Kristy Hinze-Clark: Life's Swell!

Yachts And Whatnots: Kristy Hinze-Clark, photographed in 2011 for Vogue Australia by Nick Leary, wears an Eres swimsuit with HermeĢ€s wedges. This month, the daring yachtswoman took out line honours in The Sydney To Hobart aboard Comanche.

In her first ocean race, Kristy Hinze-Clark made history as the only female co-owner to have taken out line honours in the perilous Sydney To Hobart. Such a daring feat! But then Kristy, a voracious go-getter, has always loved an adventure. In 2011, I had the thrill of interviewing the model on board her super yacht, Athena, during a Christmas stopover in Sydney for vogue australia. Hinze-Clark couldn't have been more likeable, candid and fun – even then she talked about her devotion to the sea. Here is an excerpt from the archives …

  1.  
  2. Photographs Nick Leary  |  Fashion editor  Victoria Collison
  3. Words by Natasha Inchley  | Makeup Kellie Stratton

It is much too early in the day for champagne, which is a shame because the sight of super yacht Athena, a 90-metre marvel of maritime architecture anchored in the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour and bathed in the pink and gold morning light, deserves a toast of some description. On board, the model Kristy Hinze-Clark is curled up in a booth on the ship’s sun deck, quietly sipping green tea in her pyjamas. Her hair is twisted loosely into a bun and her skin, even without makeup, is like double cream. The Vogue crew, on the other hand, are a little more conspicuous, laden with suitcases and buzzing with the prospect of documenting Hinze-Clark in the private sanctuary she shares with her husband, the Texan software billionaire Jim Clark. 

Top Brass: above left, Hinze-Clark wears a Rochas silk dress with Tiffany & Co. jewels and Louis Vuitton luggage; right, the model wearing a Balmain blazer, Wolford swimsuit and Bvlgari watch. 

It’s true that the intrigue surrounding their relationship has upstaged even the luxury on board her yacht. Hinze-Clark herself is the first to acknowledge that the marriage sparked a hell of a lot of commentary from friends and media alike, some of it kinder than others. But despite the 36-year age difference, few had stopped to consider that, in pure matchmaking terms, the sunny-faced model from Queensland was perhaps better qualified than most for a partnership with a man known to have a voracious appetite for life.

When we discuss the romance, Hinze-Clark is candid: “We met through mutual friends at a lunch in New York. Lunch turned into dinner and we didn’t leave each other’s side after that moment,” she explains. Still, it must have been such a strange collision of worlds. What did they possibly talk about? “We felt completely and utterly comfortable in each other’s company,” she says. “We sat there talking from noon right through until late that night, we clicked.”

“Being down in the water with sharks – it sounds terrifying but in fact there’s something so ... incredibly empowering about it."

Which brings us to the fish, their mutual interest. Just as some couples favour romantic dinners, the Clarks have the deepest depths of the ocean on their minds. So much so, the entrepreneur flew in a team of naval officers to instruct Hinze-Clark on how to dive using rebreathers. She then served as an underwater gofer during the filming of The Cove, the Academy-Award winning documentary that brought to light the slaughter of dolphins at the hands of Japanese fishermen. Clark, a passionate environmentalist, financed the film and garnered much support during its promotion, not just from fellow conservationists but also from the couple’s stellar line-up of high-profile friends, including actor Ben Stiller, the late director Nora Ephron and designer Calvin Klein.

Ecology is big on the couple’s agenda: Hinze-Clark is on the board of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and serves as an ambassador for the Protect Our Coral Sea campaign, while Clark's philanthropic efforts have funded scientific research at California’s Stanford University and he sits on the board of the National Council of World Wildlife Fund. They use their time sailing the world to raise awareness of the earth’s fragile ecosystem. “I had never tried diving before I met Jim, but now I’m addicted. It’s mind-blowing!" says Hinze-Clark. "Being down in the water with sharks – it sounds terrifying but in fact there’s something so ... incredibly empowering about it.”

The full version of Life's Swell appeared in the May 2012 issue of Vogue Australia.