Wild Oats XI confirmed as handicap winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, making her the first yacht to win the fabled treble for 60 years
Wild Oats XI has been confirmed as handicap winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, making her the first yacht to win the fabled treble since Captain John Illingworth and his yacht Rani won the inaugural race across Bass Strait 60 years ago.
Bob Oatley built this hi-tech multi-million dollar maxi to win line honours. To break the course record was an added bonus. To win the Tattersalls Cup for fastest yacht under IRC handicap was beyond his wildest dreams.
There was a tear in his eye yesterday as he looked down the list of past winners engraved on the base of the JJ Illingworth Trophy, the prize for first boat to Hobart. He flew back to Sydney this morning, but how must he be feeling now to have won the most coveted trophy of all, the Tattersalls Cup?
Geoff Lavis, Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, confirmed this afternoon that none of the boats still racing could challenge Wild Oats’s position at the top of the IRC handicap leaderboard. “The oldest boat in this year’s fleet, Ray White Koomooloo, which was overall winner in 1968, has been the closest competitor to threaten Wild Oats XI all day,” said Commodore Lavis. “It shows that any well-sailed, well-founded boat has a realistic chance of winning this race.”
The Commodore paid tribute to Bob Oatley and the crew of Wild Oats XI, who launched this state-of-the-art 98-foot maxi less than a month ago. “This treble has eluded all past competitors but now finally it’s happened. It’s a difficult thing to do and how many years before it happens again, well that’s anyone’s guess. This year the weather was quite benign, and quite kind to these big boats. You can’t expect that too often in this race.”
By 1900 hours this evening, 28 yachts had crossed the Hobart finish line, with four yachts retired, the most recent being Star Dean – Willcocks, due to rigging problems. The remaining 53 yachts still racing are expected into Hobart before the end of 2005, with the possible exception of the diminutive Gillawa. Dave Kent’s 33-foot cruiser is lagging some way behind the fleet, but he can expect the same rousing reception from the people of Hobart, however long it may take him to get there.