The Wild Oats XI and skipper Mark Richards converted the pain of last year’s loss to Investec Loyal to an epic win by pulling off a treble in the 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Wild Oats XI secures historic treble - Wild Oats XI: The Avenger
It was touch and go for a while as Mother Nature conspired against her in the latter stages of the race. A light westerly off the east coast of Tasmania had reduced her speed to around 12 knots and the record looked lost. But as dawn crept over the southern skyline, it brought a freshened breeze and an extra three knots of speed. These three knots proved to be the difference with Wild Oats XI surging across the finishing line at a time of one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds – 16 minutes faster than the previous record they had set themselves in 2005.
And when the news came in that handicap challengers Jazz, Calm and Quest had failed to cross the line at the required time, the race record/line honours/handicap trifecta was confirmed, along with Wild Oats XI’s place in Australian yachting history.
Bowman Tim Wiseman protected by his Henri Lloyd Gore-Tex Pro Shell Ocean Explorer gear - Wild Oats XI: The Avenger
It’s been a long year of planning and development for the Wild Oats XI crew since they were pipped by Investec Loyal in last year’s ‘Blue Water Classic’. 'This time last year we resolved as a group to turn that loss into a positive,' says skipper Mark Richards. 'We had to use it as further motivation. It made us work that much harder and re-look at the whole setup to find some extra speed. It makes this victory all the more sweeter.'
This determination and work ethic showed by the crew was matched by some crucial modifications to the boat and gear, including the introduction of the latest in marine textile technology from Henri Lloyd. Having supplied them for the past five years, Henri Lloyd decked the crew in their brand-new Gore-Tex Pro Shell Ocean Explorer gear, specifically designed for the crew and the rigours that has made this grueling race (in)famous. The Ocean Explorer range is engineered with the most rugged, breathable, waterproof and windproof fabrics in the market. Its special Gore-Seam tape technology ensures that all seams are 100 percent waterproof, while its unique Optivison Hood system provides wider peripheral vision without the loss of protection to the face. 'I was really happy with the gear this year,' reports bowman Tim Wiseman, no stranger to the treachery of Bass Strait. 'I’m quite literally at the pointy end with my job and I felt super dry for the whole race. … Being dry, warm and comfortable just means that I have one less thing to worry about and I can focus on the next move ahead.'
Wild Oats XI surges out of Sydney Harbour - Wild Oats XI: The Avenger
In their signature red, the crew rejoiced their victory on Constitution Dock in Henri Lloyd’s latest Atmosphere 360 range, made from Quick-Dri, highly breathable, UV-protected fabric, offering excellent climate control. Apparently, these hi-spec features were especially appreciated by the crew on dock, soaked head-to-toe in a mix of celebratory champagne and Derwent River water.