Mark Richards has steered the Oatley family’s Wild Oats XI to her ninth Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours victory after a protracted battle with Jim Cooney’s LDV Comanche on Tasmania’s River Derwent this evening, reclaiming the race record Anthony Bell’s Perpetual LOYAL took from her last year.
Wild Oats XI smashed last year’s record of one day 13hrs 31mins 20secs by after crossing the Castray Esplanade finish line at 21:48:50 this evening, in the new time of one day 8hrs 48mins 50secs, taking 4hrs 42mins 30secs of Perpetual LOYAL’s time.
This is a record ninth line honours for Wild Oats and a third record – nobody in the history of the race has achieved this honour before.
But will she hold on to line honours? LDV Comanche is flying the protest flag she raised after an incident after the start and then advised in the first sked she would be protesting Wild Oats XI. LDV Comanche must file her protest within six hours of finishing.
But in the meantime, Richards and his 20 crew members were celebrating their victory to huge cheers at the dock in Hobart tonight, spraying Champagne Mumm over each other as the huge crowd waited for LDV Comanche to also finish.
The J.H. Illingworth Trophy looked set to be in the hands of Jim Cooney, who recently purchased the 2015 boat dubbed the ‘aircraft carrier’ due to her girth. Boat and crew revelled in the strong north-easterly wind, but in the end, Wild Oats XI held her ground and showed her superiority in the extremely light breeze both boats found on rounding Tasman Island that at times stopped both yachts in their tracks.