Investec Loyal takes line honours in Sydney Hobart race and beats Wild Oats by narrow margin

Following a three hour hearing at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania before the International Jury, the Race Committee’s protest against Investec Loyal was dismissed and Anthony Bell and the crew of his 100ft maxi were finally declared the line honours victors in the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

This afternoon at the Rolex Sydney Hobart 2011 prizegiving, held in front of a crowd lining Constitution Dock, CYCA Commodore Garry Linacre, Lord Mayor of Hobart, Damon Thomas, and Patrick Boutellier of Rolex Australia presented Anthony Bell with the JH Illingworth Trophy and a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece for the line honours victory.

“It is the long way around in some ways,” said a delighted Anthony Bell. “It is very relieving to get to this point. There are rules in every sport and, while it wasn’t ideal to go through this, I think that ultimately it gets beyond any question and whatever those questions that were asked have been properly answered.”

As to their victory, when yesterday Investec Loyal beat Bob Oatley’s five time Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winning maxi Wild Oats XI to the Hobart finish line by a margin of just 3 minutes 8 seconds, Bell said: “We have come second to Wild Oats quite a lot. We came second last year to them and we kept coming second to them at Hamilton Island. It is an against-the-odds victory for us….I am still waiting for one of my crew members to wake me up and say you’re on watch!

“The buzz is made best by the fact that Wild Oats XI is such a fantastic, professionally-run campaign by the Oatley family and, to have them compete so fiercely, it accelerated and heightened the value to us to go down the wire against a raceboat team like that. They are the benchmark of supermaxi racing, not just in Australia, but in the world.”

Bell explained that the query to the ABC helicopter pilot about Wild Oats XI’s sails had been made by their tactician Michael Coxon. Coxon is also Managing Director of North Sails Australia and, after the strong winds of the first night at sea, he had been concerned about Wild Oats XI’s mainsail, made of their new product 3Di and believed to be the most expensive sail of its type in the world.

“One of the things that they did take was that Michael Coxon’s question was not to gain any advantage for our boat at all, but more to test how his business client’s product, that they bought off him, was going,” said Bell of the international jury’s decision.