Please select your home edition
Edition
SOUTHERN-SPARS-OFFICIAL-SUPPLIER-52-SS728-X-90

Sydney Hobart Race, high-latitude inspiration

by David Schmidt 1 Jan 2019 08:00 PST January 1, 2019
Wild Oats XI - Finish 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race © Rolex

As 2018 draws to a close and as 2019 springs anew, I find myself drawn to two impressive stories, both of which unfurled in 2018's final days and serve as great inspiration for us all as we collectively sail into the New Year and the possibilities and opportunities it affords those with adventurous hearts.

The first piece of inspiration comes courtesy of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, where the Oatley family's Wild Oats XI took line honors in this storied, 628-nautical mile bluewater event for the ninth time, dispatching the course in a mere one day, 19 hours 7 minutes 21 seconds. This was followed by a protest concerning use of the yacht's AIS unit, however this protest was dropped, leaving skipper Mark Richards and the Wild Oats XI crew to celebrate the end of 2018 in style.

While this doesn't touch Comanche's record from 2017 of one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds, this strong showing makes Wild Oats XI the most successful line-honors contender in the race's proud 74-year history and leaves her challenged only by Kurrewa/Morna's record of seven line-honors wins during the race's nascent years.

This line-honors win also marks an important rebound for the Wild Oats XI family, as the team's patron, Bob Oatley, passed away in January of 2016 at the age of 87. Additionally, "WOXI," as she is affectionately known, was forced to retire in 2015 and 2016 due to breakage, followed by a gutting penalty call in 2017 that saw the highly decorated super maxi penalized for an incident that took place near Sydney Heads; this penalty cost WOXI both line honors and a new race record.

"It's redemption for us, that's for sure," said Richards in an official race release. "After last year's result [that was] so disappointing. Today was Wild Oats' 10th time over the line first, regardless of what anyone else says. We are so happy with the result. It was an amazing, amazing contest to the end."

"This is one of the best feelings, not just for me, but for the whole team, the Oatley family," continued Richards. "After an event like last year, to come through and redeem yourself, today is a wonderful, wonderful feeling. Money can't buy that sort of stuff."

Even cooler, this proud line-honors win wasn't the only time that the Wild Oats moniker made the press in this year's race, as the Oatley family loaned their old ride (a Reichel/Pugh 66) to skipper Stacey Jackson (AUS) and her all-female, all-star crew, who took second place in IRC aboard Wild Oats X, finishing just astern of Phillip Turner's Alive. Jackson's crew included Volvo Ocean Race veterans Dee Caffari, Sophie Ciszek, and Libby Greenhalgh, the later of whom served as navigator. Wild Oats X officially sailed under the name "Ocean Respect Racing" and was also supported by 11th Hour Racing.

"I reckon we have probably proven our worth this week and it would be a shame to not continue [together as a crew]," said Jackson, who is a veteran of the VOR and 12 Sydney Hobart Races, in an official race release. "I imagine all the girls would come back. We've had an amazing time together. We're really looking forward to doing some more sailing."

At the risk of treading close to any jingoistic lines, as an American sailing editor it was also fantastic to see that two of the three American-flagged yachts that were entered in this demanding offshore contest finished in the top ten in IRC.

Prospector, which was skippered by Terrance Glackin, took sixth place on corrected time, while Ron O'Hanley's Privateer, which was skippered by Scot Innes-Jones, took seventh place; John Murkowski's Joy Ride corrected-out to finish in 55th place out of 68 boats.

As of this writing, all boats made it to Hobart, allowing crews and families to properly ring in the New Year after completing one of yachting's great contests.

On a decidedly different note, the other story that has captured my attention in recent months was the unofficial "race" to become the first person to cross Antarctica solo, unsupported, unaided, and sans the aid of kites, sails or other propulsion. Two men, Colin O'Brady (USA; 33) and Captain Lou Rudd (UK; 49) both began the dangerous and sub-freezing journey of 932 (statutory) miles on November 1, 2018, starting from positions roughly one mile and a few minutes apart, each dragging 300-pound sleds behind their skis.

While both men had significant adventure resumes involving high-altitude exploits including the Explorer's Grand Slam (Google it and be amazed), high-latitude adventures such as crossing Antarctica have claimed the lives of other talented adventurers, andmuch like the sailors who are currently contesting the Golden Globe Race 2018there was no guarantee of safety or even survival when they clicked into their skis and began what would be a 54 day ordeal for O'Brady, who reached the Ross Ice Shelf on December 26, 2018, to win this grueling contest.

"After 54 days of pulling my sled across the frozen continent, I completed my mission becoming the first person in history to traverse the continent of Antarctica solo, unsupported and unaided from coast to coast," said O'Brady in an official release, once his skis had fallen silent. "I arrived to the wooden post marking the edge of the continent where the Ross Ice Shelf begins and made a tearful call home to my family to tell them I had arrived safely. I did it!!!"

Impressively, O'Brady, who had been leading Rudd for most of the journey, cemented his place in the history books with a final 32-hour non-stop push, followed by a long and well-earned slumber in his tent as he waited on Rudd to complete his journey, which he did roughly 48 hours astern of O'Brady.

So, as we all begin our journey into 2019, consider these stories of adventure and can-do competence in the face of big, bold challenges. Irrespective of whether they involves skis or sails, these adventurers demonstrated what can happen when one commits to slipping the (metaphoric) mooring lines and boldly (and metaphorically) sailing far outside of the sight of land.

Sure the waves might be big, but with the right boat, team, preparation and training, almost anything can be achieved.

Sail-World.com wishes you and your family a happy, healthy and successful 2019!

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

Related Articles

Savouring being back out on the water
But missing the karate sailing It seems I struck a chord when we published 'The great grass-roots revival?' a fortnight ago. Since then lockdown restrictions have been gradually eased in both Australia and England: we're allowed to go sailing! Posted today at 5:00 pm
Andy Burdick on Melges' 75th anniversary
Andy Burdick on Melges Performance Sailboats' 75th anniversary I checked in with Andy Burdick, president of Melges Performance Sailboats, via email, to learn more the company's proud boatbuilding history. Posted on 21 May
In conversation with Grapefruit's Andy Yeomans
From large-scale events to social distance signage for your club or business The Covid-19 crisis has caused the cancellation of all large events, wiping out the core of Grapefruit's business, but Andy soon had the team at work producing the social distancing signage and equipment. Posted on 20 May
Paul Westlake on North Sails' TP52 R&D work
David Schmidt checks out the development work in the TP52 class David Schmidt checked in with Paul “Flipper” Westlake, North Sails' executive vice president, via email, to learn more about North Sails' sail development work for the TP52 class. Posted on 19 May
X2. Times three...
This is the third instalment of information about the exciting new X2 by Farr This is the third instalment of information about the exciting new X2 by Farr. Since its inception we have been excited about the project, if for no other reason than it stood up to be counted as a true racing boat. Posted on 17 May
Terry Hutchinson guests on the Happy Hour podcast
Executive Director and Skipper of America's Cup Challenger NYYC American Magic In this episode we hear from Terry Hutchinson, Executive Director and Skipper of America's Cup Challenger NYYC American Magic. We hear about hours of grinding, preparing for New Zealand amidst COVID-19, and Terry even tells the boys "to grow a pair"... Posted on 16 May
The Colossus
There are boat builders the world over, and then there is Groupe Beneteau There are boat builders the world over, and then there is Groupe Beneteau. The conglomerate is one giant powerhouse, building boats across Europe, and in the USA as well. Posted on 15 May
The Red Mist falls in THE splASHES
Brits and Aussies clash in virtual Portsmouth & Sydney Harbour There's nothing quite like the rivalry between the British and Australians in sport, exemplified in cricket, rugby and sailing; so with eSailing taking such a hold in the past couple of months during lockdown, it was time for the inaugural splASHES. Posted on 14 May
Reflections on a life afloat: Frostbiting lessons
Latest musings from Sail-World's David Schmidt in the USA Given the amount of time that Washington State's novel coronavirus lockdown has given me for contemplation, I've recently found myself reflecting on my first day of frostbiting - and Laser sailing - in 1989 at the ripe age of 13. Posted on 12 May
The great grass-roots revival?
We are all united by our passion for being on the water We've all been missing our sailing during lockdown, but the months we've been off the water have given us time to reflect on what it is about sailing that we really miss most. Posted on 10 May
ETNZShop-SUPPORTERRANGE-728x90 HR BottomHighfield Boats - Sailing - FOOTERMarine Resources 2019 - Footer