100ft British super-maxi beaten by Kiwi and Australian rivals, just missing out on historic treble
ICAP Leopard during the Sydney-Hobart. Image copyright Andrea Francolini.
by Annabel Merrison
At 05:45 (local time) on the 29 December 2009 ICAP Leopard, the 100ft British super-maxi racing yacht owned by Helical Bar PLC chief executive Mike Slade, crawled up the Derwent river to finish third in what has been a light and arduous Sydney-Hobart race. After a long and hard-fought battle with her lighter rivals Wild Oats XI and eventual winner Alfa Romeo, the exhausted ICAP Leopard crew crossed the Tasmanian finish line after a torturous two days, 16 hours and 45 minutes at sea.
Whilst the Rolex Sydney-Hobart is well known for the fearsome conditions that it often throws at its competitors, this year’s edition was shifty and tactical almost from the word go. Faced with unstable weather conditions for the entire race, tacticians and navigators were hard-pressed to find every puff of breeze in order to gain any advantage after an uncharacteristically cold and blustery opening few hours.
ICAP Leopard’s veteran navigator Hugh Agnew commented: “This has been one of the most challenging races I have ever come up against. Forecasts changed hourly in the run-up to the start and it was impossible to predict the weather right up until the finish gun fired. It has been an immense tactical battle. We are disappointed not to have taken line honours but our congratulations go out to Alfa Romeo. They opened up a gap on day two and sailed an impeccable race from then on.”
This result means that ICAP Leopard has also missed out on a historic treble. Having been first home in the Rolex Fastnet and Middle-Sea races earlier in the season, Slade and his crew had the opportunity to be the first to win all three “offshore classics” in a calendar year. Unfortunately, with conditions suiting their lightweight rivals, it wasn’t to be.
Owner and skipper of ICAP Leopard, Mike Slade, commented: “Another Rolex Sydney-Hobart race and another cracking battle! Whilst this race may not have been a ‘classic’ it was a fantastic tussle. We are disappointed, of course, not to have taken line honours and the treble but we have had a brilliantly successful season nonetheless. The crew has been fantastic. In conditions that have not always suited us we have matched and even outpaced our rivals and it is a huge testament to Chris [Sherlock - Boat Captain] and the team that we managed to keep Wild Oats behind us for so long.
“All that remains now is for us to paint the town red, beat the locals at a spot of cricket and enjoy spending some time with old friends before the flight home!”
ICAP Leopard's Crew for the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race 2009
BOW 1: ZANE GILLS
BOW 2: JUSTIN SLATTERY
BOW 3: ROB WADDELL
BOW / TRIM CO -ORDINATOR: NIPPER (GUY) SALTER
MAST: JOSH CLARK
MAST: DYLAN CLARKE
MAST: VOLKAN DIKMEN
PIT: KELVIN RAWLINGS
PIT: TIM SELLARS
PIT: JIM TURNER
TRIMMER: JEZ ELLIOT
TRIMMER / CREW COORD: JASON CARRINGTON
TRIMMER: BOB WYLIE
TRIMMER: TIM BURNELL
WATCH CAPTAIN / MAINSHEET: MARK THOMAS
HELM / TACTICS: RAY DAVIES
SKIPPER / HELM: MIKE SLADE
WATCH CAPTAIN / RUNNER: BRAD JACKSON
RUNNER / NAV: JULES SALTER
BOAT CAPTAIN / BUTTONS / HELM: CHRIS SHERLOCK
RUNNER / NAV: HUGH AGNEW
WATCH CAPTAIN: ROB GREENHALGH
TRAVELLER: HUGO SLADE