In the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the game was on for two Western Australian entrants as they were racing head to head and only to finish less than a minute apart yesterday. Optimus Prime and Knee Deep, rivalling each other as the only two yachts to represent WA, finished 10th and 12th in IRC Division 2 respectively.
Merit and Optimus Prime meet off Tasman Island - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2011
However, it was Optimus Prime skipper, Trevor Taylor, who had the biggest grin. 'We’ve both sailed two and a half thousand miles to get to this race, raced 628 nautical miles and finished less than a minute apart,' he said with wonder.
'And we often finish that way at home, too,' he said. 'Even better was the fact that we were the one in front by less than a minute - and not behind by less than a minute.'
Skipper of Knee Deep, Phil Childs, a Perth surgeon and owner of Knee Deep Wines, admitted that it was a relief to be back on dry land. 'I’ve done five Hobart’s and I think that was one of the toughest ones…Friday was just a nightmare,' he said.
'Battling the Derwent and trying to beat our rival – looks like he went over the line about two and a half boat lengths in front of us, less than a minute after 628 miles of racing.'
Childs said it was losing that was their biggest frustration, and that they had been 'on edge all day,' trying to beat Optimus Prime to the finish line. 'There’s a pressure to beat them, essentially, and I think they felt that and we felt that – they’re relieved,' he said.
Despite taking alternative sides of the course, the two yachts still ended up crossing paths after making the long trip from Perth to Sydney before following on to Hobart. Taylor believed it was the toy figure of Transformer’s character Optimus Prime, which was hanging on board, which brought the crew its good luck.
'We pulled him out after the wind shut down last night – we were behind Knee Deep – we pulled him out and now we reckon he’s our lucky charm.'
Taylor plans to take Knee Deep to Melbourne and compete in the Festival of Sails in Geelong at the end of January before sailing back home to Western Australia.
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race website