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Rolex Sydney Hobart – The duel to the finish

by Crosbie Lorimer & the Sail-World Team on 28 Dec 2011
Investec Loyal leads Wild Oats XI up the river off South Arm - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2011 Crosbie Lorimer http://www.crosbielorimer.com
Crosbie Lorimer was reporting from the water for Sail-World… back in the 1980’s there was a seven second finish and what we are watching now three miles away from the finish, off Hobart Constitution Dock, is Loyal and Wild Oats XI less than a minute apart, probably four to five hundred metres separating them.

‘Both on port tack, both with code zeros up. As we speak Wild Oats gybes away back onto starboard but at the moment it looks like Loyal has got her well and truly covered.

‘She is just about straight lining it, maybe a couple of more gybes to get back into the finish. The breeze has really dropped away on the river here now, probably about five to six knots south easterly while out in Tasman, out in Storm Bay, it is still blowing fairly heavily.


‘There is a massive flotilla on a really beautiful warm afternoon.

‘The sun is shining from the west just above the hills and streaky clouds to add to picture perfect conditions for the finish here.

‘Wild Oats is gybing away now Loyal has gone to cover her and again is still holding a good lead, probably half a mile lead maybe. The flotilla just going behind the pair of them, helicopters in the air as usual and a really exciting finish.

‘Here we are less than a mile and a half away from the finish. As I look straight down back down the river there is Wild Oats probably now six/seven hundred meters behind on port gybe, headed for Sandy Bay point and it is like America’s Cup yacht racing here.

‘Every time that Wild Oats gybes she rolls up her code zero and then resets it. It was a very nervous looking gybe from Loyal just then as she covers.

‘Loyal is now back on port coming across to this western side of the river to cover. She chose not to roll her code zero. She just went straight inside there, inside swap just inside the forestay but she is looking very clean.

‘She is probably pointing just about 20/25 degrees above the finish line now. She has either got to go in a very big hole or make a really nasty mistake for her not to be taking the line honours here.

‘We are probably less than five to seven minutes away from a finish. Helicopters buzzing everywhere. Probably one of the largest flotillas I have actually ever seen come out for this race and unusually remarkable flat water.



'The boats probably between them now maybe doing about 9/10 knots at maximum.

‘Pretty close reaching stuff. With this light air they are sailing fairly high angles and have just passed the Lady Nelson and Old Brig with a couple of people sitting on the yardarm right at the top with a fantastic view of Loyal coming straight at them.

‘There are large boats, small boats, boats of every kind, police trying to do something to marshal them all.

‘This is proving quite a tricky business now and as we see Loyal’s code zero there just lying forward a little bit as she goes through another gybe again, another inside gybe there.

'You can feel the guys line down the neck nervously hauling that line in as they slow gybe to make sure doesn’t suddenly get caught on the forestay as it comes round. That's pretty clean and it’s just hopping as we speak now as she goes back onto star board gybe, probably doing about maybe 7/8 knots in south easterly breeze.

‘Quite a lot of flotilla ahead of them just waiting to see them come through to the line. Oats again on starboard. Both on the same gybe.

‘The sun is shining and the back drop of the hills here for those that know that extraordinary straw coloured hills in the back drop are really quite a scene here down in Hobart. A few minutes into the finish and we will call you right into the finishing line.

‘Here we are now sitting on the very finish line. The biggest crowd I have seen in a long time usually in a night time finishes.

‘Loyal on port gybe, barely 150 meters from the line in beautiful sunshine.

‘A massive flotilla. She’s well ahead of Wild Oats now and their attempts to try and go in for ... have done so many gybes defending them they have lost ground and we are literally a couple of meters from the line now.

‘They are doing a final gybe into the line. They are going onto starboard. And here we are as she crosses the line. We are about to hear the gun go. There’s the gun.

‘Investec Loyal, after goodness knows how many attempts, has won line honours in Sydney Hobart probably by about two minutes from Wild Oats who is still starboard gybe 8/900 meters behind further out into the middle of the river.


‘That is an extraordinary piece of work. You would have to say tactically, given that probably Wild Oats was the faster boat on straight line and speed probably even in terms of crew work, more polished but the work that Stan Honey the international round the world American navigator has done working with Michael Coxon and that team on Anthony Bell’s boat has been quite remarkable in this last 24 hours in what’s been a fantastic arm wrestle, that even Ian Burns on Wild Oats has admitted has been a wonderful bit of yachting. '

‘It will be very interesting to see what Wild Oats boys have to say about that win. A really, really fine piece of work and of course the celebrities on board will be going nuts and we are about to go across and see them.’

(By the time Crosbie reached Investec Loyal, Anthony Bell had been served with a Protest from the Race Committee and so there were no celebrations or comments.)

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