A jubiliant Mark Richards after Wild Oats XI’s seventh Rolex Sydney Hobart win
Owner Bob Oatley, and Wild Oats XI skipper, Mark Richards were in a jubilant, and justifiably very self-satisfied mood, after pulling off a record equalling seventh win in the prestigious Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, on Saturday evening.
Standing alongside Oatley after the race, skipper Mark Richards, said they hit 35kts boat speed at one stage this afternoon. 'The new foils were phenomenal,' he said. 'They gave us a lot more control in the extreme conditions, and the hard running we did today. All the work we have done this year paid off, and for a nine year old boat to be performing like this amongst some of the top ocean racing boats in the world is just fantastic', he added.
'The new mast was fantastic. The boat is going like a train. You could see it as she came up the Derwent. She has never been so fast in her life. The whole team is just ecstatic with her performance.
'We had a lot of wind coming across Storm Bay - up to 40kts at times. You just never know in this race, in this part of the world, what can go wrong. Anyway we are here, and 'Winners are Grinners' and we are grinning', he joked.
Richards even acknowledged their good luck charm, Bob Oatley's walking stick, with a small model of Wild Oats XI as its handle. 'It's a good luck charm and did the trick this week, that's for sure.'
Referring to Loyal getting away from Wild Oats XI on the first night, Richards said they just chipped away. 'And on the afternoon of the next day we just sailed past them about 200 yards away', he said. 'Just to rub it in a bit and we waved Bob's stick at them too', he added. 'it worked well, because we just kept sailing away from them from that point on.'
'There plenty of rivalry there for sure, but they are a great bunch of guys aboard Loyal. But to be able to sail away from them for most of the race is pretty incredible,' he added.
'The record is a big deal for us. This now the most famous yacht in Australian history, I would say. To have achieved a record like that in the event's 70 year history is pretty amazing, and we are very, very proud to have done it.
'It was a really tough race, right from the start. We fell into a hole on the first night and didn't do a very good job. We fell a long way behind Loyal. But the next morning it all started to come together. The boat was flying, we sailed the 13 miles out of them and went on to win by a lot more. It is just amazing.
'The team did an amazing job,' he said. Adding that 'if it wasn't for Bob, here, none of us would be out there.'
'It was a great team effort, we sailed a great second half of the race, and here we are.'
'It was a very draining race, but we are here, and very very happy. '
'Conditions were very testing. we got a bit of everything - all except for the southerly which we just missed. It had a bit of everything - that was the great thing about it.
'When you put that many miles on your rival, it is very pleasing,' he reflected. 'We were very surprised, and were waiting for them to turbo-charge and away they would go , but it never happened. It was very interesting. With the Loyal, the Volvo 70's, all the new boats that are the latest thing in ocean racing, and the skinny old Wild Oats dusted them up.
I think she will just keep getting better and better, we will just continue to press forward. The one big trophy all these guys want to win is the Sydney Hobart.
'I'm sure there will be some new ideas as to what we can do that will come out over dinner tonight.'
Owner Bob Oatley said he was never concerned when Wild Oats XI lost her lead to Perpetual Loyal, earlier in the race. 'I had great confidence in them. She's a marvellous boat.'
Blunt-speaking Oatley (83) said he was not surprised to have won by such a large margin in what had been a closely fought race. Alluding to their seven race wins, Oatley acknowledged the efforts of the other boat to have achieved the feat, Morma (later renamed to Kurrewa IV) which won seven races between 1946 and 1960.
'We've done it in a shorter time than they have , and we will go on to do more now, I hope.'
'We've got a great future,' he added. 'More wins, of course. She's beautifully built and is a wonderful boat.'