Investec Loyal Tames Wild Oats

Following a three-hour hearing at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, the 100-foot maxi Investec Loyal is officially the line-honors winner of the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

Investec Loyal, which included American navigator Stan Honey in its crew, beat five-time line-honors winner Wild Oats XI by just over 3 minutes in one of the closest finishes in the 628-mile offshore classic. Total time at sea for the boat was 2 days, 6 hours.

The two boats remained locked in a tight battle from the very start in Sydney Harbor on December 26, remaining within 10 miles or less of each other as they made their way down the Australian coast. Investec Loyal finally took the lead by sailing around a dead zone Wild Oats XI sailed into off the coast of Tasmania.

They Sydney Hobart race committee protested Investec Loyal after it was learned that tactician Michael Coxon had radioed a television helicopter asking about the condition of Wild Oats’s sails. Coxon, however, is the managing director of North Sails Australia and says he made the call because he was concerned how Wild Oats’s new 3Di mainsail had fared after a rough first night at sea.

“There are rules in every sport, and while it wasn’t ideal to go through this, I think that ultimately…those questions that were asked have been properly answered,” said Investec Loyal skipper Anthony Bell. “We have come second to Wild Oats quite a lot. We came second last year to them, and we kept coming second to them at Hamilton Island. It is an against-the-odds victory for us…. I am still waiting for one of my crewmembers to wake me up and say you’re on watch!

At press time, the winner of the Tattersail Cup, for the best handicap performance in the 88-boat fleet, was still up for grabs. For details on the race, click here.

Photo courtesy of Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

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