Elation for Bob Oatley’s Reichel Pugh designed superyacht Wild Oats XI which delivered yet again, in a riveting race with Anthony Bell’s luxury yacht Perpetual Loyal from the moment the start gun fired. Wild Oats has now equaled the remarkable record of 7 line honours victories Sydney Hobart history. Congratulations to Mark Richards and the Wild Oats crew who were under intense pressure to overhaul extremely well sailed Perpetual Loyal on the second day of the race. “We just got faster and faster compared to the other boats – it was a really cool experience.” Said Ricko, Quick to praise the crew, he added, “It’s hard to explain how good the chemistry is on that boat…there is a lot of passion.”
McConaghy Boats can now lay claim to 15 overall victories in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, delivering 15 Rolex Time Pieces to their owners since Rolex have supported the event.
Disappointment however for Tony Kirby and his crew on the newly launched Ker 46 Patrice, who after negotiating the light airs and windless holes, experienced an exciting down wind ride in the building northerly breeze, only to face the ferocious southerly change that would be their undoing. After slamming into steep choppy waves for 4 hours, one particularly bad crash caused a ring frame to crack in the bow of Patrice. Tony elected to retire from the race rather than risk further damage to the new yacht as the wild crossing of Storm Bay lay just around the corner. The southerly change bought winds of 50kts with gusts of 60kts and the steep cold waves rolling in from the south combined with the northerly swell that had built over the last day or so to create steep punishing waves out at sea where Patrice was positioned well away from the shelter of Tasmania. Disappointment would be an understatement for Tony, who was leading the race on corrected time, even though the 4 hours of head winds had slowed the boats progress compared to the larger and faster boats positioned closer to Hobart when the front hit. Regardless, Tony was still elated with the boat and its performance in a range of conditions but particularly enjoyed the hard running, posting an awesome video of the better moments of his race. Remaining up beat Tony has already committed to the 70th Rolex Sydney Hobart and having a go at claiming the elusive Rolex in his new Patrice
Patrice is now in Hobart, and after reviewing the structural design with Ker Design the McConaghy team have fabricated a new strengthened section of ring frame which will be fitted the yacht in time for Tony to continue with his plans to compete in the Geelong Festival of Sails later this month.
Bill Wild’s Reichel Pugh 55 Wedgetail also suffered disappointment at about the same time as Patrice when their carbon fiber mast came crashing down off Tasman Island. Wedgetail was also well positioned for a great result under IRC. Bill and his crew had been nipping at the heels of the highly fancied 60 footers who were lucky to get the right weather window to round Tasman Island with minimal upwind work.
Elation though for Tam Faragher and his Ker 50 cruiser racer Kerumba, who exceeded his and his crews expectations with a 6th overall on IRC and 4th overall ORCi, “a great result for a bunch of amateurs on a cruiser racer” according to Tam. “There has been a lot of preparation over the last 18 months to get to the stage that we can now say with confidence Kerumba is a truly magnificent and special boat. We had our usual crew who have worked hard to increase skills to match the boat which paid off”. “The SW front hit us at 40 knots half way down the Tassi coast but we had some shelter and continued under number 4 headsail and 2 reefed main. Rounding Tasman Island we hit a further storm which was typically 40-50 knots and we saw several 70 knot gusts. Although wanting to reduce sail to storm jib, the boat was balanced and working to windward at 8 knots when wave action allowed. It was deemed too risky to put anyone on the foredeck unless we had too, if the number 4 blew, we would address it then.”
The Ker 40 Midnight Rambler also features in the same Rolex video looking solid in the wild conditions with storm jib up. Owners Ed Psaltis, Bob Thomas and Michael Bencsik drove the boat hard in the building northerly across Bass strait, and unfortunately blew out all their spinnakers which set them back significantly compared to their competition. Ed and his crew have a reputation for excelling in the tough Hobart’s, having won the gale swept ‘98 Hobart race in their previous 35ft Midnight Rambler, but this year did not favour the smaller boats who were slowed by the strong southerly whilst the bigger boast were tucked away safely in Hobart.
Roger Hickman sailing in his 37th Hobart race, and his Farr 43 Wild Rose did not disappoint however. The well sailed 28 year old original Wild Oats kept the overall IRC results in limbo until the fifth day of the race, threatening to upset Victoire, but the timing of the southerly gale made sure that this was not a race for the 40 footers. Wild Rose saw 50 knots off Flinders Island. Hickman recalled, “The wind was howling, it was really rough, very rough.”
Wild Rose’s speedo pegged 18.5 knots sailing downwind. Hickman said, “I’ve never seen that from an old boat. You’re just on a knife-edge. But they do say if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space! And we said we were not leaving anything on the table. Wild Rose won Division 4 – and managed to beat all the boats in Division 3 as well.
Congratulations to all McConaghy Boats skippers and crew for battling through another tough Hobart race.