The 68th Rolex Sydney to Hobart started at 1300, today Boxing Day, with just 76 boats after the sensational exclusion of Grant Wharington’s Wild Thing, under heavy skies with a 18-20 knot south easterly.
Wild Oats XI - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race leader
Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI blasted of the northern end of the line with Black Jack and Ragamuffin Loyal slightly behind Oats. Oats XI three sail reached towards the Harbour exit.
She already had a big lead at the first turning mark under North Head and she rounded some 90 seconds ahead of Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin Loyal, Peter Harburg’s Black Jack, then came Peter Millard and John Honan’s Lahana followed by Matt Allen’s VOR 70 IchiBan.
Running towards the Heads, the 100s and the 60s and 50s choose to go with code zeros.
Wild Oats XI put a reef in just before North Head as did Ragamuffin Loyal. The 66 footer Black Jack was close behind the two 100 footers. If she can hang with them in this early stage of the race she will be a good chance for handicap honours.
The wind outside the heads was as expected much stronger, 20 to 25 knots, south to southeast, with a very confused seaway of two to three metres.
The saddest news from the start was that Bob Steel’s TP52 Quest, the 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart who was originally in top 10 had some issues and they left the harbour half an hour after the other vessels.
Two True also had code zeros problems at the southerly mark and was bare headed for a while.
There was a lot of congestion at the southerly mark where there was not a great speed differential between the vessels. Sean Langman’s tiny Meluka of Kermandie was fourth last out the heads.
Back dockside the dramatic turn of events with Grant Warrington’s Wild Thing out of the race has dominated the news. Wild Thing was not allowed to race due to failure to submit race documents according to CYCA Commodore Howard Piggott. Wharington alleges that the CYCA race office has told him the ABS declaration he had submitted was in order on Wednesday.
Wharington was denied the right to appear at the news conference.
Sadly this is the third year in a row that the race committee has had a heavy involvement in the playing out of the race.
In the two previous years the race committee under Chairman Tim Cox has protested the leading boats only to have the international jury throw out both those protests.