Wild Oats XI crossed the Hobart finish line just outside Constitution Dock this morning at 10.24 to take out the line honours win in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race for the third year in a row.
Three time winners - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2007
City Index Leopard was only 27 minutes behind having closed the gap during the early hours of this morning from twenty down to four nautical miles.
As Wild Oats cleared some light winds just south of the Iron Pot and changed up gears with the breeze increasing from the north in the Derwent River, Leopard could be seen powering north on the horizon.
If Wild Oats skipper Mark Richards was already anxious at this stage, the fickle Derwent River was to make him more so.
From a steady fifteen knots the breeze suddenly dropped to almost nothing for several minutes just five miles from the finish, before white caps on the northern horizon indicated more than 25 knots of breeze hammering down the Derwent.
A sixth sail change in the river had Wild Oats quickly dropping her Code Zero, reefing her main and setting her staysail just as the new beeze hit.
From there she comfortably laid the finish line and a happy and very relieved Mark Richards could smile and relax.
'Nervous is an understatement' said Richards on Constitution Dock later, talking of the ever-looming Leopard.
The expansive Mike Slade was his usual jovial self, 'I am just very happy to be here and glad that we have done the race' adding 'and looking on the bright side it's also an improvement on our third place last time'.
Bob Oatley and his crew stepped aboard Leopard as she docked to exchange congratulations.
Crosbie Lorimer was in the flotilla that followed Wild Oats to the finish from the Iron Pot and captured these images.
Bob Oatley raises a glass - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2007
Mike Slade - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2009
Mark Richards gets the ritual dunking - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2007
Leopard’s welcoming committee - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2007
Bob Oatley Mike Slade and Chris Sherlock share a laugh - Rolex_Sydney_hobart_Yacht_Race
Wild Oats XI crossing the line - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2007
Wild Oats XI powering up the river - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2007