Wild Oats XI breaks its own record to win Sydney-Hobart yacht race for sixth time
Finishes in time of one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds to claim victory
Second-placed Ragamuffin Loyal avoids time penalty after ruling over start incident
Living Doll becomes the first yacht in 76-strong fleet to withdraw, suffering broken rudder
Wild Oats XI claimed a sixth victory in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Thursday after producing a record time to see off the opposition.
The super-maxi crossed the line with an official time of one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds to claim victory in the prestigious 628-nautical mile bluewater classic.
It broke its own previous record of one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds, which it set back in 2005.
It also won the race every year from 2005-08 and in 2010 but last year was narrowly beaten by Investec Loyal, which finished a distant second this time under the new name of Ragamuffin Loyal.
“Last year we were beaten by by three minutes, which was very disappointing. This year we beat them by much more,” skipper Mark Richards told the race’s official website after coming home with 45 nautical miles to spare.
The record had looked like slipping out of his grasp as conditions lightened going up the Derwent River, but Richards ordered a bigger mainsail to keep momentum going.
“We just kept chipping away. You expect it to be light in the Derwent and it did get lighter towards the end. This is a very testing event and the Derwent is very, very, testing. It’s always a tough race,” he said.
“We had some very hard and fast running conditions; we blew out a spinnaker and had some gear failure, so it wasn’t all smooth sailing.”
Most of the crew have been together since 2005, with Steve Jarvin celebrating his 25th race with a record 10th line honors victory.
Wild Oats became only the second boat in the event to break its own record.
“We’ll try to do it again next year,” owner Bob Oatley said.
“New wings on the keel helped enormously I’m sure, so did the new jib. The design, the crew, the sails and the modifications are what makes the boat fast.”
Ragamuffin Loyal, skippered by 85-year-old Syd Fischer, was confirmed in second ahead of Lahana after being cleared of making an early start on Wednesday. An international jury ruled Friday that race officials had failed to inform Fischer that he had jumped the gun.
Fischer was left to rue problems with damaged headsail equipment on the first night of the race.
“We had a bit of trouble,” he said after finishing his 44th Sydney-Hobart in one day, 23 hours and eight minutes and 44 seconds.
“We’re new to the boat, we’ve only had it two months. I think we did pretty well. The boys pushed the boat really hard, it’s just unfortunate that things broke or went wrong.”
The race, being held for the 68th time, is known as one of the toughest in the world. The 1998 edition ended with just 44 of the 115 entries completing the journey, as five boats sank and six people died.
Living Doll was the first yacht of the 76-strong fleet to withdraw from this year’s event, suffering a broken rudder near the middle of Bass Strait, 90 nautical miles north east of Flinders Island.
“The Race Committee has been advised that the crew are all in good shape and that they are managing by themselves. They have not asked any other yacht to stand by,” the Sydney-Hobart website reported Thursday.
It was followed by Primitive Cool (damaged mainsail) and Corporate Initiatives, which developed steering issues.