011) was great. It had a happy culture. But this time we had more mongrel.

“And when you have that you have to be careful not to loose the camaraderie. We didn’t.’’

Bowman John Flannery in the firing line on the supermaxi.

This article was sourced from