While the super maxis were hard at it from start to finish in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, two Reichel/Pugh 66s were also hard at it not too far behind them; Phillip Turner’s Tasmanian Alive and the Oatley family’s Wild Oats X, skippered by Stacey Jackson.
In the end, and much to the delight of the locals in Hobart, Alive was victorious over the line and overall from the pro all-female crew by a nick under 13 minutes when she finished fifth over the line at 2.40.36 this afternoon.
Currently the Taswegians are second overall in the standings, but will have to wait it out to see whether others still racing can beat their time in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 628 nautical mile race.
Nevertheless, Alive’s skipper, Duncan Hine commented, “We’re ecstatic – all of us – of course we are.”
Following her finish, Alive did her lap of honour past the Taste of Tasmania, something the entire fleet get to do on finishing. It was crowded with locals and visitors alike. The cheer was more a roar, when it was announced Phillip Turner’s 66-footer was a local.
“It was amazing – wonderful – hearing the cheer from our hometown,” Hine said.
Of the race with Wild Oats X and in general, Hine said: “We had a fantastic race with them. Both of us have a competitive nature and the interest in the two of us was great. We swapped the lead once or twice and were never far apart for the entire race.
“It (the race) was a lot of hard work – before and during. The conditions were not exactly ours – we like it light (the breeze), but I guess there were reasonably light areas. But you never know whether your competitors are going to go through the same conditions as you – so you don’t know how you will finish up until a lot of the fleet are in.”
However, Hine did concede: “We are over the moon. We’ve had a wonderful couple of days. Phil and I put together a wonderful crew – and it’s not that easy to get a such good one – so we couldn’t be happier.
On board Wild Oats X, Stacey Jackson believes the crew she skippered should return to next year’s 75th edition in another bid to win the race overall.
Jackson signed off on her 12th Sydney Hobart this afternoon when she and her crew on Wild Oats X, owned by the Oatley family, crossed the Derwent River finish line. She was sixth boat to finish - five behind Wild Oats XI, which is also owned by the Oatleys, and won line honours earlier in the day.
“I reckon we have probably proven our worth this week and it would be a shame to not continue (as a crew),” Jackson said.
“I imagine all the girls would come back. We’ve had an amazing time together. We’re really looking forward to doing some more sailing.”
Jackson said there was nothing in the race that surprised her or her crew: “Other than that it was such an easy race weather wise and you’ve got to be happy with that, every single time you get it.
“It’s hard to pick a bad bit in this race, to be honest … probably listening to the memorial to the guys who were lost 20 years ago (on Thursday during the 5pm radio check) was probably the sad part of this race. But (it was) nice we could acknowledge what happened and nice that the conditions were very different to that this year.”
She said that Wild Oats X’s only set back was losing an A2 spinnaker on the first night. It would have served them so well in the 7-10 knot southerly as they sailed up the Derwent River under glorious sun.
“That hindered us a little bit this afternoon,” Jackson said.
“We came here to try to win it. We have done pretty damn well.”
As Jackson and her crew celebrated on board at the docks, they were joined by the Oatley family, including Sandy Oatley and several members of the Wild Oats XI crew, including skipper Mark Richards.
Also joining the crew was former Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, an ambassador for their campaign for ocean sustainability.
Jackson praised the Oatley family and the Wild Oats Racing team.
“The boat is an amazing vessel for the job,” Jackson said.
“We couldn’t be happier that the Oatleys have loaned it to us and that we got to team up with Wild Oats Racing to get the job done.”
Jackson said she had hoped that hearing that Wild Oats XI had won line honours would be a precursor for Wild Oats X’s handicap hopes.
“It was nice to hear our big brothers on Wild Oats XI got the line honours,” she said. “We hoped that might have been an omen for Wild Oats in general and that we could come through, but we are sitting in fourth (as they had finished) and we are happy with that.”
Jackson said she and her crew were held in suspense as they waited to learn the fate of Wild Oats XI as it fought a thrilling race for line honours with Black Jack, Comanche and InfoTrack, which finished in that order.
“It was a little unclear for us initially,” Jackson said.
“The last position we heard said they were 100 metres before the finish line and nobody else had finished.
“We were assuming that in some point in time they were going to be the winners.”
The Wild Oats X skipper will be awarded the Jane ‘Jenny’ Tate Memorial Trophy for the first female skipper to complete the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race at the official prize giving on 31 December in Hobart.
There are 72 yachts still racing, after 2 Unlimited retired after hitting a sunfish and breaking their rudder; they are heading to Triabunna. The fleet is at 79 yachts.
For all information and to follow the race on tracker: http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/
By Di Pearson and Rupert Guinness