Racing: Maximum Effort in Tasmania

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The maxi Wild Oats XI stretches out her lead in the final stages of the race

The maxi Wild Oats XI stretches out her lead in the final stages of the race

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is best known for the wild weather that often marks the Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia. However, Tasmania’s Derwent River, which serves as the homestretch into the finish in Hobart, can be no less daunting with its heart-breaking calms. In recent years, the Derwent has also become the site of some nail-biting finishes between those in search of line-honors, as the Maxi Class has become both more numerous and increasingly competitve.

This time around, no less than four of the 100ft thoroughbreds found themselves duking it out following the roughly 600-mile run down from Sydney, including longtime race veteran Wild Oats XI, Black Jack, Comanche and InfoTrack.

At one point a mere four miles separated all four boats as they made round Tasman Light. After that, though, Wild Oats XI found her stride, eventually pulling away to a lead of nearly five miles leaving Black Jack and Comanche to battle it out for second and third. In the end it was Wild Oats XI taking first with an elapsed time of one day, 19 hours and 7 minutes, Black Jack beating Comanche by just over a minute, and InfoTrack finishing about 20 minutes later.

The win marks the ninth time Wild Oats XI has taken line honors in the race. It also brought to an end a three-year bad-luck streak, during which the boat had to retire from the race two years in a row due to mechanical problems and was protested out of first place in the third.

The Reichel Pugh 66 Alive closes in on the overall win in the 2018 Rolex Sydney Horbart

The Reichel Pugh 66 Alive closes in on the overall win in the 2018 Rolex Sydney Horbart

Meanwhile, winning the Tattersall Cup for best finish on corrected time was the Reichel Pugh 66 Alive, owned by Tasmanian sailor Philip Turner, making only the third time in 74 races that a Tasmanian boat has come out on top. In all, 85 boats took part in the 2018 running of the 628-nautical-mile Boxing Day classic. For complete results, visit rolexsydneyhobart.com.

Photos courtesy of Rolex/Studio Borlenghi

March 2019

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