Tuesday, 29 December 2009

RSHYR: Sport Stars Thrive at Sea

Sean Langman and his all-star crew aboard Investec LOYAL. Image copyright ROLEX/Daniel Forster.

by Greg Peart and Lisa Ratcliff

Six yachts have now completed the 65th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race including Investec LOYAL, dubbed ‘the celebrity boat’ which left Sydney Harbour Saturday afternoon with a bunch of sports stars and sailors, and arrived with a tight team of yachties who can all talk the talk and walk the walk – albeit a little wobbly after nearly three days at sea.

Boxing world champion Danny Green described his experience once Investec LOYAL had docked in Hobart, his first visit to the island state, after finishing fourth over the line. “The whole thing was a buzz. We all pulled together, there was great camaraderie.”

When asked what he had planned for his first moments ashore, Green said “brush my teeth, have a shower, and I’m looking forward to a cold schooner.”

Olympic gold medallist Grant Hackett said “it was very trying, very rewarding getting to the other side” while Wallaby hooker Phil Waugh described the 628 nautical mile ocean classic as a big challenge. “Early on there were some hairy moments. We didn’t get much sleep. I really enjoyed being out there. Physically it was harder than I thought; it’s very different to playing rugby.”

Investec LOYAL’s navigator David Dickson summed up the trip beautifully, “I’ve never laughed so much on a boat. The owner’s rep, Ross Field, is a passionate Kiwi supporter. The banter between him and the two Phils [Phil Waugh and Phil Kearns] was priceless.”

Skipper Sean Langman had nothing but praise for the sport’s latest recruits. “These guys never stopped. They are excellent, competitive men who don’t give up. I hope they come back.”

On his own plans, Langman has no doubt. “I’ll be back next year. It’s still unfinished for me.”

Wild Oats XI and ICAP Leopard crossing swords. Image copyright ROLEX/Daniel Forster.

Mike Slade’s UK 100 footer ICAP Leopard finished third over the line early this morning.

In typical Slade vernacular, he offered the following, “When Napoleon turned up at Waterloo he knew he was in for a bad day, he had a bad day at the office didn’t he? I’ve been a bit like that. It was a fantastic race and well done, Alfa, bloody marvellous.”

Slade said that ICAP Leopard had gambled by sailing farther offshore. “We went offshore because there was no point in covering Alfa’s tracks; she had about 20 miles on us and we just got locked out. We had about four shut-downs and it was as frustrating as hell. We sat there for hours, watching them go away. That cost us. We got punished.

“Despite suggesting pre-race that this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart would be his last, Slade was this morning overhead saying “We will be back to do another one I think. The boat’s a glutton for punishment.” Finishing out of the top two can be a strong motivator.

ICAP Leopard’s tactician Ray Davies this morning paid credit to line honours winner Alfa Romeo.

“The Alfa Romeo boys really deserved to win. They sailed tactically a very, very good race and kept the boat sailing well in all conditions. We had a shocker.

“Considering the conditions, morale was really good on board. We had a very good first part of the race. We were hoping for a bit of breeze and a bit of luck, but we didn’t get either. The guys on board just kept their chin up even when it became pretty evident we just weren’t going to be able to draw them back.

“Now that the pain’s over, everyone loves their yachting and we are going to be back for many more Rolex Sydney Hobarts, that’s for sure.”

Cricket’s on the agenda this afternoon for the 22 man ICAP Leopard crew, the right amount for two teams to square off at the Queenborough Oval at Sandy Bay, Hobart. Half time refreshments include Pimms, English Breakfast tea and cucumber sandwiches.

The next boat due to finish is Ludde Ingvall’s 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winner YuuZoo, due to cross the finish line off Hobart’s Castray Esplanade at 1pm.

The last boat in the fleet, Chris Dawe’s Polaris of Belmont, is the only starter currently not expected to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Hobart.

From a starting fleet of 100 there are have only been five retirements.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

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