Rolex Sydney Hobart- Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI sets new race record

Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012 - Wild Oats XI a mile from the finish
Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012 - Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI has taken line honours for the sixth time and she has just broken her line honours record for 2005 by 16m and 58s.

The canting keel 100 foot Reichel Pugh designed super maxi sailed out of Sydney Heads on Boxing Day at the front of the fleet and was never challenged. She extended her lead all the way down the New South Wales coast and blasted across Bass Strait with following winds between 15 and 35 knots. She extended her lead over second placed Ragamuffin Loyal to more than 40 nautical miles.

North of Tasman Light it appeared her quest for another race record was lost as winds dropped and her speed slowed to only seven knots. When she reached Tasman Light her crew gave an ETA of 0830, almost an hour outside the race record.

As she headed across Storm Bay the breeze built and she averaged more than 11 knots.

She hit 15 knots as she passed the Iron Pot and headed up the Derwent River. The breeze gradually dropped and just four miles from the finish she hit a very light patch.

Rapid crew work and the code zero came down and as she tacked she came back on the breeze with a headsail. Just two miles from the finish she switched back to a code zero and tacked into new breeze off Stanley Point - tight reaching - towards the Hobart Casino.

It was blowing just five knots but the water was flat and she was doing an impressive seven knots. Just a mile from the finish the breeze was lighter again, straight out of the north, and just three knots at the finish line. The big boat was still managing four to five knots.

There was a huge spectator fleet plus five or six helicopters throbbing overhead.

She flicked back onto starboard just 150 meters from the line and she ghosted to an impressive line honours victory. 16 minutes and 58 seconds inside the time she set in 2005.

Back on the water Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin Loyal is still eight nautical miles north of Tasman Light, 48 nautical miles from Hobart. In third place Peter Millard and John Honan’s Lahana is still 103 nm from the finish line.

In fourth Peter Harburg’s Black Jack, is five miles back, with Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki another five miles astern.