sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery

 

Sail-World.com : Winner takes all for Wild Oats XI

Winner takes all for Wild Oats XI

A few days before the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, skipper of the brand-new maxi Wild Oats XI, Mark Richards, commented that winning the race on handicap was the real prize.

'It's a bigger thrill for a boat to win on handicap than to get line honours,' he said. 'Line honours this year is between four or five boats really. Handicap is between the whole fleet. That is the goal that everyone aspires to. All the guys up in the CYCA clubhouse with their photos on the wall, they are the handicap winners. From the sailors' point of view, that is the real trophy, to win the Tattersalls Cup.'

Little could Richards have realised that less than a week later, he would become the first skipper since Rani's victory in the inaugural race of 1945 to win 'the treble' - not just line honours, but the handicap victory and a new course record to boot. Many experts believed Bob Oatley's brand new maxi would get to Hobart at all. It was not an unreasonable assumption. You don't launch the world's most hi-tech and technically complex racing yacht just three weeks before an ocean race that takes you into some of the most treacherous seas in the world - and expect to get away with it, let alone win the race.

For that reason Alfa Romeo, a virtual twin of Wild Oats XI, was the bookies' favourite to win the race because owner/skipper Neville Crichton had spent five months working his Reichel/Pugh design up to speed. And when the two sisterships squared up to each other in the inshore series a week before the Hobart start, Alfa Romeo beat Wild Oats in almost every race.

Even then, despite Crichton's preparation, Alfa Romeo was considered touch and go for making it the full 628 miles to Hobart. Only if the 85-boat fleet received an uncharacteristically kind forecast did pundits believe the two newest maxis capable of going the distance. Waiting in the wings were the three leading contenders of last year's race - Konica Minolta, Skandia and the 2004 race winner Nicorette, now rebranded and repainted in the colours of the telecom company AAPT.

But the weather gods decided to be lenient and dealt one of the kindest weather forecasts seen for many years. Sean Langman, skipper of AAPT, said it was a dream scenario for the leading maxis. 'There is a fantastic opportunity for the treble with this forecast. The treble of winning line honours, handicap and the race record, which we haven't seen for some time.'

In front of thousands of spectators crowding the shores of Sydney Harbour for the Boxing Day start, along with hundreds of spectator boats and a swarm of TV choppers buzzing overhead, first blood went to Mark Richards, when he helmed Wild Oats out through the famous Sydney Heads two boat lengths ahead of Alfa Romeo.

Just behind the maxis, Alex Thomson and the crew on Hugo Boss were getting all the attention of the TV cameras and photographers as they started the race wearing suits and ties. Nick Moloney, the famous Aussie round-the-world sailor, was on board as well.

Further back in the fleet, the crew of Quest honoured their skipper, John Bennetto, who had died the week before, by throwing a wreath into the water next to the Rolex marker buoy, before continuing south towards Bennetto's birthplace of Hobart. The great sailor known to many as 'The Fish' holds the record of 44 Rolex Sydney Hobarts, a remarkable testament to his tenacity and dedication to the race.

Not long after the start, Alfa Romeo had overhauled Wild Oats by switching headsails earlier. It seemed that Alfa's crews' greater familiarity with their boat was paying off, while the Wild Oats crew were learning as they went along. Mark Richards and the crew had sailed little more than 300 miles aboard Wild Oats XI before the start - not even half a Hobart of experience to their name.

By the following morning, however, Wild Oats had turned the tables after a bold move inshore by the boat's co-navigators, Adrienne Cahalan and David Dickson. 'We went inshore, and that's where it made the difference for us,' commented Cahalan on satellite phone. 'We got a bit further down into the rhumb line down south and that's where the wind came in for us. We got a nice windshift off Gabo Island and I think that's where we took a step forward. We had a little more wind than we expected. We got the better case scenario where we kept some wind all night, whereas I don't think some of the others did.'

Surely it would simply be a matter of time before the greater experience and firepower of Crichton's crew - which numbered Ben Ainslie and Adrian Stead among the afterguard - would grind down the leader. But position reports showed Wild Oats gradually trickling away from Alfa Romeo. But as is so often the case, there was a sting in the tail as Wild Oats entered the final phase of the race. With just 40 miles to go, sailing into Stormy Bay, the vang wrenched away from the mast. And then just 10 miles from the finish, as the maxi entered the Derwent River in 30 knots breeze, a wayward running backstay caught the top batten pocket and wrenched the batten out of the sail. The mainsail was now beginning to flog, and the crew were forced to lower the sail and limp to the line under jib alone. In fact, such is the efficiency of this amazing boat, that 'limp' was scarcely the word to describe her majestic progress, as Wild Oats continued to make 12 knots into the wind with just one sail flying.

Helmsman Mark Richards raised his fist aloft in victory as he helmed the Reichel/Pugh 98-foot maxi across the Hobart finish line just 10 seconds past 8 o'clock in the morning. Not only had Bob Oatley's team taken line honours, but they had set a new time of 1 day, 18 hours and 10 minutes for the 628-mile course. They had shattered the Volvo Ocean 60 Nokia's longstanding record by more than an hour.

'Huge, huge relief,' was Richards' breathless reaction to winning line honours. 'We sailed a pretty flawless race. The fact that we had problems in the last ten miles is a shame, but that's ocean racing.' Alfa Romeo reached Hobart just over an hour behind Wild Oats, and Neville Crichton couldn't disguise his anguish at missing line honours. 'They outsmarted us,' he admitted dockside. 'We gave it our best shot. We've beaten them in six out of seven races so far, they've beaten us one. But this was the important one.'

Some hours later, the other three maxis reached Hobart. Skandia was third across the line, despite having suffered an engine breakdown and being forced to lock her canting keel in the centre. Konica Minolta was next, and had had a trouble-free race. AAPT broke her boom and sailed the last hundred miles without it. Whatever problems they may have had, however, the wind was at least playing in favour of the big boats. The maxis escaped the worst of a light patch, which was slowing the progress of the small and mid-sized boats in Bass Strait. As the fleet moved further south, they would then encounter winds up to 40 knots.

Quantum Racing is a DK46 that in a 'normal' Rolex Sydney Hobart Race would be expected to do well on handicap. Despite impeccable boat preparation, along with victory in the Rolex Trophy during the build-up to this race, Ray Roberts could not get close to Wild Oats's handicap time. 'I don't think we could have sailed a much better course than we did,' said Roberts, 'but the hard reaching and running doesn't suit this boat and that's why we weren't up in the money for this race.'

Like nearly every boat, Quantum Racing had her moments of trouble. 'One of our steering cables broke, and we did a few 360-degree circles in the middle of Bass Strait while we tried to set up some temporary steering. We laid the boat over and trashed a spinnaker while we tried to fix it. That incident dampened our spirits a bit, but the boys did a good job of getting things up and working again.'

For the most part, the conditions were kinder than the average Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, evidence




by Rolex Media Centre

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=20864

7:11 PM Sun 1 Jan 2006 GMT






Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
2005 Rolex Sydney Hobart

Related News Stories:

03 Jan 2006  Gillawa finishes Sydney Hobart race
01 Jan 2006  Quantum Racing and Loki win Rolex Challenge
31 Dec 2005  Koomooloo beats her own time by 12 hours
31 Dec 2005  Dublin to Hobart, Take Two
30 Dec 2005  The victor honours the yachts still out there
30 Dec 2005  43 Hobart sailed, one to go
30 Dec 2005  Koomooloo storming home
29 Dec 2005  Wild Oats wins the Rolex Sydney Hobart treble
29 Dec 2005  Official – Wild Oats XI takes triple
29 Dec 2005  Old Master leads Sydney 38’s
MORE STORIES ...

News - USA and the World

Big Boat Series - It's not the size, it's the length by Erik Simonson, Pressure-Drop.US,




















470 Men and Women Worlds - Champs take over leaderboard by 470 International Association Class,






































ISAF Sailing World Championships - Watch medal races live here by Dan Ibsen, Sail-World Europe & UK editor,








470 Men and Women Worlds - Vadlau and Ogar into pole position
2014 Chicago Match Cup - Defending champion on top
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Strong competition for RS:X fleets
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Big breeze on day 6 + Video
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Buckingham into Laser Medal Race
U.S. Multihull Championship - Hobie Alter Trophy to be decided
ISAF Sailing Worlds - The kind of form most sailors only dream about
Royal Cup Marina Ibiza - Quantum Racing ahead of target
ISAF Worlds Santander - 19 Rio 2016 Laser Radial spots awarded
Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds - 21 broadcasters to take live coverage
Rolex Swan Cup - Looking forward to the next 30 years
America’s Cup: The Future is foiling – AC45s to be modified
Volvo Ocean Race: Win a stopover trip by designing an ECsix T-Shirt
Red Bull 49erFX: On the eve of the Worlds in Santander
America's Cup: Ben Ainslie Racing launches partnership with Yamaha
2014 Chicago Match Cup - Starts tomorrow
Rio 2016 Daylight the issue for Olympic sailing regatta
ISAF Sailing World Championships - USA 470's and Lasers battle at top
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Santander - Day 5 video highlights
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Santander images by Jesús Renedo
PWA Cold Hawaii World Cup - No action on day 2   
470 Men and Women Worlds - Game on for Olympic Qualification   
ISAF Sailing World Championships: Finns off to slow start in Santander   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Seesaw Day 5 in Santander + Video   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - 470 sailors shine in Santander   
Royal Cup Marina Ibiza - Kiwi Ray Davies returns to TP52 fleet   
Starboard Hatteras Wave Jam - No windsurfing action on day 1   
A complete recap of the most successful Melges 20 World Championship   
Rolex Big Boat Series - Prizegiving images by Chuck Lantz   
ISAF Santander - Upwards path for Austrian women's 470 crew + video   
18ft skiffs: Carnage compilation from the glory days of the Grand Prix   
ISAF Worlds: Video from the British Sailing Team   
Bart's Bash expected to set new records this weekend   
PWA Cold Hawaii World Cup - Marcilio Browne wins Super Session   
470 Men and Women World Championships - Racing abandoned on day 2   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Day 4 images from Santander   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander: Emerging Nations Program sailors shine   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Teasing winds play havoc on day 4   
ISAF Sailing World Championships: Hot conditions in Santander on day 4   
Santander ISAF Sailing World Championships joins Bart’s Bash   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT