Bob Oatley's 30m supermaxi takes line honours for the fourth time. Johno Fullerton reports

Bob Oatley’s Reichel Pugh designed 30m supermaxi Wild Oats Xl created history with its 4th consecutive line honours win in the 628nm blue water classic. Skipper Mark Richard nursed her over the finish line in a dying NW breeze at 09.34hrs in the morning in a time of 1d, 20h, 34m, 14s, just under 2 hours off her own course record set in 2005.

She crossed the line doing around 10knots with a reefed main and small jib with Grant Wharington’s Don Jones designed 30m Skandia around an hour behind. The rivalry with the older maxi Skandia was intense throughout the race with the lead changing hands many times.

Once ashore skipper Mark Richards explained that the race was far from plain sailing. “She was sailing like a dog, there was a vibration and she was just down speed. We looked through the endoscopes at rudder and keel but could not see anything.”

“We were just off the pace and at the same time the Skandia guys were sailing very well, make good tactical decisions. We probably did 100 sail changes and somehow we managed to stay in contact with Skandia.”

Even a shark strike sailing at about 20 knots east of Schouten Island on Tasmania’s east coast was not sufficient to slow them down. The impact was so great the shark bounced off the forward rudder and wrapped itself around the aft rudder. Co-navigator Ian ‘Fresh’ Burns said the crew had to stop the boat, sail backwards and enable the shark to swim away.

Richards added, “When we cleared the shark away, we think we must have cleared whatever else it was, a rope or a bag on the rear rudder. As soon as we started sailing again we realised we had the old Wild Oats XI back again; we have another knot or two and within an hour we were through Skandia and stretching away from her.”

“To win the fourth race in a row is an awesome feeling, we don’t care so much about the record… we own that anyway.”

The finishing order over the line: Wild Oats Xl; Skandia; Ichi Ban; ASM Shockwave; Limit; Black Jack; Loki; Yendys; Quest
Bob Steel’s TP52 Quest is current handicap winner of the yachts that have finished.


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