Watching four super maxis dicing from the start of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 628 nautical mile race, Sandy Oatley commented: “I was very nervous watching the tracker last night – isn’t this a wonderful sight…"
Three years of trauma for the Wild Oats family when the yacht retired from the 2015 race with a torn main followed by Bob Oatley’s death in January 2016. Another retirement in 2016, this time with hydraulic ram issues. Then came last year’s much publicised finish when Wild Oats XI was penalised one hour after an incident with Comanche and lost her line honours crown and a new race record to Jim Cooney’s ‘aircraft carrier’.
This year’s victory makes it a new record of nine line honours for Wild Oats XI, which broke the seven years of line honours stranglehold of Kurrewa/Morna in 2014 with her eighth line honours crown.
It was a blissful moment for the Oatley family and their supporters – even the finish time of one day 19 hours 7 minutes 21 seconds, well outside Comanche’s race record of last year, could not wipe the smiles or tears away after the silver hulled super crossed the Castray Esplanade finish line at 08.07.21 on Friday 28 December.
Perennial skipper Mark ‘Ricko’ Richards generously handed the helm over to the Late Bob Oatley’s grandson, Daniel (Ian Oatley’s son), on his third Sydney Hobart on the family yacht, before they crossed the finish line after gybing all the way up the River under Code Zero.
Wild Oats XI won the hard-fought battle between four of the five super maxis entered in the race. Until 6.30am this morning, the four were still locked in a tight fight for honours – just 4 nautical miles separating them before Wild Oats XI came into her own.
Peter Harburg’s Black Jack from Queensland was second over the line at 8.35.06am, followed by Comanche at 8.36.09am, after the two went gybe for gybe to the finish after rounding the Iron Pot. Christian Beck’s InfoTrack finished at 08.51.17am.
Never before in the history of the race have we witnessed four yachts fight for supremacy throughout the entire race. It kept us all on tenterhooks the most exciting Sydney Hobart line honours stoush since Bob Bell’s Condor of Bermuda beat Jack Rooklyn’s Apollo over the finish line by seven seconds in 1982.
For all information and to follow the race on tracker: http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/
By Di Pearson, RSHYR media
For all the latest on the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – and to get involved in the conversation on social media – use and follow the hashtag #RolexSydneyHobart. Visit the Yacht Tracker to follow the race all the way to Hobart, and stay locked on the live standings to stay up-to-date with the latest action.