Tuesday, 29 December 2009

RSHYR: Wild Oats XI arrives in Alfa Romeo’s wake

Wild Oats XI passing Tasman Island on their way to claim second over the line, 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart. Image copyright ROLEX/Kurt Arrigo.

by Bruce Montgomery

Mark Richards, the skipper of Wild Oats Xl, the four-time line honours winner and record holder of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, vowed to return next year after finishing second to arch rival and near sistership, the New Zealand supermaxi Alfa Romeo, just after midnight this morning.

Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI from NSW crossed the Castray Esplanade finish line at 12.05 am, two hours behind Alfa Romeo and 16 hours outside her own 2005 race record.

It reversed the position when they last met in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, 2005, when Wild Oats XI set the race record of one day 18 hours and 40 seconds, beating Alfa Romeo across the line by 49 minutes.

Richards was gracious in defeat this morning, declaring Neville Crichton had sailed a faultless race.

“It was a tactical race and we never got a look in really,” Richards said, adding that he believed Alfa Romeo had a slight upwind edge exiting Sydney Harbour and on the first evening of the race, which made a difference.

“They had a little edge on us on the first night and the next morning we were in a big parking lot together. They got out first and put 30 miles on us before we knew what had happened. That’s the way it is and congratulations to those guys,” he said.

“We’ve had four wins and a second. You can’t really be unhappy with that. We gave it our best shot and that’s all we could do.

“You have to be a good winner and a good loser; that’s all part of sport. That’s yachting and we’ll be back next year to have another crack at it.”

That promise was echoed by Bob Oatley, who said he was not disappointed by the boat’s performance, even though he had wanted to win the race five times.

Wild Oats XI’s navigator, Adrienne Cahalan, commented: “If I could change anything it would be the way we approached Gabo Island,” adding: “There’s nothing like coming first, but we worked hard and we don’t think we made many mistakes.”

Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard and Sean Langman’s Investec LOYAL are the next two yachts due to finish the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia organised race. The two super maxis currently have ETA’s of just after 4.30am and shortly after 5.00am respectively.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

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